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:
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
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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
Whether you are soon going on your very first job interview for a SE role, or you have been through a couple over the years, it is wise to understand what types of questions you will be asked in that phone or face-to-face job interview. Not being prepared will likely mean there is no second interview or further conversations. NAASE is sharing a recent article from Indeed about the topic, along with some of our general comments about these questions- and some possible ways to answer.
*These likely/ recommended questions are via Indeed:
In a sales engineer interview, you can expect questions about your experience and general background so an employer can determine if you have the skills and qualifications they’re looking for from a new hire. Here are some questions the hiring manager or hiring committee may ask you:
Discuss your educational experiences with us. Very standard question, regardless of role or company- especially if you are, say, less than 30.
Have you worked professionally in a sales engineer role? There are many people who are now trying to get into the SE field and role; this is simply a way of extracting the key truths.
What companies have you previously worked for?
How have you emerged as a leader in your professional experiences? Even if you haven’t been officially a “manager” or “supervisor”, hopefully there is something you can point to.
What type of work environment do you thrive in?
Have you ever engaged in professional training related to sales engineering? Very important, as most/many SE’s never got a degree in “Sales Engineering”, so many do enroll in some kind of professional training course at some level.
Tell us about a project you worked on that required you to collaborate with others. In many cases, at most companies, collaboration is a key tenet of being a sales engineer.
What sales engineering skills do you have and use regularly?
How might you apply these skills in the sales engineer position? Here, and with the question before, you need to show how you process and how you manage a situation and/or a problem.
Share with us how one of your previous experiences helped you learn a new skill. Most good SE’s are always learning. They are not afraid to try something new, either.
In-depth questions are usually important because they provide additional insight into your credentials and allow interviewers to evaluate whether you are a good fit for the position. Some examples of specific in-depth sales engineer questions they might ask include:
How might you highlight the benefits of our company’s product in relation to other market competitors? This is where it is important to DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you sit for the interview. Understand the product/service well, and a bit about its competitors. You have to be able to speak intelligently about it, to some degree.
How do you explain complex industry terms to current or potential customers? Try to share an example here- from your current or previous role.
Who do you believe we target our products and services to? Again, do your homework.
If asked to give a presentation on our products and services, what might you choose to share? One of the most important parts of the interview. Here also it is wise to show some enthusiasm for their product or service.
How many professional experiences have you had as a sales engineer?
What types of sales engineer technologies are you proficient in? Here you might list or talk about industry-specific technologies and software, or potentially more general sales and/or SE software tools- including CRM related programs.
Do you thrive in independent or collaborative work environments? Be careful how you answer this. How do the SE’s at the potential company work?
What information do you need to know about a current or potential customer before presenting a demo? This also is instrumental to your chances- how you answer this. Sales engineering is often about proper discovery. Show that you are able to ask the right questions at the right time.
Where do you find information about sales engineering trends or emerging research? We hope you say- from the North American Association of Sales Engineers…! ?
How might you handle conflict resolution with a customer or colleague? There will ALWAYS be conflict at some point, in the professional setting. How you go about handling it and getting the job done will help determine if you will be successful.
This article is a re-post of a published Indeed web article, with commentary from the NAASE Executive Board.
Drum roll…. and the results are in… At Bright Dynamics we surveyed 103 PreSales leaders from around the world, asking 54 questions around hiring and candidate assessment. Some of the results may surprise you.
Let’s start with how the differing competencies and job components rated.
Which competencies do PreSales leaders rate when they hire?
Which job components do PreSales leaders feel are most important for success in the role?
For PreSales leaders there should be value in benchmarking yourself against the beliefs of 103 peers, for individual contributors the results provide a clear picture as to what hiring managers care most about when they interview, having great stories around the first five job components and making a concerted effort to demonstrate the first five competencies should be time well spent when preparing for interviews.
Hard skills vs soft skills
For individual contributors interviewing for PreSales roles, we believe these finding should be heartening. PreSales hiring managers are generally pretty flexible around any hard skills gaps as long as they can see a high ceiling of potential, which means you can be more confident going into a job interview where you don’t fully meet the job spec. Equally, it shines a light on the importance of making every effort to showcase your soft skills when interviewing.
Here we see a significant reliance on the hiring manager interview and the panel stage, which opens the question, why slow the hiring process down with layers of additional interviews?
