Do you sell technical products, services and platforms? Then you utilize your company’s sale engineer (SE) to demo your offering and work out technical details so you can clinch the sale. Take a look at 4 big mistakes you may be making with your sales engineer. Let me know if you recognize any of these scenarios. I’ve tasked you with changing your own selling habits in the future. Perhaps you need to retool and recalibrate.
1. The “SE’s make me look stupid” scenario. You involve the sales engineer at the first appointment, to demonstrate the “value” you bring to the customer. Your sales engineer has been trained to wow ‘em with their technical knowledge. Put your SE in a room with the customer: they spit out features and benefits like a robot on steroids. As a result, your customer perceives you as nothing more than a sales brochure on legs who doesn’t know how to use the left side of your brain. There’s no perceived value. The root cause of this scenario may not be with your sales engineer. Your company treats you like a hunter whose role is to rustle the bushes, identify the prey, land the prospect and dump the carcass at the front door and then go out hunting again.
Your task: Collaborate with your sales engineer on a regular basis, as you prospect. When you both call on customers, you are a team, not two solo acts.
2. The “I use my SE’s to give away free technical information” scenario. In another version of the first scenario, you book as many appointments as you can in order to fill quarterly quotas. A large percentage of your prospects are unqualified, but you parade your sales engineer in front of every customer, nonetheless. Your thinking: your SE gives you and your company more credibility. You never consider that you are giving away free technical information to companies who will never do business with you. Plus you are tying up valuable company resources chasing unqualified leads.
Your task: Go for quality vs. quantity. More qualified leads create more appropriate solutions for your company to provide and more contracts won. The result: a more favorable ecosystem for your tandem sales person / sales engineer team.
3. The “SE’s derail the sale” scenario. You bring in your SE to speak with the customer’s engineers, to the exclusion of everyone else in the room! When the folks seated around the table are made to feel irrelevant to the business conversation, your sale goes south. More times than not, your sales engineer – and your customer’s engineers – come to the “no, we can’t do that” conclusion, after you have pre-negotiated “yes, we can” with your company.
Your task: If you and your sales engineer come across as a team, you can counteract your customer’s own siloed corporate, “Us vs. Them”, techies vs. sales culture. Show them a productive alternative. Bring everyone together around the table.
4. The “I have to bring a sales engineer into each meeting whether I want to or not” scenario. Does your company make technical solutions out to be a cosmic mystery only a sales engineer can solve? Then guess what your prospecting list will look like: more of the same which leads to Scenarios 1,2 and 3. Ouch! You are not as stupid as you think. In fact, you are not at all stupid. You can use the left side of your sales brain. The problem is, if you are a newbie or middle-of-the-road performer (which means lots of us), you are not confident. In this scenario, all of your company’s 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 sales call quotas.
Your task: What if no sales engineers are available when your customer’s decision making team is available? You may be forced to suck it up and try to close the last sale yourself. You find, hey, this technical stuff is not such a cosmic mystery.
Think about what would happen if you incorporate the tasks from all four scenarios into your business development process. BOOM!
Let me know how it goes this month….
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Babette’s article first appeared in the 7/22/2013 Salesforce.com Blog. It is reproduced with the original author’s permission.