Sales Engineer Process and Methodology

I think, or at least I hope, that if you are part of any company that has made it beyond the startup phase you will have some type of sales methodology in place. I have come across my fair share of reps and SEs that see little value in such a process-some will go so far as to say it hinders their ability to sell. I’ll be the first to agree that implementing sales methodology does add some overhead to your sales team, especially at first. It would be a bad idea though to judge anything just based on the negative without looking at the positive. For those who actively resist, I pretty much guarantee will never have been accountable for anyone’s forecast except his/her own.The bottom line is that a forecast is a promise, especially from the viewpoint of the CEO, CFO, and shareholders. The company doesn’t really start operating without the sales forecast for the year. If the company’s forecast is based on anything other than science and repeatable process, you’re gambling pure and simple. Variability is your worst enemy. Minimizing it fosters stability-and thus trust-in your company.

I believe this trust is worth the extra effort.

For SEs that are reading this, it probably isn’t hard to step back and agree that reps should be doing thing. But what about SEs? Whoa, hold on a sec. How does this impact me as the SE? I participate in the account review sessions and I work with my rep to even develop the requisite account plans. Aren’t I doing my part?

As an SE you manage a technical sales cycle within the sales cycle. The technical portion of the sales cycle is mostly yours alone to manage and move forward. So here are some questions to ask yourself. Do all SEs perform the same basic demo (allowing for some tailoring) to the customer? What about presentations and product evaluations? Is everyone emphasizing the same 3-5 competitive differentiated benefits of your product to the customer and are these consistent between all touch points with the customer?

When you can answer yes to these questions you have the basic building blocks of a repeatable process with your customers. When it’s repeatable (good or bad) at least you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the outcome will be. This is how an SE organization builds trust within the sales organization.

So as a leader in your SE organization, I say it is your responsibility to drive towards the same level of process and consistency as our peers. If we want to think of ourselves as pivotal to the sales team (of which I whole heartedly believe) then we should not except or expect different treatment in the level of professionalism we bring to the table.

It’s just too damn important to ignore.