North American Association of Sales Engineers

North American Association of Sales Engineers

European Association of Sales Engineers

Unlocking the potential of sales engineers through strategic training programs

In the post-pandemic era, industrial companies face a constantly evolving business landscape, where adaptability and efficiency have become prerequisites for survival and success. This challenging environment demands more than ever a strategic approach to sales force management and training. Industrial small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which form the core of emerging markets and contribute significantly to employment and GDP, are no exception. Staff turnover, coupled with poor planning and forecasting, highlights the urgent need to strengthen the capabilities of sales teams to improve their performance and ensure long-term business continuity. 

Training sales personnel is not only a corrective measure for operational deficiencies; it is a crucial part of a company’s strategic planning. Integrating training into the business strategy ensures that salespeople are not only prepared to handle day-to-day interactions with customers but are also equipped to anticipate changes in the marketplace and respond proactively. Establishing an ongoing mentoring program provides a platform for constant staff development, enabling adaptation to new technologies, selling techniques, and changing market dynamics.

After talking to several experts in the field, the most relevant topics to include in an effective training program for sales engineers are: 

Effective communication: Training must address communication as a critical competency, teaching salespeople techniques to improve clarity and effectiveness in exchanging information with customers and within the team. This includes developing skills in negotiation and presentation, which are essential to closing sales and fostering lasting relationships.  

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Effective use of CRM tools is vital for managing and analyzing customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. Training should delve into how to leverage these tools to improve customer tracking and personalization of interactions, which can lead to increased sales conversion. 

Adapting to change: Preparing salespeople to adapt quickly to market changes is critical. Training should include simulation scenarios and case studies that help salespeople develop flexibility in their sales strategies and innovate how they respond to market challenges.

Sales processes and closing techniques: Detailed training should be provided on the sales process, from prospecting to closing. This includes techniques for overcoming objections, strategies for effective sales closing, and post-sales methods to further nurture customers, ensuring satisfaction and loyalty. 

Product knowledge: A thorough understanding of the products and services offered by the company is critical for salespeople to effectively communicate value and technical features to customers. Training in this area involves not only knowing the product specifications but also understanding how they apply in the context of specific customer needs and challenges. 

Time management: In a dynamic business environment, where multiple tasks compete for salespeople’s attention, effective time management is essential to maximize productivity and performance. Training in this area can include planning techniques, prioritization, and efficient agenda management to ensure that salespeople spend their time optimally on activities that generate tangible results.

Decision autonomy: Empowering salespeople to make informed decisions and exercise autonomy in their work can significantly increase efficiency and job satisfaction. Training in this regard can focus on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, as well as fostering a work environment that values and promotes individual initiative and responsibility. 

By integrating these elements into training programs for industrial salespeople, companies can ensure that their staff is fully prepared to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in an ever-changing marketplace. This comprehensive approach to skills and competency development will contribute not only to the individual success of salespeople but also to the long-term growth and prosperity of the company as a whole.

We can conclude that implementing a well-structured and continuous training program not only improves the technical and strategic competence of sales personnel but also contributes directly to the company’s commercial success. Well-trained salespeople are more effective in closing sales, which translates into higher revenues and, in turn, higher commissions and job satisfaction. For the company, this means not only surviving in a competitive market but thriving, innovating, and expanding. Effective training of sales engineers is not an expense, but an investment in the company’s future.  

Luis Armando Vasquez

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisarmandovasquezruiz/

—————————– Spanish version ——————————-

Liberar al potencial del equipo de ingenieros de ventas a través de la capacitación estratégica

En la era pospandémica, las empresas industriales enfrentan un panorama de negocios que evoluciona constantemente, donde la adaptabilidad y la eficiencia se han convertido en requisitos indispensables para la supervivencia y el éxito. Este entorno desafiante exige más que nunca un enfoque estratégico en la gestión y capacitación del personal de ventas. Las pequeñas y medianas empresas (PYMES) industriales, que forman el núcleo de los mercados emergentes y contribuyen significativamente al empleo y al PIB, no son la excepción. La rotación de personal, junto con la planificación y pronóstico deficientes, resalta la urgente necesidad de fortalecer las capacidades de los equipos de ventas para mejorar su rendimiento y garantizar la continuidad del negocio a largo plazo. 

Capacitar al personal de ventas no solo es una medida correctiva para deficiencias operativas; es una parte crucial de la planificación estratégica de una empresa. Integrar la capacitación en la estrategia de negocio asegura que los vendedores no solo estén preparados para manejar las interacciones del día a día con los clientes, sino que también estén equipados para anticipar cambios en el mercado y responder proactivamente. El establecimiento de un programa de mentorías continuas proporciona una plataforma para el desarrollo constante del personal, permitiendo la adaptación a nuevas tecnologías, técnicas de venta y cambios en la dinámica del mercado.

Después de platicar con varios expertos en campo, los temas más relevantes a incluir en un programa efectivo de capacitación para ingenieros de ventas son: 

Comunicación efectiva: La capacitación debe abordar la comunicación como una competencia crítica, enseñando a los vendedores técnicas para mejorar la claridad y eficacia en el intercambio de información con los clientes y dentro del equipo. Esto incluye el desarrollo de habilidades en la negociación y la presentación, esenciales para cerrar ventas y fomentar relaciones duraderas.

Gestión de Relaciones con Clientes (CRM): El uso efectivo de herramientas CRM es vital para gestionar y analizar interacciones con los clientes y datos a lo largo del ciclo de vida del cliente. La capacitación debe profundizar en cómo aprovechar estas herramientas para mejorar el seguimiento de clientes y la personalización de las interacciones, lo que puede llevar a un incremento en la conversión de ventas.

