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5 Traits of Successful Sales Engineering Leaders

January 15th, 2021

A Sales Engineering (SE) leader plays a pivotal role in the success of a presales team. Sales Engineers rely on their leaders to perform crucial sales engineering duties. They can manage the team and help SEs close successful deals. Product and technical knowledge help SE leaders to be more effective in communicating with their team. They enable and help SEs close successful presales engagements.

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Here are the five traits of successful SE leaders:

1. Influencer

Most SE leaders underestimate the impact they can have on the success of a sales deal. When the SEs run into problems, one of the best ways to help them is to find the right people to assist.  This is where having a strong network and relationships with product, support and engineering comes handy. A beneficial network across the organization or partner ecosystem can help bring value and impact to the business.

When sales engineers are stuck in their Proof Of Concept (POC) engagements with bugs, feature requests or issues, your help clearing the path will go a long way into getting the deals done. These issues usually also are contributing factors in dragging the POCs longer or losing the POC.

As a sales engineering leader, you have better visibility across the SE teams about what is impacting the sales deals. You are in a better position to have that conversation with your peers in product, support and engineering teams.

2. Mentor

Successful SE leaders work on building strength and enabling Sales Engineers. Carving out time to mentor and help develop skills is critical to building a strong sales engineering team. It also helps with retention and future-proofing the team. Stepping in with a mentoring plan tailored to individual sales engineer’s need motivates the team to work smarter and close more deals.

3. Coach

As a successful SE leader, getting to know each Sales Engineer is the key to manage the team. SE leaders not only guide the team but also coach and motivate Sales Engineers to make the right decisions. Reward the team with incentives to uphold their positive attitude. Also, foster competition by allowing team members to compete for perks based on a given KPI.

4. Guide

Sales Engineers are usually busy working on their demos and POCs. They usually work independently and in a siloed environment. That’s why SE leaders should proactively push the SEs to make time for acquiring new skills. In practice, it is as simple as helping them to enroll in new skills, offer valuable feedback, and recommending training sessions, etc. Since SE leaders are connected to all SEs and they know what SEs are working on, they can schedule some group time to exchange ideas, knowledge, and lesson learnt exercises.

5. Leader

Closing deals is important but should not be the only criteria for recognizing Sales Engineers. Create metrics that support all-round growth. As an SE leader, apply some or all of these methods to make SEs feel valued in the team:

  • Involve them in decision making especially around setting sales engineering processes
  • Offer growth opportunities within the team
  • Offer rewards beyond compensation
  • Provide public recognition when some of these non-revenue related targets are completed (for example, a sales engineer helped build a new demo platform that is useful for shared customer demos. It may not have a direct impact on closing the deal, but it enables other team members to perform efficiently)
  • Provide constructive feedback

Every SE leader has a unique personality and management style. You may already be doing some of these things directly or indirectly. If you haven’t started on some of these habits yet, adopting these habits will yield productive results and help shape a better sales engineering team.

Image Credit: Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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