Making a case for change.
To summarise additional findings.
Hiring is important: There is significantly different business impact between making a bad hire, good hire and superstar hire. it’s business critical to get hiring right.
The PreSales job market is challenging for employers: 75% of leaders surveyed rated it 7/10 or above to find quality candidates.
Use of gut feel is widespread: 58% of respondents said their own intuition was 8/10 important or more. Hiring manager’s rate their own interview as most effective of all assessment measures.
Limited structure and planning: only 50% of hiring teams kick-off hiring with a fully defined criteria to assess against, only 46% have the matrix developed and shared with the hiring team.
The output of the hiring process is seldom measured: 73% of respondents don’t measure quality of hire.
Based on the findings we laid out our recommendations, which we believe simple to implement and in most cases cost free:
This guest blog was written by John Hodgson.
To learn in more depth, access the full report here: Report
You can also access our series of conversations with top PreSales professionals on hiring and getting hired here: PreSales Hireside Chats
Hello there! As a Talent Development specialist, I understand that looking for work can be a challenging and emotional journey.
This is why I wanted to share practical tips to help. I believe that with the right mindset and tools, anyone can learn to stay resilient and positive throughout this process. Ready?
First and foremost, let’s start with practicing a growth mindset. Instead of dwelling on rejections, can you shift focus to what you can do to improve your situation now?. Make a list. Start simple. Remember that every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. This may be a good time to upskill, retrain, expand on your knowledge. Keeping your goal in mind and keep asking yourself “how can I get there?”.
Another key of staying resilient during a job search is taking care of your mental and physical health.
Back to basics. We all have heard it before: exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. If it sounds like too much to do at once, start simple. One step at the time. Drink one extra glass of water. Stretch in the middle of the day. Walk for 5mins. These new habits will not only help you feel better physically but also boost your mood and mental clarity.
There are many resources available to help you stay motivated during your job search.
Finally, it’s important to stay calm and optimistic throughout the job search process.
Train yourself to observe intrusive thoughts, without giving into them. Then, shift focus on your abilities, skills and what makes you unique. I suggest making a list of past successes, then add more every day. This will help you grow more confident with the evidence you have a lot to offer. Remember, the right opportunity will come along eventually, and until then, keep striving to improve yourself and your skills.
In conclusion, staying resilient and positive during a job search is crucial for success. Find areas of development, cultivate a growth mindset, look after your mental & physical health, network, and focus on your accomplishments to stay grounded. Do this consistently, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the right job for you.
Keep pushing forward, and success will come. You got this!
Thanks to the author of this article Olivia Brito
Tech careers require various technical and soft skills to ensure success. Not only that, you must be willing to keep learning constantly. Technology evolves rapidly, so you must always be on top of your game to stay ahead of the curve. With that in mind, here are some of the most important skills and education required for a successful tech career.
Here are some of the most important technical skills you need to build a successful tech career. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you master these skills, including online courses, tutorials, and bootcamp programs.
Learning these popular technologies is a significant stride in the quest for a successful career in technology. One of the best ways to learn programming languages is through four-year programs at the university. However, that could be a costly option for many, not to mention that it also takes a long time to complete.
For these reasons, we strongly recommend coding bootcamps, such as App Academy, Coding Dojo, or General Assembly. Coding bootcamps are significantly cheaper than universities as they are shorter and most courses are delivered online. Bootcamps also offer more flexible payment options than most universities. Coding Dojo reviews frequently speak highly of the quality of instructors and teaching methods.
A solid understanding of systems and networks is also crucial to achieving a successful career in tech. It would be in your best interest to gain extensive experience with operating systems.
Operating systems like Windows and MacOS play a big role in most people’s day-to-day lives. Knowing how they work and how to troubleshoot issues related to them is critical for anyone looking to enter the tech field.
A good understanding of networks is essential for anyone working in technology. You should know how network systems work and various networking concepts. If you want to specialize in network security or system administration, a strong networking foundation is key.
An increasing number of businesses are moving to the cloud. As a result, demand for cloud computing skills is on the rise. To have a successful tech career, you must learn about cloud computing and gain experience working with cloud-based technologies.
Machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI) that deals with designing and developing algorithms that can learn from data and improve their performance over time. To have a successful tech career, you might want to learn about machine learning and gain experience working with machine learning algorithms.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientist roles, including machine learning engineer, have a very strong job outlook of 22 percent over the next decade. This means you should have plenty of job opportunities if you master the required technical skills.
Many companies and organizations today use databases for storing data; it’s an essential part of many business operations. As such, it’s important for anyone working in tech to have at least a basic understanding of database concepts.
While it is easy to focus on only technical skills, soft skills hold a lot of importance in the tech sector. Here are some of the most important soft skills required for a successful tech career.
Communication is vital in just about all professions, including those in the tech industry. You will often deal with many people on various teams during the course of your work, and communication will be key to ensuring the success of the project.
Not only that, but you might need to explain difficult concepts and problems to stakeholders using clear and concise communication. To have a successful career in technology, you must develop strong communication skills.
Solving problems is one of the most important skills for anyone working in tech. When working in tech, you will often be confronted with difficult problems that require creative and out-of-the-box thinking to ensure project success.
Project management involves the planning, executing, and monitoring a project to achieve specific objectives. It is a critical skill for any individual who wants to be successful in the technology field. Effective project management ensures that project objectives are met while reducing the risk of failure.
Project management skills are important for a successful career in technology because they help to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. Project management skills also help to reduce the risk of project failure by improving communication and collaboration among team members. Individuals who have strong project management skills are more likely to be successful in the technology field.
Various roles in the technology industry require slightly different hard and soft skills. If you are just starting out in your career and aren’t sure which role is right for you yet, getting started with the skills on our list are a great first step.
Special thanks to the author of this article Daisy Wambua
Daisy Wambua is a certified Career Coach by the International Association of Professions Career College, is a seasoned writer with a decade of experience in writing, proofreading, and editing. She has spoken at Maseno University to help young women explore new careers and learn more about technology. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Public Relations, a Certificate in Web Development, and a Master’s Degree in International Studies.
Finding a job that you are passionate about and that has a high level of demand in the labor market can be a complex task. However, the economy’s evolution creates new growth opportunities for new fields. The careers in the most strategic areas of the country will mark the development of this decade.
If you are looking for a position with a high salary and a great job outlook to guarantee your financial and professional stability in the coming years, this article is for you. You will find the data you need to know about revenue, market growth, roles, and more in the information below.
These professionals are essential to strengthen the national health system. Medical managers are the ideal complement to healthcare workers. A medical manager’s role consists of guiding medical procedures and the use of healthcare facilities. In addition, they manage medical information and lead healthcare staff.
Medical managers work in coordination with physicians. Other tasks include: improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare services, developing goals in advancing treatment, and ensuring that medical facilities comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
A sales engineer sells complex technological and scientific products to businesses. They need to have great knowledge of the product’s parts and functions and understand the scientific processes that make these products work. Other duties include collaborating with sales teams to identify customer requirements and provide sales support, giving technical presentations, and devising and modifying products to meet customer needs.
Sales engineers specify in technologically and scientifically advanced products. Some work for the companies that design and build these products, while others work for independent firms.
Governments, companies, and e-commerce platforms need logisticians to ensure the smooth flow of merchandise distribution procedures. The main focus of this job is to manage inventories and distribution infrastructure to offer timely delivery to consumers.
Logisticians also manage the product life cycle. These professionals are in charge of directing the distribution and delivery protocol of the products, complying with all quality standards. Other duties include the placement of materials, supplies, products and developing business relationships with suppliers and clients.
A speech-language pathologist has an important social function. This professional helps with speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children. The consultations and methods from a speech-language pathologist help prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.
Other key tasks include: assessing levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty, identifying treatment options, and creating and implementing an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific functional needs. If you take on this career, you will also teach children and adults how to make sounds, improve their voices, and keep the pace of speech.
A software engineer is a professional in charge of developing, optimizing, and maintaining digital platforms for companies, personal projects, and clients. Due to the technological revolution, these engineers are required to optimize services and systems. According to BLS, the demand for these workers will increase by 22 percent by 2030, creating more than 180,000 new jobs.
A benefit of this industry’s growth is that anyone in this industry will have a high salary, which according to BLS figures, exceeds $110,000. Due to this high demand, many universities and institutes such as coding bootcamps receive thousands of students prepared to take on tech challenges for the next decade.