Adaptación al cambio: Preparar a los vendedores para adaptarse rápidamente a los cambios del mercado es fundamental. La capacitación debe incluir escenarios de simulación y estudios de caso que ayuden a los vendedores a desarrollar flexibilidad en sus estrategias de ventas y a innovar la forma de responder a los desafíos del mercado.

Procesos de ventas y técnicas de cierre: Debe proporcionarse una formación detallada sobre el proceso de ventas, desde la prospección hasta el cierre. Esto incluye técnicas para superar objeciones, estrategias para el cierre efectivo de ventas y métodos postventa para seguir nutriendo clientes, asegurando satisfacción y fidelización.

Conocimiento de producto: Un profundo entendimiento de los productos y servicios que ofrece la empresa es fundamental para que los vendedores puedan comunicar eficazmente el valor y las características técnicas a los clientes. La capacitación en este aspecto no solo implica conocer las especificaciones del producto, sino también comprender cómo se aplican en el contexto de las necesidades y desafíos específicos de los clientes.

Gestión del tiempo: En un entorno comercial dinámico, donde múltiples tareas compiten por la atención de los vendedores, la gestión efectiva del tiempo es esencial para maximizar la productividad y el rendimiento. La capacitación en este ámbito puede incluir técnicas de planificación, establecimiento de prioridades y manejo eficiente de agendas para garantizar que los vendedores dediquen su tiempo de manera óptima a actividades que generen resultados tangibles.  

Autonomía en decisiones: Empoderar a los vendedores para tomar decisiones informadas y ejercer autonomía en su trabajo puede aumentar significativamente la eficiencia y la satisfacción laboral. La capacitación en este sentido puede centrarse en desarrollar habilidades de pensamiento crítico, resolución de problemas y toma de decisiones, así como en fomentar un ambiente de trabajo que valore y promueva la iniciativa y la responsabilidad individual.  

Al integrar estos elementos en los programas de capacitación para vendedores industriales, las empresas pueden asegurarse de que su personal esté completamente preparado para enfrentar los desafíos y aprovechar las oportunidades en un mercado en constante evolución. Este enfoque integral en el desarrollo de habilidades y competencias contribuirá no solo al éxito individual de los vendedores, sino también al crecimiento y la prosperidad a largo plazo de la empresa en su conjunto. 

Podemos concluir que al implementar un programa de capacitación bien estructurado y continuo no solo mejora la competencia técnica y estratégica del personal de ventas, sino que también contribuye directamente al éxito comercial de la empresa. Los vendedores bien capacitados son más eficaces en cerrar ventas, lo que se traduce en mayores ingresos y, a su vez, en mayores comisiones y satisfacción laboral. Para la empresa, esto significa no solo sobrevivir en un mercado competitivo, sino prosperar, innovar y expandirse. La capacitación eficaz de los ingenieros de ventas no es un gasto, sino una inversión en el futuro de la empresa.

Luis Armando Vasquez

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisarmandovasquezruiz/

Letters to a Sales Engineer

SE Michael Edwin has recently created and published several letters directed to sales engineers.  NAASE is glad to repost selected letters- which are some words of advice to new and seasoned technical salespeople.  Which one do you most identify with and agree with?

 All these letters are written by NAASE member and CSE Michael Edwin.

Strategic Allies: How Sales Engineers Elevate Real Estate Businesses

Welcome to the fast-paced world of real estate, where every deal is a delicate dance of negotiations, market trends, and meeting client expectations. Now, let’s talk about a crucial but often overlooked partnership that’s like the secret sauce in this real estate mix – the tag team of real estate pros and sales engineers. These unsung heroes aren’t just tech-savvy wizards; they’re the key players who bring a unique skill set to the table, making real estate transactions not just smoother but also more tech-tastic. Buckle up as we dive into the ways these sales engineers take real estate to new heights!

Getting to Know Sales Engineers

First off, let’s demystify the role of these sales engineers. They’re the bridge builders, connecting the technical nitty-gritty of real estate with what clients actually want. Unlike your typical real estate folks, sales engineers have a deep understanding of construction, systems, and all things tech. Their main gig? Making sure the geeky side of properties lines up seamlessly with what clients need, ensuring a hassle-free transaction.

Adding a Technical Edge for Competitive Advantage

In a world where tech is king, sales engineers bring a high-tech edge to the real estate game. They don’t just stop at the surface-level stuff like location and aesthetics. No sir, they’re the Sherlock Holmes of property, examining HVAC systems, scrutinizing security features, and suggesting tech upgrades – especially for commercial properties. This not only adds extra value to the deal but also turns real estate pros into tech-savvy superheroes with a full grasp of the properties they’re rocking.

Tailoring Solutions to Fit Client Needs

Now, let’s talk about customization. Sales engineers are the masters of tailoring solutions to match each client’s real estate dreams. They get that one size does not fit all in this market. So, they team up with real estate pros to understand clients’ needs and goals. Those who are looking to invest for retirement income might have specific needs. For instance, they might lean towards properties that can serve as a legacy asset, providing a valuable inheritance for future generations. Retirees may prioritize building wealth through real estate to leave a financial legacy for their heirs or charitable causes. Real estate pros can work with sales engineers to stand out and offer a service that is crafted according to these preferences.

