If you understand what Sales Engineers are, then you realize that they should be isolated from the general population in the same way that field reps are-and for the same reasons. The same traits that make a Sales Engineer effective are the same that alienate them from the common cubers, and I’ve recently proved this is true.
For one thing, successful Sales Engineers are able to convey confidence above all else. That confidence, in a sales situation, translates into credibility for the Sales/Account Rep. That confidence is completely 180 degrees against the flow of a successful cuber, in that they learn to survive by being passive in all matters, avoiding making decisions. A no-decision is a decision that can never be wrong, right?
But in the Sales Engineer’s world, there is no room for indecision-we may only get this one chance in front of a prospect! We need to be able to say what is needed, and say it confidently. There are many funny names/phrases for what we do in a tight spot, such as “being frugal with the truth”, but one of my primary axioms for Sales Engineering is:
Never leave the call with questions about your stuff.
They can have “homework”, but we can’t. So right away, an effective Sales Engineer starts to build barriers between cube-mates simply by the way we approach a problem/situation. We are not passive and meek, which makes the passive ones dislike us-if for no other reason than we highlight, by contrast, their passivity.
Secondly, we do not much care for fussy protocol and things like unnecessary meeting. Meetings for the sake of meetings is not the same as Art for the sake of art. This, then, puts us at odds with our managers/handlers. If we know who to go to for an answer, we go there. Simple. Managers usually fail to realize that:
Sales Engineers are the only people in the organization tasked with making all departments work together for the sake of the deal. The CxO is responsible for making all departments work together for the sake of lofty corporate initiatives affecting The Bottom Line, but we are right in the trenches making spreadsheet entries at The Top Line.
There is nothing more exciting than doing our jobs. There is nothing more tedious than filling out paperwork or waiting for a long list of people to give their “OK” to something. Leads dry up and turn to ice in these times.
And lastly, if you have ever seen a really good Sales Engineer in action, you realized that the same qualities that you want (hunter, ravenous, doesn’t let a deal go, thrives on impossible deadlines, never says “I don’t know how to do that”, etc.) are the very same qualities that you don’t want in a docile, political cubicle landscape where subtle cultural nuances rule.Come to think of it, couldn’t you say the same for your sales/account reps?
And that is why your outside/field reps are telecommuters, and why your Sales Engineers should be the same.