Above, we’ve mentioned five of the jobs with the most potential growth in the next decade. Studying one of these careers and eventually landing a job in that industry is an excellent opportunity to grow in the professional market. You will gain financial stability, and in addition, you will learn a lot due to the fact that these occupations contribute to the sustainable functioning of society.
Special thanks to the author of this article Elizabeth Mackenzie, For more information, visit there website https://www.globalprassociates.com
All right, stop whatcha doin, ’cause I’m about to ruin. Well, I hope I don’t ruin. When I was first approached to write an article about my career path earlier this year, I thought this would be easy. I’ve been planning on writing for a while, fueled by the extra time provided during the pandemic and what, in my mind, I think are some extraordinary Sales Tales. If the time it took to put together this article is a measuring stick, I should have my first book complete within a decade.
All right, back to the lecture at hand. Career pathing. This should be easy. I’ll talk about how I grew up fascinated by tech, inspired by the times, the rise of video games, and home computing. The thrill of being part of a generation that saw the rise and fall of MTV. How I leveraged curiosity and culture to land my first job at AT&T, where I designed websites in the late 90s and eventually moved over to supporting one of the largest Citrix environments on the planet. How, at a faithful dinner, I met the great Scott Lane, who said, “you ever thought about being an SE”?
Boring, I’d love to make this article a self-reflection and personal success story, but I’ll defer to a future book. I could cover an SE’s traditional or classic career path, which is well documented. I’m too lazy to cite references, but it goes a bit like this.
So, I said self, self, let’s not make this about you, even though the majority to this point is, well, just that. Why not talk to folks? Individuals that found a career as an SE and then, in part of their journey, progressed and endeavored on to something great. That took the core DNA of curiosity, a relentless drive to solve problems, a scoop of personality, and a desire to help those around them. Individuals that found success in areas outside of where they started.
To do this, I solicited conversations with the best in the biz. I spoke with David Byerly, VP & Country Manager at Citrix. He is an incredible sales leader, mentor, and all-around captain of his industry. J.P. Smith, Director, Worldwide Technical Enablement at Citrix, has, for the past 18 years, coordinated and delivered some of the most technical and complex training known to man. Take booking a hotel room, times that by 5000 and must live up to the standards of professional geeks.
Inspired by these two, I continued my journey. I solicited the sage advice of Mike “Q” Quirin, Partner at Alchemy Technology Group, an award-winning partner group and one of the best strategic technology partners in the industry. In a word, inspired. Q deserves a separate series to delve into his incredible memory and ability to challenge your perspective of comfort versus opportunity. And lastly, I talked with Amy Goldstein, currently a Senior SE at Citrix. Amy is at the beginning of her career. A career in which I see no ceiling. I may one day work for her, and I’d love it. Slight disclaimer Amy reports to me: at first, she did not want to be an SE, but man, she’s incredible at what she does. Amy brings a refreshing dose of compassion, plus an intelligence that is second to none.
My goal in these conversations is to pull out common characteristics. To see if I can identify what and why. What led them to become an SE, and why did they choose the following path? Here is what I found in my conversations with all, a few universal truths presented.
No one said, “I want to be an SE when I grow up.” Not a single individual knew what an SE was. Dave came out of college as a D1 athlete at James Madison with a focus on business and aspirations to follow that path and pursue an MBA. JP started as a consultant building complex environments, participating in a baptism by fire, and learning technology on the fly. Q came out of The Baylor Hankamer School of Business, started as a consultant, and heard about the “best-kept secret” industries. Amy obtained a master’s degree from the Colorado School of Mines and left school looking for a “company that cared.” What led each of them to be an SE to start was an opportunity presented, and they took it. To quote Q, “opportunity is all around you.”
Curiosity and problem solving created the SE and, ultimately, the next role. I circled “curious” in every conversation. Dave, JP, and Q all had another element that drove curiosity. The impending collapse of society and Y2K. I’m half joking. There was a real opportunity for those curious to develop a foundation. Dave alluded to “why should I care” and “I can solve this challenge.” Dave began helping customers discover the infancy of digital transformation. A term that would eventually be the title of over 100 thousand professionals on LinkedIn. Disclaimer, I thought I was exaggerating here; according to LinkedIn, I see the 820K+ decision-makers from your search for “digital transformation.” Dave was on the cutting edge of technology. JP helped guide hospitals to certify systems would survive the clock striking midnight by implementing test validations and introducing new technology, thin clients. Q was on the beginning wave of cloud computing. He was working with terminal services in the early 2000s.