Improving Communication and Decision-Making

Communication and decision-making get a turbo boost when real estate pros team up with sales engineers. These tech whizzes don’t just speak in binary code; they’re pros at translating tech jargon into plain English. This skill comes in handy during negotiations, helping real estate agents confidently present the critical details and address client concerns.This is particularly valuable for turnkey real estate investors who often require a thorough understanding of potential investments. Sales engineers play a pivotal role in this process by providing every relevant detail, empowering investors to well-informed decisions and proceed with confidence. 

Wrap up

The synergy between real estate pros and sales engineers isn’t just a partnership – it’s a power duo that can skyrocket a real estate business. In a world where technology is shaking things up, sales engineers are becoming the MVPs, guiding us through the twists and turns of real estate investing. It’s not just about selling properties; it’s about crafting tailor-made solutions that dazzle clients. So, as the tech revolution continues to reshape the real estate landscape, remember this dynamic duo. The collaboration between real estate pros and sales engineers isn’t just a game-changer; it’s a powerful force that’s propelling the whole real estate business to new heights. Get ready to ride the tech wave, because these sales engineers are steering us toward a future where real estate meets innovation head-on!

Written by guest writer Austin Page

The True Worth of a Sales Engineer- as a Business Consultant

Sales engineers (and similar titles like “Solutions Consultants”) are often viewed as a trusted advisor, and in many ways work much like a consultant for their client and/or prospect.

That is the way that we (SE’s) should view ourselves, and ideally that is the way that our clients view us, and even our employers should view us.  We are essentially business consultants- that work with and partner with a client company to improve their own efficiencies and profits (via of course one of our services/products/offerings).

What is it worth to a firm to brainstorm and work together with you, a technical sales professional, to help them and their department?  They are seeking a valid solution- an answer.  Often times those solutions can be a bit obtuse and complicated.  And that is why they are speaking to you, someone with relevant experience who has also assisted many other (similar) companies.

In this fashion the SE is very much like a 3rd party business consultant.  Consultants are called in frequently to really dig into a problem and work to create viable solutions.  What does a company pay for a temporary consultant to come in and provide their own analysis and suggestions?

According to Consulting Mavericks, it varies quite a bit.  Anywhere from $100/hour to $500/hour.  Seems like a good general average is between $200- $300/hour.  $200/hour is roughly $400k per year- if it was extrapolated out to full-time.

Are you earning $400k per year?  Most likely not.  The median compensation for an SE in 2023 was roughly $150k/year – and that can vary greatly.

The point is that the best SE’s out there are considered trusted advisors, or trusted “consultants”, and their clients know the numbers and the value mentioned above.  Instead of paying $300/hr they are essentially paying nothing (directly).  They likely are paying for a type of software or some other tool or piece of equipment, but the company likely would be paying for that anyhow- at the recommendation of a hired consultant.

This article is not to diminish the worth of a true, 3rd party business consultant.  In most of those cases, said consultant is not attempting to sell anything or any product- other than their own acumen and knowledge.

Know your worth out there in the marketplace.  The market is your employer and also your clients and prospects.  Having this confidence and attitude will actually help you in becoming a better and more savvy sales engineer.

Keys to Effective Client Engagement in Sales Engineering

Sales engineers play a crucial role in bridging the gap between technical intricacies and client needs, ensuring a seamless journey from initial interaction to successful product implementation. This article delves into the key strategies and principles that contribute to fostering meaningful and enduring client relationships in the world of sales engineering.

Understanding the Client’s Needs

Successful client engagement starts with a deep understanding of the client’s needs. Sales engineers must go beyond surface-level interactions to comprehend the unique challenges and objectives of each client. This requires active listening, asking insightful questions, and demonstrating a genuine interest in the client’s business operations.
Understanding the client’s pain points, goals, and constraints will help sales engineers tailor their approach to offer solutions that align seamlessly with the client’s objectives. This empathetic understanding not only builds trust but also positions the sales engineer as a valuable partner rather than a mere vendor.

Clear Communication is Key

Clarity is vital in communication. Sales engineers must convey complex technical information in understandable terms, avoiding jargon. Utilizing clear and concise language, avoiding jargon, and incorporating visual aids can help bridge the communication gap and ensure that clients grasp the value proposition.
Additionally, maintaining open lines of communication throughout the sales process is crucial. Regular updates, transparent discussions about potential challenges, and collaborative problem-solving contribute to a sense of partnership between the sales engineer and the client. 

Safeguarding Organizational and Client Data

Sales engineers must prioritize protecting organizational and client data through robust systems and processes, such as obtaining a SOC 3 report. This report provides independent assurance that an organization’s controls effectively protect against security risks, contributing to client confidence and overall organizational credibility. Showcasing adherence to such stringent standards not only instills confidence in clients but also contributes to the overall credibility of the organization.

Demonstrating Value Through Proof of Concept

Actions speak louder than words in sales engineering. A well-executed proof of concept (PoC) validates claims and instills confidence in the client while showcasing the practical benefits of the proposed solution. This hands-on approach deepens the connection between the client and the sales engineer, providing concrete evidence of the product’s value.

Building Lasting Relationships Through Education

Sales engineers are responsible for product sales and ensuring clients can use it effectively. Comprehensive training and educational resources empower clients to maximize the value of their investment. This commitment to ongoing support and education builds a foundation for lasting relationships, as clients recognize the added value beyond the initial sale.

Adapting to Evolving Client Needs

Technology is constantly evolving, and client needs are no exception. Sales engineers must stay attuned to industry trends, emerging technologies, and changes in client requirements. 
Regular reassessment ensures that proposed solutions align with client goals. This adaptability demonstrates a commitment to staying current in a rapidly changing landscape and positions the sales engineer as a forward-thinking partner invested in the client’s success.

