What is a Sales Engineer and What they do

Published on: February 17th, 2021

Sales Engineering is one of the few jobs involving sales and engineering practices to reach potential customers. It exists in the enterprise B2B (business-to-business) sales pipeline and involves a multi-step sales process to make the deal.

A successful sales engineer

What is a Sales Engineer?

Sales Engineers (SE) are essentially the people focused on selling complex technology products and services to businesses. A sales engineer is both a salesperson and an engineer who sells technical products with engineering knowledge. Companies use different titles for sales engineers, such as solutions engineers, systems engineers, presales engineers, etc.

The duties of a sales engineer are similar to those of other salespersons, except they use their technical skills to explain the benefits of their products or services to potential customers. In addition to sales presentations, SEs work on tasks such as market research, customer discovery, etc.

A day as a Sales Engineer

Depending on the nature of sales at each company, sales engineers typically do the following,

  • Market research to understand customer needs
  • Scheduling meetings with new potential clients and engage with current ones
  • Preparing and presenting technical demonstrations
  • Collaborate with sales teams and provide sales support
  • Confer with customers to assess equipment needs
  • Provide support to customers with installation of equipment
  • Create sales contracts, proof of concepts for products or services

Qualities of Sales Engineers

Sales engineers need strong technical skills and soft skills to connect with people and present their products. Apart from these skills, here are some of the key qualities to become a successful sales engineer.

  • Interpersonal or people skills
  • Adaptive personality
  • Problem-solving & decision-making skills
  • Product expertise
  • Ability to demonstrate succinctly
  • Market and sales knowledge
  • General programming skills
  • Self-motivated & team player
  • Be a leader
  • Make and follow strategies

Role and Responsibility of Sales Engineers in Enterprise Sales

1) Enterprise Sales Process

The 3C concept
3C Concept – Connect, Convince, and Close

An enterprise sales cycle is B2B and generally associated with multiple decision-makers, high contract value, and a lengthy negotiation period. To learn more about the enterprise sales methodology, refer to Section 2 of our Udemy course. It deals with the following topics,

  1. Introduction to Enterprise Sales
  2. 3C Methodology – Connect
  3. 3C Methodology – Convince
  4. 3C Methodology – Close

2) Responsibilities of Sales Engineers

Roles and responsibility of sales engineer
Responsibilities of Sales Engineers

Based on the 3C concept, the sales engineers join the enterprise sales cycle at a later part of connect stage and travel along till convince. And they are responsible for the following activities,

  1. Establish the first meeting with the prospect
  2. Setting up a customer discovery session
  3. Evaluate the product-customer fit ratio
  4. Prepare and present product demo’s
  5. Evaluate the next steps
  6. Propose a proof of concept deal

3) Roles of Sales Engineers

Three hats of sales engineers
Roles of Sales Engineers

The role of a sales engineer is diverse and influenced by many sales factors. To perform these activities, sales engineers need to wear multiple hats to fulfill their duties. Those 3 hats are the Salesman, Subject Matter Expert, and Project Manager.

Salesman – Support your account executives, participate in technical discovery process, perform product demos, and build trustworthy relationships.

Subject Matter Expert – Obtain deep product knowledge, understand the pain points, propose the solution and pave the way for POC approval, implement the POCs and report the results to the stakeholders.

Project Manager – Negotiate the POC scope and deadline, spearhead the POC implementation, employ risk mitigation strategies, manage and communicate with stakeholders.

To learn more insights about the role of sales engineer, refer to Section 3 of our Udemy course.

I hope this article provides you with an understanding of what a job of a sales engineer is, and what it takes to become one. With the right knowledge and strategy, the job of a sales engineer is easy to get because it does not require anyone to be a specialist in specific technology or the product.

So, do you feel interested and excited about becoming a professional sales engineer? Then this course is exclusively made for you.

Image Credit: Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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