What Makes an Awesome Sales Engineer?

By Chris Lott | Sales | 1668 Views | Leave a Comment    

Sales engineering is truly an art-form. To be awesome, a sales engineer needs to invest effort into the technology, the business opportunity, and most importantly their personal style. I like to say they need to be left and right brained. Technical, creative, personable comes to mind. They also need to gain the trust of those they are partnered with and presenting to. Here are my 5 points of discussion of becoming an awesome sales engineer.


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Top 5 traits of an awesome sales engineer.

  1. They are integral part of the sales team.
  2. They should never present themselves as a sales person.
  3. They need to understand the business needs.
  4. They must be technically knowledgeable.
  5. They need to know their audience.

Let me expound…

1.) Sales Engineers are integral part of the sales team.
My mantra has always been “I am here for you” to the sales teams I have partnered with. They are never worried that I will take over their client relationship. They know I’m a partner to their success and recognition. They are comfortable with my technical and presentation capabilities.

“I can typically size up the knowledge level of the client contact in front of me. I never embarrass them with trying to prove I am smarter… especially if their boss is in the meeting.” – Chris Lott

2.) Sales Engineers should never present themselves as a sales person.
A sales professionals core job is to maintain customer relationships and sell what the company sells. A sales engineers job on the other hand is a totally different animal. While sales engineers do need to support their salesperson it’s their job to make sure that the product, service and/or solution they sell is relevant, effective, right-fit, and complete for the particular customer. Sales engineers need to become the trusted advisor.

Note: With that said… an awesome sales engineer will be part of the sales team helping to strategize on how best to close the opportunity as well.

3.) Sales Engineers need to understand the business needs.
Presenting technology for technology’s sake is a complete waste of time. Presentation after presentation with no buy-off from the potential client is just crazy and yet I have seen this time and time again. Understanding business requirements and applying the technology to those requirements is vital to success. To be an awesome sales engineer they have to understand both business and technology enough to map the technical solutions to actual business requirements simply and easy.

“I always leave a meeting with “Wow, I really believe this is a great fit” – Chris Lott

4.) Sales Engineers must be technically knowledgeable.
An awesome sales engineer will treat his/her position hands-on with a lab – proof of concept presentation – and not “theory”. Way too often I see engineers reading from powerpoint slides because they don’t really know the products or material they are presenting.

Maintaining an appropriate level of technical knowledge becomes harder and harder as more products are thrown at the sales engineer, but they must do it anyways. If they can’t speak to the product or solutions features and benefits without slides or data sheets they shouldn’t be speaking.

“ Awesome sales engineers need to become the beta-tester, go to guru, for their product line.” – Chris Lott

Note: The best advice I can offer on staying technically knowledgeable is not being afraid to ask and or say you don’t know. If you need training ask for it, if you need info find someone who knows it and talk to them. Make it work in a lab environment – hands-on.

5.) Sales Engineers need to know their audience.
They need to research a potential customer, their requirements, and their environment as much as possible. Pre-Sales Engineers need to know what their interests, repetitions and pain points are before walking into a meeting whenever possible. Any technical conversation should be a fluid ebbing and flowing with the customer’s feedback. In other words listen and don’t always mentor. And for heavens sake an awesome sales engineer needs to be excited about their product and possible solutions.

“Always share new found expertise with others… it creates a collaborative environment that benefits everyone.” – Chris Lott

Practicing the art.

Like any other art… sales engineering must be practiced. Pre-sales engineers must study the products and services their company sells, develop their presentation skills, and constantly work on their communication talents.

“An awesome sales engineer needs to… Recognize, Conceptualize, Present/Evangelize and Adjust/Adapt.” – Chris Lott

4 Tools for an awesome sales engineering presentation.

    1.) Simple 10 slide powerpoint presentations. If a sales engineer can’t explain what they do simply then they don’t understand their product. They should never read through a powerpoint presentation but only use for topic discussion. Keep it interesting with some factoids.

    2.) Pre-configure virtual presentations through products like mightymeeting. On the go, mobile, and impressive. Simple and easy.

    3.) Awesome sales engineers will always have their product to present even on an initial appointment (discovery).

    4.) They need to become a whiteboard guru… this takes practice but is essential in training and presentations many times. Whiteboards don’t need projectors and/or LAN/WAN connections.

Note: As in any presentation awesome sales engineers should always ensure they’re maintaining relevance to the audience and the business.

In summary… Build a style and methodology that works for you and don’t be afraid to change or modify them as you find areas for improvement. The better you get… the more value you give the potential customer, team, and company. Ultimately the more sales opportunities get closed which is the end goal of course.

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Chris Lott has this crazy creative side that motivates him to design websites and write articles. He's a disruptive technologist and is passionate about sales, family, and anything related to technology. See what others are saying about his work!.


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