Conclusion

Effective client engagement in sales engineering requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes understanding client needs and goals. Emphasizing data security through processes like the SOC 3 report is also essential for building trust and ensuring long-term client relationships. Sales engineers who prioritize effective client engagement and data security will stand out as leaders in the field, driving innovation, building resilient partnerships, and fostering a secure digital future.

Thanks to the author of this article Austin Page

Financial Statement Literacy For Sales Engineers

Financial literacy is uncommon because the majority of most companies’ employees don’t know how to read Balance Sheets and Income Statements.  Why is this?  Most instruction about finance pertains to personal concerns such as checking accounts, insurance, mortgages, certificates of deposit, etc.  Balance Sheets and Income Statements are excluded because they are much larger and complex topics, most often included in business school curricula.

Unfortunately, the lack of financial skills prevents a company-wide connection with corporate and customer financial goals.  That is, shareholder financial objectives can be an abstraction for many department heads and employees.  These work associates, talented as they are, don’t understand the exact mechanics of, and risks to, Income Statement profitability or Balance Sheet health.  Also, customers can sense that your staff’s skills and activities are not focused on their financial needs and objectives.   

Finance Insights, LLC reduces this costly knowledge gap with its 90 minute in person training module that explains financial statement structures and demonstrates how companies achieve profitability by growing and controlling specific line items on their Income Statements.  If this type of instruction could be helpful to your organization, a Finance Insights presentation at your next employee gathering or training session will be a worthwhile addition.  At the end of the seminar, attendees will be able to: 

  • Contribute to employer and customer revenue growth initiatives.
  • Generate specific ideas to strengthen cost containment objectives.
  • Employ financial statement knowledge to create solutions aligned with employer and customer goals.
  •  Effectively engage in and meaningfully contribute to budgeting and financial discussions.

 With Finance Insights, LLC’s 90-minute format, financial statement literacy can be conveniently delivered in a variety of settings ranging from one-off staff meetings to formalized training sessions.  Presentation content is effective and interactive while lively and entertaining.  For more information, please visit www.financeinsights.us

B2B / Tech Sales / Sales Engineering:  Taking a Look from the Procurement Side

If you are in B2B within a SE or presales role, it is smart to consider what is happening on the “other side” of the table- the buyer/prospect’s procurement team.  This has a significant affect on whether your company will make the sale.  What are they looking at?  What are they analyzing?  Why would they buy a product/ SaaS from you instead of someone else or retain what they already have?

In considering these questions, I read a recent article from Edgeworth Box, titled Good Procurement Practices Massively Lower Costs:

https://www.edgeworthbox.com/good-procurement-practices-massively-lower-costs/

Their article has a few key points: “Internal discussions about procurement tend to focus on cost above all else. The procurement department exists to beat down suppliers and ensure that they get the best price or to enforce policies and procedures intended to curb waste, fraud, and abuse.

An interesting study from researchers at Yale University, Columbia University, and the University of California, Berkeley highlights two key contributing factors to higher costs in procurement: the capacity of the procurement department executing the purchase, and insufficient competition among bidders.”

They claim that a strong procurement team typically spends about 30% less on needed products and services than an average procurement team.   In addition, “Understaffing of procurement talent means that states outsource work to expensive third-party consultants. Consultants may not be as motivated to drive an optimal outcome. This is also complicated by poor specification of the project or the need to change the project mid-stream. This is noteworthy given well-documented reductions in procurement workforces.”

There is a lot to consider here.

For one, most procurement departments are understaffed.  Too few people doing too much.  This is a big reason why B2B purchases and contracts can take FOREVER.   But also, they are looking for anything to simplify their jobs and decisions.  Thus, try to make it easier for them to select you.

On the Sales side, our job is to differentiate our product/ our software so that the prospect cannot truly compare our product to several competitors.  We don’t want it to be all about price.  In many cases we may not want there to be an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

However, that is exactly what the procurement team, or their 3rd party consultant, will be doing.  They will compare the several considered products or software by features, other factors, and of course upfront and ongoing costs.  Generally, the procurement department is not your “champion” at the company.  They likely have never met you and there is no personal or direct relationship with you or the Account Executive.

The procurement department wants to select an option between several different bidders/vendors.  They don’t want a unicorn.  They cannot compare a unicorn to other similar companies.  However, many companies pitch their product like it is a unicorn.  “You can’t compare us to XYZ Company”, etc.  We in Sales can say that, but we will be compared to XYZ Company.  That is the reality.

Knowing what the other side values and will do is important in any B2B scenario.  Know in detail how your product compares to others that are related or semi-related.  And try to make the protocols and provisions easier for the procurement department when applicable.

They have a job to do, as do you.   The goal is to align those jobs and outcomes as much as feasible and realistic.

Boosting Sales in Industrial SMEs: A Strategic Approach with Porter’s Five Forces

Last June, I had the privilege of participating in a fascinating conference held in the vibrant city of Manchester, UK. As a sales engineer two years into my PhD in Business Administration, I have managed to combine my practical sales experience with dedicated research in areas related to sales, marketing and sales team management. During my stay at the conference, I was given the opportunity to be a speaker and share my research advances in optimizing the management of sales departments. Let me share with you some details of this research and the insights that emerged in this enriching context.

Within the framework of the conference, I explored how the application of the Viable System Model (VSM) can revolutionize the efficiency and effectiveness of sales processes in small and medium-sized industrial enterprises (SMEs).

