Involved in technical sales, or sales to manufacturing and engineering firms? You have internal colleagues called Sales Engineers, called on to clinch things with the customer.
How are you working with, using, or abusing, these valuable technical resources (aka, “techies”) that your company employs? Recognize any of these personas?
- I’d like to involve the sales engineer from the beginning of the sale, after I qualify the lead and determine there is a justification for bringing them into the solution. But I’ve found that SE’s make me appear, to the customer, to be a talking head or brochure on legs who doesn’t know how to use the left side of their brain. My company treats me like a hunter whose role simply is to rustle the bushes, identify the target, land the target and dump the carcass at their front door and then go out hunting again. The SE’s are such brainiacs. They make me feel stupid. So I use them as my ace up my sleeve. I don’t want to appear like a stupid sales dummy.
- I’ll bring in the sales engineer in, right before I’m about to clinch the sale. The SE is my “exclamation point” of value-add. They make me look good. I’ve brought in sales engineers early on in this process. We end up contradicting each other. The SE’s talk to the customer’s engineers because they aren’t comfortable talking to non-technical professionals. The SE’s end up telling folks “no, you can’t” after I’ve pre-negotiated “yes, we can” with my company. OK, so I didn’t let the SE in on this info because it’s not their problem Then again, they made it my problem due siloed lack of communication between sales and engineering.
- I have monthly quotas to fill and technical product sales to close. I book as many appointments as I can, even with prospects who seem to have too much time on their hands. I drag the SE’s to as many appointments as I can. I never consider that I am giving away free technical information. I guess I’m tying up valuable company resources, chasing unqualified leads. It doesn’t matter. I have to justify my position to the company and it’s based on how many appointments I make each month and how many of their technical solutions I pitch.
- My company mandates that I always bring a sales engineer into each meeting involving a technical solution. My company makes technical solutions out to be cosmic mysteries. Seriously, I’m not that stupid. I can use the left side of my brain. Problem is, I’m a newbie or middle-of-the-road performer. All of the SE’s get tied up either 1) working with the rock star sales folks or 2) getting sent out on dead-end sales calls with reps who are filling their monthly sales quotas. With no SE’s available when my customer’s decision making team is available, I was forced to suck it up and try to close my last sale myself. Which I did. Hey, it’s not such a cosmic mystery. Why does my company try to make technical stuff out to be so hard for us sales people to understand?
- I know enough not to call in the SE until I have a firm reason to believe that their presence is need to close the sale. However, I collaborate, on a regular basis, with several SE’s in my organization with whom I “click.” So I am talking to them from the first sales call, kicking the tires, and trading approaches and knowledge. I grow as a sales rep, and they grow as a technical professional, regardless of whether I am parading them in front of the customer or not. If they are available to close the sale, great. Our partnership is value-add for the customer. If the SE is not available, we’ve prepped each other so our tag-team is “there” even though I may be the only person at the final meeting. The point is, we are a team. And we are involved, as a team, from the first call to the prospect, whom the SE has helped me identify as a viable lead. My company compensates these SE’s for every sale I close. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.