So Little Time, So Much Ado

The number one request we get for improving the pre-sales role is helping SEs manage their time better. We hear inumerable complaints involving the constant chaos and time crunch SEs find themselves in.

It’s no wonder. For many professional fields, you go to school for formal training. Not so for a Sales Engineer. SEs figure out how to be an SE through on the job trial and error. We then become Senior SEs who are creatures of bad habits without realizing it. With lack of formal training, the SE role is fraught with inefficiency and ineffectiveness.* And so, time becomes our #1 enemy.

Here are some helpful hints for SEs to better manage time:

  • Envision the Goal, and Have a Plan: These are tightly intertwined. “In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” “If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s a lot harder to get there.” In fact, in our program, we teach an engineering technique for defining a least-cost path to achieve a technical decision, and key to that technique is first envisioning the end goal, and then planning from there.  Always ask yourself, “How can I win faster?”
  • Just Say No: As an SE, you get demands for time from sales reps, customers, your manager, tech support, engineering, product management, family — all over the place. You cannot possibly keep everybody happy all the time.  Prioritize activities based on revenue potential, customer satisfaction, funnel cleanliness, reclamation of time, etc. When a new demand for your time arises, prioritize it accordingly, and if you have to say “No”, explain your case that you have other higher priorities.  Always ask yourself, “Is this a good use of my time?”
  • Know What You Must Know: Some inefficiency is the result of not having all the information necessary to make an informed decision. To save time, filter which deals to work on. What information do you need to prioritize the deals that deserve your time?  As a team, develop a qualification checklist that everybody will use for every deal. The consistency and completeness will go a long way in improving effectiveness and team alignment on prioritizing time and deals.  Always ask yourself, “Do I know what I must know?”

Control what you can control.
Get SE specific training through a program like’s.
This will go a long way toward reducing the continual chaos and lack of time.

* We are aware of two relatively new college programs in the U.S. that now have a Sales Engineering minor — the University of Florida, and the University of Iowa.

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