The global crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for industrial SMEs, especially in their sales and marketing operations. However, by implementing VSM in combination with proven management tools, such as Porter’s famous Five Forces, these companies can achieve a deeper and more contextualized understanding of their sales processes. This gives them the ability to make informed strategic decisions aligned with their internal objectives and capabilities.

VSM is a methodology that provides companies with the ability to analyze both external competitive interactions and the broader factors that govern their environment, without neglecting the organization’s internal adaptability and management. The synergy between VSM and Porter’s Five Forces leads to greater value creation in the business environment, paving the way for better informed and contextualized strategic decisions.

From this perspective, it becomes essential for SMEs to consider the possibility of redesigning their sales structures together with other management tools to achieve exceptional results. Shouldn’t we ask ourselves whether it is feasible to reengineer the business model of each SME? This question gives us food for thought.

For industrial SMEs seeking to optimize their sales processes, the application of VSM emerges as an invaluable tool. By merging this methodology with other management tools, organizations can obtain a holistic and contextualized view of their sales processes, which in turn facilitates data-backed strategic decision-making aligned with their internal goals and capabilities.

Now, moving into the additional tools I discussed at the conference, we explore Porter’s Five Forces as a complement to the Viable System Model.

Michael Porter’s Five Forces analytical framework stands as an essential resource for sales engineers to understand the competitive dynamics of the industry in which they operate. By internalizing these forces, sales engineers can strategize to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities.

The five forces are:

  • Rivalry among existing competitors: This factor refers to the level of competition among companies within an industry. High rivalry can make it difficult to gain market share and make profits.
  • Threat of entry by new competitors: This refers to the difficulty faced by new firms when entering an industry. High barriers to entry can act as obstacles to new competitors.
  • Threat of substitute products or services: Here, the availability of alternatives that can satisfy the same need as the existing product or service is evaluated. A high threat of substitutes can put pressure on prices and profits.
  • Bargaining power of suppliers: This refers to the level of influence that suppliers have over companies in an industry. High bargaining power can drive up costs and limit profits.
  • Bargaining power of customers: This aspect relates to the level of influence that customers wield over companies in an industry. High bargaining power can lead to pricing and profit pressures.

By understanding these five forces, sales engineers can develop strategies that enable them to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities. For example, if rivalry among competitors is intense, sales engineers can focus on developing differentiated products or services that offer unique value to customers. When facing a strong influx of new competitors, tactics can be employed to establish substantial barriers to entry, such as cultivating recognizable brands or securing patents. In situations where the threat of substitutes is high, sales engineers can focus on improving the quality and value of their offerings. If the bargaining power of suppliers or customers is significant, strong relationships can be built or pricing and service strategies can be adapted.

By applying Michael Porter’s Five Forces and utilizing them, sales engineers possess tools to effectively tackle challenges and maximize the opportunities existing within their industry.

Thus, the conference in Manchester marked a milestone in my doctoral research, leaving me with the next step: refining the findings for eventual publication in a research journal. I optimistically assume that this path will culminate in acceptance in the short term. Following the conference, I had the opportunity to explore London, Paris, and some cities in Spain, which undoubtedly added an unforgettable dimension to this enriching experience.

Luis Armando Vasquez

Sales engineer & technical copywriter

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisarmandovasquezruiz/

—————————– Spanish Version————————–

Potenciando Ventas en PyMEs Industriales: Un Enfoque Estratégico con las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter

El pasado mes de Junio, tuve el privilegio de participar en una fascinante conferencia realizada en la vibrante ciudad de Manchester, Reino Unido. Como ingeniero de ventas con una trayectoria de dos años en mi Doctorado en Administración de Empresas, he logrado combinar mi experiencia práctica en ventas con una dedicada investigación en áreas relacionadas con ventas, marketing y gestión de equipos de ventas. Durante mi estancia en la conferencia, se me brindó la oportunidad de ser ponente y compartir los avances de mi investigación en la optimización de la gestión de los departamentos de ventas. Permíteme compartir contigo algunos detalles de esta investigación y las ideas que emergieron en este contexto enriquecedor.

En el marco de la conferencia, exploré cómo la aplicación del Modelo de Sistema Viable (VSM) puede revolucionar la eficiencia y efectividad de los procesos de ventas en pequeñas y medianas empresas (PyMEs) industriales.

La crisis global generada por la pandemia de COVID-19 trajo consigo desafíos sin precedentes para las PyMEs industriales, especialmente en sus operaciones de ventas y marketing. Sin embargo, al implementar el VSM en combinación con herramientas de gestión probadas, como las célebres Cinco Fuerzas de Porter, estas empresas pueden alcanzar una comprensión más profunda y contextualizada de sus procesos de ventas. Esto les confiere la capacidad de tomar decisiones estratégicas informadas y alineadas con sus objetivos y capacidades internas.

El VSM es una metodología que brinda a las empresas la capacidad de analizar tanto las interacciones competitivas externas como los factores más amplios que rigen su entorno, sin descuidar la adaptabilidad y el manejo interno de la organización. La sinergia entre el VSM y las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter propicia una mayor creación de valor en el ámbito comercial, allanando el camino para decisiones estratégicas mejor fundamentadas y contextualizadas.

Desde esta perspectiva, se vuelve fundamental que las PyMEs consideren la posibilidad de rediseñar sus estructuras de ventas en compañía de otras herramientas de gestión para lograr resultados excepcionales. ¿No deberíamos cuestionarnos si es viable una reingeniería del modelo de negocio de cada PyME? Esta pregunta nos lleva a reflexionar.

