How about Sales Engineer… or Presales Engineer, SE… or System Engineer?
I continue to tell my kids, “Go to school and become a sales engineer!” There just isn’t enough of these people to go around and, as technologies advance and explode – they’ll be needed for many years to come.
Almost every client that we partner with has an on-going need for a Sales Engineer. Why is it so difficult to engage these folks and get them to consider a move?
When you begin to put yourself in their shoes, it becomes clear. For most, they are constantly being contacted (hounded) by recruiters on a regular basis. The typical approach is a “Look what I have over here – you’re perfect, let’s talk.” That rarely works and only has them hitting the delete button on the message quicker than they did a year ago.
Another factor that can’t be overlooked is the sales team. The reps, the engineers they partner with, and the dynamics behind the relationship. In many cases, a strong working bond has been established which didn’t happen overnight. When you have the right mix between rep and SE, they work together like a well-oiled machine and are typically enjoying the day-to-day demands of their roles because they can count on each other. They know who will say what (and when) in the presence of a potential client, and their uncanny ability to read each other consistently helps move deals forward. The sales rep becomes protective of the SE’s time and won’t bring him to the table until he’s truly needed. They close deals, commissions are enjoyed, and numbers are realized because of the chemistry and relationship. Why would a sales engineer ever think about a change when he’s already happy and content? Hence, the on-going challenge of the majority of technology companies in our space.
What makes an SE so incredibly valuable?
The list is long and somewhat obvious but the key reason is this; when you find an exceptional one, they become one of the biggest reasons your prospect becomes a client. Your product may be the best in the market, solve the world’s largest problem and be competitively priced, but if your sales team is (only) fair – the chances of closing that deal are diminished significantly. The best leaders in the technology/enterprise software space realize this fact. They know that finding the right mix, the correct partnership between sales rep and sales engineer is everything. When your prospect decides to become your client, your sales engineer has done an incredible job getting into the weeds on a technical level, has nurtured a POC and has left nothing left to chance. Trust has been established and more often than not, the new client believes “he” – your SE, is part of the deal.
With the high demand for these individuals and the on-going shortage of candidates, how will companies keep their momentum going? Continue to cultivate relationships with the best people in your space which is most likely what you’re already doing. And find a favorite recruiter that will be relentless in the hunt, sell your story better than anyone else, remained focused on the elusive athletes, and deliver only the bulls-eyes that will catapult your business forward.