While not every sales engineer is great at every one of these skills, every amazing SE I've ever met is great at least at one of them, and good at the rest.
#5 - they ask amazing questions
Sales engineers can ask the questions that a sales executive just can't, and have a chance of getting the answers needed to progress an opportunity forward.
Sometimes these questions help connect the product to a customer's problem. Sometimes they help customers understand how a problem is affecting their business. And sometimes, they help customers discover they have a problem.
Questions are the best way to make a customer thing an idea is their own, so excellent sales engineers work with account executives to ensure the right questions are getting asked by the right person at the right time.
#4 - they tell impactful stories
When you have to tell someone something, it's much more likely to land if you tell it caged in the framework of a story.
Amazing sales engineers use their experiences to tell stories that bridge the gap in the customer's mind between where they are and where they need to be.
These stories give our customers the blueprint for resolving their problems using your product. They also show that the sales engineer has walked a mile in their shoes and knows how to solve their problems.
Sometimes these stories are off the cuff, but many times they take the form of presentations, technical brownbags, demos, and other engagements. Find the ones that best resinate with the users of your product and focus there.
#3 - they build unassailable trust with their prospects
While the absolute most important thing for a sales executive to do is be liked, the most important thing for a sales engineer to do is to be trusted. A rep can polish over some slight personality conflicts for a sales team if the engineer appears credible.
Great sales engineers know this, and even though there's sometimes pressure to BS your way through a topic, they never do. It's always better to circle back around than to lose the trust of your customers.
#2 - they prove their product solves their customers' biggest problems
It's always better if a prospect knows their problem is going to be solved before they buy, and sales engineers craft technical proof points that demonstrate that their product delivers on its promise.
Sometimes these are demos, sometimes these are technical proofs (PoC/PoV/etc), and sometimes they're even scoped down pilots - using the prospect's own systems to demonstrate that the product not only works, but will work for them.
When a customer knows your product solves their problem, it's a lot easier to close a deal.
#1 - they make sure their customers get value from what they buy
The best sales engineers don't stop their engagement when the deal is done. Instead, they work with the customer to make sure the promised they made come to fruition.
Sometimes, this means helping the customer get to production themselves. Sometimes, it's ensuring the right resources from other teams are engaged with the customer to ensure their success. And if there it a handoff, the SE makes it as seamless as possible.
Even if someone else is going to do the implementation, the SE stays plugged in to make sure the customer gets what they were promised and is happy, and is there to help expand the relationship with that customer in the future.
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