Sales engineers. Application engineers. Consultants. There are multiple names out there describing people that engage in what I would call technical presale.
Sales Engineers: Bullish On Revenues, Still Good Stewards<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6fa8d195e980199f312efb643a3a5597"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PRSeTO6nwyY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Let me shock a few of you. Field application engineers and consultants, I consider you salespeople.</p><p>Sure, you aren't typically closing deals. But there is much more to sales than the act of closing. You engage clients, listen to their problems, their objectives, their aspirations. From there, you come up with recommendations and solutions, demo these, often run proof of concepts. You may also be partially or fully involved in the delivery of these once a sale is closed.</p><p>In other words, in many cases, if there is no you, there are no sales. You are the starting pitcher who sets the table for a closing pitcher to come in and conclude the transaction. </p><p>In fact, in many cases, you are also being called to generate leads as well. A number of you publish white papers or engage with visitors in trade show booths. Isn't that part of prospecting for new business?</p><p>One key metric management will use to judge your group's performance is revenue, just like more traditional sales. In fact, in many cases, individual compensation will be partially linked to it.</p><p>He or she will increase revenue as a matter of personal and organizational pride and celebrate wins just like a regular salesperson would. </p><p>Because of this, they will constantly evaluate how to improve things to propel sales further. The best performers will not be passive in that regard.</p><p>However, what sales and application engineers cannot do is consider that short-term revenue maximization is their <em>only</em> goal. They know full well that signing a rotten deal that ends up being an excessive drag on resources is no win at all.<span></span><span></span></p><p>Now, in my view, even traditional salespeople should not get a pass on signing bad deals by considering that their job is only to increase revenue. <a href="https://www.workitdaily.com/salespeople-and-engineers-work-together/leaders-heres-how-to-bind-salespeople-and-sales-engineers-together" target="_blank">As I discussed previously</a>, I take a dim view of that type of behavior, and I am far from being the only one. </p><p>Still, because sales and application engineers are, in fact, the technical experts of the sales process, they have a special responsibility to ensure deals make sense to the organization. They know that <a target="_self" href="https://www.workitdaily.com/new-to-sales-role/you-know-your-stuff-you-can-be-a-good-salesperson">trust is the crucial currency of any business relationship</a>. They will not endanger it by knowingly signing up for deals that will likely fail at the client site (for example, by selling <a target="_blank" href="https://youtu.be/PRSeTO6nwyY">vaporware</a>). </p><p>Likewise, they understand the concept of opportunity cost. If a deal swallows an excessive amount of resources related to its revenues, these resources are not available to other, more profitable sales opportunities. <br></p>
Sales Engineers: At The Edge Of Technology Without Falling Over A Cliff<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNjAyMTQ3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MTE0ODE4MX0.uwX9nZk-VjUasJgVcsY3RMUGRPkJnJTeOI4yKI42WRg/img.jpg?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C1824%2C0%2C1824&height=600" id="0adb9" width="1200" height="600" data-rm-shortcode-id="cf41418939e6ff3da4bd677954f70787" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
man Application engineers know how to push their technology to its limits, without falling into an abyssPhoto by Stephen Mayes on Unsplash<p>So, as discussed above, the best sales and application engineers care about revenues. And the tool they use to promote growth is their technical expertise.</p><p>The best ones go a step further. They know what their solutions can and <em>could do</em> if pushed to their edge.<span></span></p><p>Here's an example. Once in Japan, we had a client who expressed interest in our testing solutions. However, there was a problem: our software did not support their operating system.</p><p>We could have walked away. Instead, we came up with a way to compile, link, and run tests on that machine while running our software onto another server that ran an operating system we supported.</p><p>We were able to do so because we understood our technology well and had the imagination required to "think outside the box" on that one. The level of investment that the client was able to commit to also made it sensical from a business standpoint.</p><p>That is what excellent sales and application engineers do. They are not content to reproduce at multiple sites what previously done. They are also genuinely excited to deliver innovative solutions that break new ground, either through their technical prowess or by collaborating with R&D—and often a mix of both.</p><p>Of course, this needs to be carefully balanced. Just because something is cool doesn't mean it should be done. Just like profitability needs to inform revenue increases, pushing the technology to its limits must be done within reasons.</p><p>In other words, delivering complex and flaky customizations to a customer that will likely generate a ton of support calls should never be considered a step forward that is acceptable for a sales or application engineer. </p><p>In our case, the extra burden was reasonable given the contract's size and the fact that the underpinning technological approach was sound. We also did not oversell the client on what it could do, and we were upfront about its limitations before the deal was inked. That helped ensure a high level of satisfaction for all parties.</p>