Amy may have missed Y2K, but something stood out. Amy capitalized on curiosity to take technology and “define success for customers.” What I love as I recapped curiosity is the relevance then and now. To borrow a quote from Q, “what’s old is new,” I researched this quote; I know Q rephrased it. I like Stephen King’s “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” We still have digital transformations, consumer to enterprise device considerations, and cloud computing has been evolving to the point of inflection for decades. If you are curious, you can solve problems, and companies love a good solution to their problems.
Social butterflies with a touch of muscle memory. It doesn’t take long in a conversation with any of these individuals to see a level of thoughtfulness, charisma, and genuineness; I want to hang out with these folks’ness (I know not a word, but hopefully, you know what I mean). Dave can captivate a room while making you feel like the center of attention. JP, for god’s sake, has the job of coordinating content for an entire organization. You have to have some serious social chops to herd many cats. Q holds court with the best of them, drawing on look-back moments and a memory that is second to none. And my favorite from Amy is “I’m not the most technical, but I am a pretty technical social person” Social when it counts? I was asked once, “what charges you.” I think of myself as an introvert. My wife would disagree. What I’m getting at is that each person I spoke with strikes me as the same. Each can flex a social muscle, but you can tell by their empathy and abilities to grasp and articulate that considerable time is spent reflecting.
Teamwork makes the dream work. I’m getting long-winded for a blog. With that, I’ll pull one more universal truth. You take the curiosity, take the problem, take the social, take the team, and then you have the facts of life. These professionals take their work, yearning to solve and help, and couple this with compassionate teamwork, whether it’s Dave leading a sales team or coaching and mentoring the next sales generation. JP combining and coordinating training and enablement to help raise the tide for all ships. Or Q, building relationships and a partner company focused on developing extraordinary trust-based relationships with customers and creating transformative business outcomes (I stole his company motto). Or Amy, whom I recently had dinner with, and a potential opportunity. A dinner where she said, “I just really want the customer to be successful.” To quote Tenacious D – “that’s teamwork.”
Final, final. As I reflect on my career and the conversations with Dave, JP, Q, and Amy, I see no clear path. You can focus on a to b to c., or you can hone and develop the characteristics and skills that you will leverage regardless of your profession, aspirations, and goals to succeed. Curiosity, problem-solving, genuine conversation, cooperation, and a shared vision to combine success with everyone around you. There is no box; there is no path. There is, however, a path, a way that applies to any career or pursuit. Stay curious, stay engaged, think of others, and stay thirsty, my friends. Jesus, that was cheesy.
Special thanks to the author of this article Blake Chandler.
Written by the Vivun team
PreSales Compensation Plans 101
Getting PreSales compensation right is mission-critical to building revenue-generating teams that are incentivized to win for the company and themselves.
With little to no public information, we seek to uncloak the mystery around PreSales compensation and empower leaders to create effective plans that help hire and retain top talent. In the 2021 Benchmark Report: The State of PreSales Compensation Edition, 40% of PreSales leaders didn’t think their compensation plans were effective and 69% didn’t fully own their compensation plans.
That’s why we created the PreSales Compensation Calculator for Emerging Teams & The Complete Guide to PreSales Compensation—all built and written with the expertise of our VP of PreSales, Brett Crane, who will also be leading a webinar on how to design a comp model that drives results on June 29.
In this blog, I’ll review the drivers—quotas, on-target earnings, support models, commissions—that impact a PreSales compensation strategy and the salary of Sales Engineers, and how they can be put together to create effective plans for PreSales teams at startups to Enterprises. If you already have plans you can take away insights and ideas on how to improve existing ones.
1. PreSales Compensation Plan: Quota
As the target bookings of an individual or group, quotas are fundamental to the leadership team strategically planning hiring and forecast growth. From a PreSales perspective, the following are often the most important elements of quota:
Metric is used for defining quota and attainment results. As companies transition to recurring revenue, metrics such as “Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)”, “Annual Contract Value (ACV)”,
and “Total Contract Value (TCV)” become the dominant metrics for measuring quota. In a B2B sale where PreSales is most commonly involved, ACV—the annual recurring value of a contract of at least 12 months in length—is the most commonly used metric.