Para las PyMEs industriales en búsqueda de optimizar sus procesos de ventas, la aplicación del VSM emerge como una herramienta de invaluable utilidad. Al fusionar esta metodología con otras herramientas de gestión, las organizaciones pueden obtener una visión holística y contextualizada de sus procesos de ventas, lo que a su vez facilita la toma de decisiones estratégicas respaldadas por datos y alineadas con sus metas y capacidades internas.

Ahora, adentrándonos en las herramientas adicionales que abordé en la conferencia, exploramos las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter como complemento al Modelo de Sistema Viable.

El marco analítico de las Cinco Fuerzas de Michael Porter se erige como un recurso esencial para que los ingenieros de ventas puedan comprender las dinámicas competitivas de la industria en la que operan. Al interiorizar estas fuerzas, los ingenieros de ventas pueden trazar estrategias que les permitan superar desafíos y capitalizar oportunidades.

Las cinco fuerzas son:

Rivalidad entre competidores existentes: Este factor hace referencia al nivel de competencia entre las empresas que integran una industria. Una alta rivalidad puede dificultar la ganancia de cuota de mercado y la obtención de beneficios.

Amenaza de entrada de nuevos competidores: En este caso, se trata de la dificultad que enfrentan las nuevas empresas al ingresar a una industria. Barreras de entrada elevadas pueden actuar como obstáculos para nuevos competidores.

Amenaza de productos o servicios sustitutos: Aquí se evalúa la disponibilidad de alternativas que pueden satisfacer la misma necesidad que el producto o servicio existente. Una alta amenaza de sustitutos puede ejercer presión sobre precios y beneficios.

Poder de negociación de proveedores: Se refiere al nivel de influencia que los proveedores ostentan sobre las empresas en una industria. Un poder de negociación alto puede encarecer los costos y limitar la obtención de beneficios.

Poder de negociación de los clientes: Este aspecto se relaciona con el nivel de influencia que los clientes ejercen sobre las empresas en una industria. Un poder de negociación alto puede llevar a presiones en los precios y los beneficios.

Al comprender estas cinco fuerzas, los ingenieros de ventas pueden desarrollar estrategias que les permitan enfrentar desafíos y capitalizar oportunidades. Por ejemplo, si la rivalidad entre competidores es intensa, los ingenieros de ventas pueden enfocarse en desarrollar productos o servicios diferenciados que ofrezcan un valor único a los clientes. Si la amenaza de nuevos competidores es alta, se pueden implementar estrategias para erigir barreras de entrada sólidas, como la construcción de marcas reconocibles o la obtención de patentes. En situaciones donde la amenaza de sustitutos es elevada, los ingenieros de ventas pueden centrarse en la mejora de la calidad y el valor de su oferta. Si el poder de negociación de proveedores o clientes es significativo, se pueden construir relaciones sólidas o adaptar estrategias de precios y servicios.

Mediante la comprensión y aplicación de las Cinco Fuerzas de Michael Porter, los ingenieros de ventas tienen a su disposición herramientas para afrontar los desafíos y maximizar las oportunidades presentes en su industria.

Así, la conferencia en Manchester marcó un hito en mi investigación doctoral, dejándome con el siguiente paso: refinar los hallazgos para su eventual publicación en una revista especializada en investigación. Asumo con optimismo que este camino culminará en una aceptación a corto plazo. Posterior a la conferencia, tuve la oportunidad de explorar Londres, París y algunas ciudades de España, lo que indudablemente añadió una dimensión inolvidable a esta experiencia enriquecedora.

Luis Armando Vasquez

Sales engineer & technical copywriter

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisarmandovasquezruiz/

Expert Job-Related Advice for Certified Sales Engineers

As you may already be aware, certified sales engineers occupy a vital and influential position within the sales landscape. They serve as the crucial link between intricate technical knowledge and the art of implementing effective sales strategies. If you’re a certified sales engineer, you have a unique skill set. In essence, you’re able to effectively navigate through a plethora of complex processes that are directly related to selling your products and or services. That being said, you can always learn a bit more about the industry in general in order to set yourself up for success. On that note, the following information will provide you with practical advice, guidance, insights and tips that will help you advance your career as a certified sales engineer.

Leverage Your Certification

Did you know that being a certified sales engineer gives you a competitive edge in your industry?  Basically, your certification validates your expertise and demonstrates your commitment to professional growth. However, you need to showcase your certification proudly, and leverage it in order to build credibility with your customers, clients, current employer and potential employers. The bottom line here is that you need to let everyone know that you have both the knowledge and skills to create valid solutions that will not only meet, but far exceed their needs and expectations.

Let your clients know that you have the knowledge and skills to provide tailored solutions that meet their specific needs.

  • Stay Updated on Industry Trends: To excel as a sales engineer, you must stay ahead of the curve in terms of industry trends and technological advancements. Make it a priority to continuously educate yourself about emerging technologies, market dynamics, and customer demands. This knowledge will help you position yourself as a trusted advisor to your clients, offering insights and solutions that align with their evolving needs.
  • Hone Your Communication Skills: Effective communication is at the heart of successful sales engineering. As a certified sales engineer, focus on honing your communication skills to clearly convey complex technical concepts to both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Adapt your communication style to resonate with different audiences and ensure they understand the value and benefits of your offerings. Strong communication skills will help you build rapport and trust with your clients.
  • Develop Consultative Selling Techniques: Sales engineering is about more than just selling products; it’s about providing consultative solutions. Embrace a consultative selling approach by truly understanding your clients’ pain points and challenges. Ask probing questions, actively listen, and provide customized solutions that address their specific needs. By positioning yourself as a trusted advisor, you’ll not only close deals but also build long-term partnerships.
  • Collaborate Effectively with Teams: Sales engineers thrive in collaborative environments. Partner closely with your sales and technical teams to leverage their expertise and ensure a seamless customer experience. Foster open communication channels, share knowledge, and work together to overcome challenges. By collaborating effectively, you’ll create a cohesive team that can deliver exceptional results for your clients.
  • Embrace Continuous Professional Development: Certification is just the beginning of your journey as a sales engineer. Embrace a mindset of continuous professional development. Seek out training opportunities, attend industry events, and network with fellow professionals to expand your knowledge and stay up to date with the latest trends. Continuously enhancing your skills and expertise will keep you ahead of the curve and enable you to provide innovative solutions to your clients.

