Sales are the lifeblood of business. But finding ways to attract new customers is becoming increasingly difficult. The strategies that we’ve relied on for decades don’t always work in hyper-technological industries.
Businesses operating in highly technical fields have a challenging dichotomy to deal with regarding sales. They sell sophisticated technologies to relatively general audiences. Translating the technical aspects of your product or service to your potential customers is a task that many companies struggle with.
You have to consider things like:
- Will our customers understand the intended goal of our software?
- Can we teach them how to properly use it?
- Is our software compatible with the traditional sales process?
- What tools can we use to showcase important features and benefits?
That’s where pre-sales engineering comes in.
Sales engineers are the salespeople who work in industrial markets selling specialized technology to other businesses and individual buyers (when relevant).
What Is Sales Engineering?
The responsibilities of a sales engineer combine the ability to sell effectively with the knowledge required to understand highly-specialized products. Sales engineers have a wide variety of roles, including:
- Doing market research to understand customers’ needs.
- Interacting with manufacturers to help fine-tune products to the customers’ needs.
- Scheduling meetings to meet with new potential clients and engage with current ones.
- Creating sales presentations and negotiating sales terms.
- Providing follow-ups and technical support after the sale.
- Occasionally travel internationally to meet with foreign clients.
You can think of a sales engineer as a specialized salesperson that understands and can explain the complexities of technical software, products, and services.
What Do Sales Engineers Need to Know?
Sales engineers often benefit from high salaries due to the meticulous nature of sales engineer training. Employers demand a broad and deep set of skills in every sales engineer, including:
- Presentation skills. Both verbal and written skills are required. Being able to communicate with clients and business partners while appearing trustworthy is an essential skill. You want your audience to want to hear from you again.
- Technical knowledge. Selling to industrial clients requires a greater focus on logical reasoning and technical information than general consumers, who respond more to impulse and style.
- Product expertise. Sales engineers need to know more about the products they sell than an average convenience store clerk. Ensure your engineers know about the products they sell, such as specifications and usage.
- Market awareness. It’s helpful to know current industry trends when speaking with clients. Be aware of other types of solutions on the market, how they work, their strengths and weaknesses, and how your business’s solution compares.
What Is Cyber Sales Engineering?
The cybersecurity market is one field that many sales engineers are turning to. These types of salespeople must understand complex cybersecurity practices and be able to give persuasive product and service demos.
Cybersecurity products are complex in nature. Customers and partners must understand the intricacies of any software they are implementing, and that’s where sales engineers come into play.
Cyber sales engineers ensure the company’s security methods make sense to the customer. Broad security skills such as routing and switching and knowledge of cybersecurity laws are necessary to explain these services in-depth.
How Is Sales Engineering Useful?
Sales engineering training is what separates sales engineers who work with individual clients from product managers who focus on creating new products and supporting the sales channels.
You can think of sales engineering as a bridge between companies and clients in highly-technical industries. Industrial businesses must dedicate the task of selling industrial products and services to specialized staff.
A general salesperson may be able to promote a product’s benefits, but they often don’t understand it on a technical level. A sales engineer understands how a product works, how individual parts of it interact with each other, and they can provide both a basic and advanced explanation when required.
This additional expertise is valuable as it can make the difference when it comes to generating new sales and keeping existing customers happy.
How Can You Get the Most Out of Sales Engineering?
When it comes to interviewing sales engineers, ask for a sample demo on any topic. This test shows that they can explain products clearly and can answer questions a client might ask.
Once they’re on board, your focus should be incorporating them into the overall sales cycle for your company. This includes things like:
- Integrating sales tools such as presentations and other selling aids into the workflow. This will make them easily accessible throughout the sales process.
- Connecting them with other engineers and salespeople to keep everyone on the same page. This way, sales engineers gain experience with the product and its features.
- Ensuring that they have the client’s end goals in mind. Avoid overselling or making up answers to questions. Doing so hurts integrity.
What Are the Best Ways to Train Your Sales Engineers?
Because sales engineering requires both textbook knowledge and real-world experience, the best approach to technical sales training is through sales demo environments and virtual POCs.
Virtual training labs put sales engineers in simulated experiences with clients. These online classes are convenient and inexpensive, and they teach all the sales engineer tips your staff need to push sales and raise revenues.