Not all pre-sales engineers are equal, and the most effective teams find ways to make room for all of them.
Before I jump in, maybe you resonate with more than one of these archetypes. Congratulations, that probably means you're excellent at your job. The more of these categories you can put on like an old sweater, the more valuable you are in the sales process and the more opportunities you'll have in your career.
#1 - The Sales Engineer
We've all met the quintessential sales engineer in our careers. These folks ooze spit-and-polish. You can drop them in a room full of Directors, VPs, and C-level executives and they can own the room and have everyone loving them by the end of a presentation. These are the engineers that the rep introduces and then doesn't say anything for 30 minutes to an hour because the SE embodies competence.
They understand the art of technical storytelling, and have a presence in a room that has everyone leaning into the conversation.
#2 - The Solutions Engineer
While the Sales Engineer owns the executive boardroom, the Solutions Engineer owns the end-user. If you had to use one phrase to describe them, it'd be "causally competent" - no one questions that they've been there before and know how to fix the problem.
You can drop them in a room full of practitioners and their managers and they'll be seen as "one of the team" - allowing them to become a trusted advisor to the people who you need to get using the product to actually drive an engagement to completion, and the customer to follow through so they become your fans for life.
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#3 - The Solutions Architect
For products where the end-user is building another tool using yours, this type of pre-sales engineer is the person that helps your prospects pull all the pieces together into a cohesive solution and unlocks opportunities for a company's footprint to grow alongside their customers.
A lot of times, this pre-sales engineer doesn't know their product as well as they know all the products that a customer might need to use to integrate your's into a solution. But some of the most impactful products in the world would never get sold without this engineer on your pre-sales team.
#4 - The Technology Consultant
Lighter-touch products require a different kind of pre-sales engineer, one that focuses on the big picture and can help customers navigate their own businesses to bring a new product into the fold. These pre-sales engineers understand how a customer actually gets work done, and helps those customers get across the finish line with as little friction as possible.
A lot of time, these engineers end up coaching their customers on how to avoid obstacles and navigate the systems they have in place that prevent progress. If there's one thing they understand, it's how businesses actually "do business" and "adopt technology" on the backend, and they use that knowledge to help their customers succeed.
What do you think? Did I miss one? If you liked this post, drop a comment below and please share this post with your network using the links in the footer. Thanks!