Conclusion: Congratulations on being a certified sales engineer! The North American Association of Sales Engineers proudly sponsors this article to support your professional growth. By leveraging your certification, staying updated on industry trends, honing your communication skills, adopting a consultative selling approach, collaborating effectively with teams, and embracing continuous professional development, you’ll navigate the sales engineering landscape with confidence and success. Remember, as a certified sales engineer, you have the knowledge and skills to make a significant impact on your clients’ businesses. So, go out there and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead!

Written by Josh Leventhal (Info@SpreadTheWordMarketing.com)

Boosting Productivity for Sales Engineers: Unleashing AI for Smarter Solutions

I often say Sales Engineers are like the special forces of the revenue team – we’re brought in to not only highlight technical features but also champion customers’ pain points and demonstrate how the product can best address them practically. In my 8 years as a SE, I’ve evolved beyond creating product demos and coding in pre-sales activities, taking on multiple hats – some even say I moonlight as a Swiss Army knife for the revenue team!

In this thrilling journey, I’ve become proficient in everything from CRMs, Product Management software, to creating business cases for new initiatives. So, it’s no surprise that like special forces, SEs like me adopt cutting-edge tools to stay razor-sharp. This is how I became an early adopter of ChatGPT, and using AI as a force enabler has multiplied my productivity while keeping both internal and external “customers” happy. Here’s a rundown of the various ways I’ve harnessed the power of ChatGPT as a Sales Engineer:

  1. Refining product demo video scripts and generating voiceovers: ChatGPT has helped me create polished and engaging scripts for product demos. With the right prompts, it not only improved my talk tracks but also provided transitions and visuals. Then, I added another layer of AI for text-to-speech voiceovers – it’s like an AI inception: AI-written scripts spoken by AI, talking about AI. Mind-blowing, right?
  2.  Assisting with coding and providing code solutions to specific client problems: ChatGPT has been instrumental in guiding me through the coding process and offering tailored code solutions for client issues. I can provide email conversations, and it generates accurate code solutions with faster turnaround times. It also fine-tunes my responses to technical queries by proofreading them for clarity and context.
  3.  Answering RFPs and Security Questionnaires: Crafting contextualized answers based on existing knowledge is made easier, allowing me to focus on proofreading for accuracy and ensuring faster turnaround.
  4. Conducting competitor analysis to highlight our product’s competitive edge: ChatGPT digs deep into competitors’ offerings, comparing features, pricing, and more, so I can confidently showcase our product’s advantages.
  5. Creating and updating technical documentation, such as user guides and FAQs: ChatGPT has been a lifesaver in generating and updating technical documents, ensuring our customers have access to accurate, up-to-date product information.
  6. Developing comprehensive training materials for both internal and external stakeholders: ChatGPT’s assistance allows me to develop and update training resources, streamlining onboarding and ongoing learning.
  7. Crafting personalized customer outreach messages for improved engagement: ChatGPT helps me draft personalized emails and LinkedIn messages for prospects, making my outreach efforts more engaging and relevant, and refining my reposts of our organization’s social outreach.
  8. Preparing for meetings with suggested talking points and insights into customer concerns: ChatGPT has been a game-changer in generating talking points, responses to potential objections, and insights into customer concerns for my meetings. I can also review call recordings and compare them with my notes to create clear summaries of customer meetings, capturing key points, decisions, and action items.

There are other avenues where SE’s can also use AI for enablement, such as collaborating with marketing teams to create content like blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies or analyzing historical data to create accurate sales forecasts and identify potential pipeline bottlenecks. So the use cases will continue to grow as AI becomes the force multiplier it is.

Now for the disclaimer – while productivity gains have been significant, it’s essential to consider the potential privacy concerns when using ChatGPT for these use cases. Some concerns that organizations may have include:

  • Sharing sensitive customer information: When using ChatGPT to craft proposals or personalized outreach messages, there’s a risk of exposing sensitive customer information to the AI.
  • Intellectual property protection: Utilizing ChatGPT for tasks like coding, creating marketing materials, or generating technical documents could potentially lead to concerns about protecting the organization’s intellectual property – think of it as keeping the secret sauce recipe safe.
  • Data storage and access: As ChatGPT processes and generates content, there may be concerns about where this data is stored, who has access to it, and how securely it is managed.
  • Compliance with industry-specific regulations: Certain industries, such as finance and healthcare, have strict regulations regarding data privacy and security. Organizations in these sectors may be hesitant to adopt AI solutions like ChatGPT without a thorough evaluation and understanding of the potential risks – better safe than sorry, right?