Support models indicate how opportunities are assigned to PreSales individuals and/or teams. PreSales teams may leverage a variety of support models which will impact PreSales quota based on the number of Account Executives (AEs) being supported and the projected hiring across regions.
Period defines if the quota is established on a quarterly or annual basis. This forms the foundation for total payout to the individual. Quarterly periods are highly effective for businesses with higher volume segments or businesses that have less predictability in their business model. Annual periods are more appropriate for businesses who sell large deals to Enterprise segments where the deal cycle times are long.
2. Compensation Plan: On-Target Earnings
On Target Earnings (OTE) refers to the total payout an individual can expect when 100% of quota is achieved. Depending on the company and PreSales team, there will always be a base salary but the mix of variable commission and bonuses may vary.
OTE for PreSales individuals is based on the following formula:
OTE = Base Salary + Variable Commission at 100% Quota Attainment + Bonuses (Management by Objectives – MBOs)
It is important to determine the split between base and variable to create an effective PreSales plan. For example, Sales is typically split 50/50. Yet, PreSales has a variable portion to their plan but with a lower percentage of their overall OTE tied to closed deals when compared to sales. The most common base/variable split for PreSales individuals is 70/30.
3. PreSales Compensation Plan: Support Models
PreSales is a sales support function which adds complexity as a variety of different support models may be utilized. These models are examples of how to set the quota and focus for the PreSales individual to make it clear for them what to focus on and how they will get paid.
Pooled by Geography
PreSales resources focus on a geography, EMEA for example. Opportunities are worked on by individuals within the pool, but the individual PreSales quotas will be aligned to the overall success of the geography. The benefits of this model include incredible flexibility for PreSales leadership to manage workloads across the team while creating a culture of shared success and team comradery.
Pooled by Segment
Similar to above, PreSales resources may be focused but are further aligned by segment, for example, Enterprise West (US) vs. Healthcare and Life Sciences. A “segment” may be a focus on companies of a specific size or industry/vertical. Opportunities are worked on by individuals within the pool who support the particular segment. For businesses who require different PreSales skill sets across segments, this model may make the most sense. Downsides include onboarding and long ramp times.
In this model, PreSales individuals are directly aligned to AEs, so that they become comfortable working together deal after deal and can achieve more consistent results. The working relationship (personality clashes) and win rates (success) of these pairs are important to monitor. Most often seen in Strategic segments, this support model is expensive and resource-heavy but may make the most sense for companies that focus predominantly on large deals.
Some PreSales teams have a model where they pay their PreSales professionals a commission on the deals that they individually work on as the primary PreSales resource. Often this is referred to as their “revenue influence”.
There are often multiple pools in which a single PreSales individual might have a
plan so that their variable commission may be split into 50%, where they get paid
on the deals they individually work on that close (individual model), and then 50%
of their commission is tied to their other pool, for example, geographical. Therefore, PreSales individuals are both incentivized to win a plethora of deals they are the primary PreSales individual working on but also want to help their teammates in their geography to close their deals because that is tied and important to the Sales Engineer’s pay.
4. PreSales Compensation Plan: Commissions
As described above, PreSales teams leverage a variable component to their compensation plan. The following represent common strategies for selecting the appropriate commission structure for the variable compensation component.
Continuous vs. Step vs. Hybrid
In a continuous model, the PreSales individual will earn commission continuously. In a step model, commissions are only paid out when certain targets are achieved. In a hybrid model, there may be an initial target that must be cleared prior to commission payout at which point commissions are then earned continuously.
Flat vs. Accelerators
In a flat model, commissions are paid at the same rate regardless of quota attainment. An example would be a PreSales individual getting 1% commission on every deal. In an accelerator model, the commission payout may vary as certain targets are achieved. While the PreSales individual may earn 1% for all deals up to 100% quota attainment, they may then start to earn 2% for all bookings above their quota.
Uncapped vs. Capped
In an uncapped model, the PreSales individual will continue earning commissions regardless of quota attainment. In a capped model, commission payout will cease for any achievement over a certain quota attainment (175% for example).
