What is Sales Engineering?

by Neeraj Sujan

At the beginning of this year, I was doing some research on taking my data science career to the next level. As I was doing my research on possible opportunities, I sat down and made a mind-map of things I truly enjoy doing. I discovered a thing or two by doing this trivial exercise. In this post, I would like to share my experience with you.

Every B2B software company needs a product team and a sales team. The person sitting in between these two teams is the pre-sales engineer. A presales engineer not only needs to be technically sound but also have some business acumen. If you enjoy technology and love to talk to clients, maybe presales engineering is a career path for you.

Key Personality Traits to become a successful sales engineer

  1. Communication Skills: In order to be a successful sales engineer, one needs to have very good communication skills. Most of the time, your task will be to do discovery calls and demo presentations. To do a successful demo, you need to be an effective communicator and include storytelling to connect with your audience.
  2. Life-long learning: You need to be able to stay abreast with the latest changes in the technology. Some tools you could use to stay up to date with the latest technology is getting an O’Reilly subscription and listening to podcasts related to your industry.
  3. Writing skills: As a sales engineer, you should be able to write persuasive e-mails and at times white papers. You can build good writing skills by learning about human psychology and copywriting. You need to be able to differentiate features of your company’s product from the benefits it provides to your customer.
  4. Teamwork: In your role as a sales engineer, you will have to work closely with your account manager. Treating your account manager as a partner and collaborating with him or her will help you make your work smooth and easy.
  5. Empathy and listening skills: You will have to do discovery calls to understand your customer’s pain points. You are the trusted advisor who is helping a client cross a bridge. In order for your client to trust you, you need to have good listening skills and show empathy for your client’s problems.

As you see, sales engineering is not only developing your tech skills but also working on your soft-skills. Skills like public-speaking, empathy, writing will differentiate you from the average sales engineer.

How can you develop these skills?

I am an introvert and I have always struggled to get on stage and deliver a speech. In order to get rid of my fear of public-speaking, I joined the local toastmasters club. If you have a local toastmasters club in your neighborhood, I encourage you to join one.

Transitioning from a developer role to a sales engineering roles requires time and patience. Think of this transition as a marathon. You have to continuously work on upgrading your skills. There is stopping since everyday will be a new challenge. Dealing with client, and helping them transform their industry is a skill only a few possess.

I still haven’t made this transition but I am learning everyday and with each discovery I make, I will share it with you.

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