Qualification criteria to assign a presales engineer- in a demo and in POC

Published on: February 25th, 2022

Presales and sales engineering professionals have reigned in managing a proof of concept (POCs) and product demos. The SEs can be grouped into two categories:

  • Specialist SEs– Specialist SEs possess deeper knowledge about a specific product from the organization. They are less in number when compared to generalist SEs with higher salaries.
  • Generalist SEs– Generalist SEs have knowledge on a wide range of products of the organization. They usually present the demos and pitch one or more products to the customers based on their needs and bring in the specialist SEs as and when needed.

The generalist SE sells everything in their portfolio. This is common in scenarios where companies offer multiple products because one SE cannot master all the products. So in the beginning generalist SEs are assigned based on requirements. Since they handle multiple products, generalist SEs are restricted to minimal domain knowledge; rather their focus usually be what problems the products sell, and who to contact when in-depth knowledge is needed (Specialist SEs). 

Specialist SEs are brought in for particular deals when it requires domain knowledge or a specialist’s touch. To become a specialist SE, they grow their knowledge in a particular area. As sales managers, you can qualify and assign the SEs based on a customer’s budget, their deciding authority, their timeline, and whether they have an actual need. 

Assigning SEs in product demos and POCs

It’s a prerequisite for SEs to know their products well enough to create product demos and POCs. This can be a very technical event depending on the complexity of the product. The POC should fulfill the customer’s meaningful requirements.  

Demonstrate the need and explore the product – The generalist SEs shall be able to cover multiple regions and add value across a large variety of different product offerings. In some cases, they can suggest a solution directly, and in other cases, they can bring in an SME. 

  • Practice objection handling – SEs often face the most challenging objections. Specialist SEs not only need to know what to say but also how to say it in a way that keeps the sale in play. This is a skill made by practice as it can be easy to get caught up in technical details that the customer doesn’t necessarily need to know. Using role-plays and scenario-based training, generalist SEs can make sure they have mastered handling objections and go one step further to become proficient in customer objections.
  • Understanding competitor products – To explain why your product is superior to a competitor’s, your Specialist SEs need to understand exactly what your competitor’s products do and don’t do; not just the features. Mention your key product differentiators when compared to your competitors. For more complex products, give them access to your competitor’s products and let them explore how it works.

Sales leaders must balance their SE’s time, optimizing their talents while ensuring they deliver effective POCs and product demos at scale. Whereas, SEs should identify the business problem of the customer and should hold the technical knowledge and facility needed to support the product. From these details, Sales leaders can better assess the SEs and assign the right pre-sales engineer to POCs and demos.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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