To address these privacy concerns, both SEs and their organizations can take the following measures:

  • Anonymize sensitive data: Before sharing any customer information with ChatGPT, ensure that personally identifiable information (PII) is removed or anonymized.
  • Implement access controls: Establish strict access controls to limit who can use ChatGPT and what information they can share with the AI, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data exposure.
  • Secure data storage: Ensure that data storage and processing systems adhere to industry best practices and security standards, reducing the likelihood of data breaches.
  • Regularly review AI-generated content: Periodically review the content generated by ChatGPT to ensure it aligns with your organization’s privacy policies and industry regulations – trust, but verify.

There’s no doubt that the AI revolution sparked by ChatGPT has made it an invaluable tool in my Sales Engineer toolkit, boosting my productivity and efficiency across a multitude of tasks. After all, AI is here to stay beyond just ChatGPT – we will all be seeing products and tools which Sales Engineer’s speak to incorporating AI more and more. By harnessing the power of AI, I can focus on what I do best – solving complex customer problems and driving business growth. While privacy concerns are valid, with the right precautions and responsible usage, organizations can benefit from the incredible potential that AI solutions like ChatGPT have to offer. And just like that, we’ve leveled up in the game of sales engineering!

Special thanks to the author of this article Faraz

Why did I choose PreSales engineering as a profession?

Upon graduating from college, I networked and got my first job as a Technical Application Consultant at Kronos, now UKG. I found myself, in terms of what motivates me and brings me joy. I had several amazing experiences that allowed me to sum up my “why” in a clear cohesive way. I called it my three T’s which stands for Technical, Train, and Travel. It’s ironic because as I write this post, I’m mid-flight to Melbourne Australia, reviewing APIs docs, in preparation to deliver a 4-day workshop and training session to a prospect. Let me dive into what I mean by these three T’s a little further.

Technical – I love learning about new technology and how the tech can be used to efficiently solve problems. The outcome I’m searching for is how to streamline workflows to give people their time back to reinvest in solving higher caliber business concerns. Whether I’m advising on the right API for the job, recommending the best partnership integration to manage a business, or submitting a bug fix to patch the code, this is what brings me happiness.

Train – I believe in never keeping a good thing quiet. I love sharing knowledge, my learnings, and helping others acquire necessary skill sets to do their jobs. I initially found this passion on my first day teaching as an undergraduate teaching assistant at Indiana University under the guidance of professor Charles Pope. We were learning how to build websites and I witnessed students use their creativity to build something that reflected what they were passionate about. My love for teaching has evolved into the workforce and encapsulates both enterprise and small to medium sized businesses.

Travel – Who doesn’t love to see the world? Traveling to new places, immersing myself into various cultures, and living like the locals are parts of life that I discovered were most important to me. By incorporating travel into my career I found I was getting the best of both worlds. I use my experience in various locations and share it with my clients. I share stories on how other businesses are solving their problems in their own unique way and find relatable ways to solve problems in a global fashion.

This article was written by NAASE Advisory Board Member Mary Carter.  To learn more about Mary, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryecarter/

Key skills for sales engineers to leverage T-MEC and nearshoring

In recent years, the phenomenon of nearshoring has gained momentum in Mexico, which has significant implications for the United States in terms of trade and investment. Nearshoring refers to the outsourcing of services and commercial activities to suppliers located in nearby or neighboring countries, rather than doing so in distant or off-continent locations.


In the case of Mexico, the entry into force of the T-MEC (United States-Mexico-Canada
Agreement) in 2020 has been a catalyst for the increase in nearshoring, as the treaty
establishes new trade rules among the three countries, promoting investment and economic growth in the region.


Nearshoring in Mexico has significant implications for the United States, as many of the
investors and companies that are outsourcing services and commercial activities are American or have their headquarters there. Therefore, nearshoring is expected to increase trade and investment between the two countries, as well as increase competition in national and international markets.


It is time for suppliers to take advantage of this opportunity and offer world-class products and services to the industry arriving in the country.


For sales engineers in Mexico, this implies that they must be prepared to meet the needs of the new companies arriving in the country through this phenomenon. This includes a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of these companies, as well as the ability to communicate and relate effectively with them. Now more than ever, it is important to act as a consultant when selling and know how to assist others.


In terms of skills that sales engineers should acquire to show their products or services to new companies with appropriate professionalism, it is important to highlight the following:


Market knowledge: Sales engineers must have a detailed knowledge of the market in
which they want to sell their products or services, including the industry, competitors,
market trends, and local regulations.


Effective communication skills: Sellers must have effective communication skills to
establish trust relationships with customers, understand their needs, and convey the
benefits and features of their products or services.


Intercultural skills: Given that many of the investors and companies outsourcing
services and commercial activities in Mexico are American, sellers must have
intercultural skills to communicate effectively and establish trust relationships with clients
from different cultures. Of course, English language skills are essential to add value.


Technical knowledge: To sell technical products or services, sellers must have
adequate technical knowledge to understand the technical features of the products and
services they are offering.


Negotiation skills: In the sales process, there will always be situations that require
strong negotiation skills. Sellers must have the ability to understand the customer’s point
of view and be prepared to make concessions to close a deal.


In conclusion, nearshoring in Mexico has significant implications for the United States in terms of trade and investment. Sales engineers must be prepared to meet the needs of the new companies arriving in Mexico through this phenomenon, acquiring skills that go far beyond quality, price, and specification compliance. With these skills, sales engineers can establish solid and lasting business relationships with companies that are outsourcing services and commercial activities in Mexico, allowing them to make the most of the opportunities offered by nearshoring and T-MEC. In summary, sales engineers who are prepared and acquire the appropriate skills can thrive in the context of nearshoring in Mexico and capitalize on the growing investment and trade market between the United States and Mexico.

Thanks to the Author of this article  Luis Vasquez.