Putting it all together
By considering all the drivers that make up a PreSales compensation, you can combine these concepts to create compelling compensation plans that meet your specific needs. Compensation plans should strive to ensure that PreSales teams have variable compensation tied directly to the work PreSales individuals are doing to make their focus clear.
With a strong foundation of the drivers of PreSales compensation plans, leaders of emerging teams (best for ~10 or fewer PreSales professionals) can build the perfect single commission plan in just a few clicks with our PreSales Compensation Calculator for Emerging Teams!
If you lead a larger team check out the Guidebook—The Complete Guide to PreSales Compensation—to dive deeper into the drivers above and to potentially help overhaul current processes or validate the ones in place.
PreSales compensation plans should be geared toward motivating Sales Engineers to work at their peak performance and improving morale as well as for leaders to support their team and the company’s overall business strategy.
Published by the team at Vivun, a sponsor of NAASE
We’ve talked a lot about the rapid growth in PreSales, and even recently released a Benchmark report discussing that growth. We see 6% in growth across the entire profession, with over 120,000 job openings currently posted.
But the question remains – why? Is it because companies are growing, and when they’re growing, they just need more people to do a bunch of demos?
Demos are great, but they don’t drive the strategic growth of an entire profession the way we’re seeing in PreSales. Vivun believes there’s a fundamental shift in how prospects are researching, evaluating, and buying technology, causing massive reverberations in B2B buying. We call it the Rise of the Sales-Proof Buyer.
“People buy from people,” that hoary old axiom goes. But that’s not really true any longer. It may have been true five years ago: prospects used to place their faith in the salesperson, hoping that a great relationship would bring them to their desired outcome. They’d play golf and go to baseball suites and engage in long, chatty phone calls. But the problem is, once the sale was finished, in many cases the solution didn’t perform. It didn’t deliver value.
Buyers have been burned. And they won’t let it happen again.
The new breed of buyer demands a “sure thing.” They want value at every step, total transparency from the vendor, and the ability to run the sales process their way – as opposed to being held at arm’s length from a product and unable to discover if its capabilities meet their requirements.
They’re tired of being held hostage to a MEDDIC stage, and they’re tired of having to wade through three meetings (including the qualifying call by a sales development rep) just to see the product.
The Rise of the Sales-Proof Buyer explains why Gartner’s Future of Sales Research shows that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels – because 33% of buyers desire a seller-free experience. They want to research the product on their own, figure out whether it meets their needs, and then they want to spend as little time with the salesperson as possible in order to complete the transaction.
What does all of this have to do with PreSales?
Think about what the Sales-Proof Buyer really wants: value, transparency, and the ability to know for certain that a particular solution aligns to the right use cases. Salespeople can’t deliver any of this, and at the same time, even the most self-directed Buyer can’t figure all of this out on their own.
Buyers need PreSales – more than ever.
It’s PreSales who knows the solution cold, including use cases by the dozens. Buyers immediately relax when they’re talking to PreSales, as opposed to talking to an Account Exec, because they know they can get their questions answered – by someone who knows the product inside and out, as opposed to someone who is simply trying to close a sale.
Product-Led Growth is no exception; in fact, PLG is driving the twin vectors of the Sales-Proof Buyer and the rapid hiring of PreSales at exactly the same time. PLG is fantastic for the Sales-Proof Buyer because they get to put their hands on the product immediately, experiment with their unique use cases, and see the value without having to talk to a single human being.
But once they’re well inside the buying cycle, they will have questions: what about this feature? And that one? And this particular use case? They need a solution expert in order to help them cross the chasm from product experimentation to closed sale, and PreSales is the only team able to build that bridge.
How important is this?
An argument can be made that the fastest-growing software companies on the planet – organizations such as Snowflake, Zoom, and HashiCorp – are experiencing that growth because they’ve embraced the new way of connecting with buyers. They’ve realized that the go-to-market methods of years ago no longer work against a buyer who has their force fields raised, and who demands instant value.
The companies who have hired and trained the right team of PreSales people are going to reap the benefits: everything from product field alignment (since PreSales are the link between what the buyer wants and what the product team thinks they should build), to solution expertise, to overall trust and transparency.
In short, investing in PreSales is the way companies are going to prevail in the B2B landscape of 2022. The rest? They can record all the sales calls they want and send a tsunami of sequenced emails, but that’s not going to win over the buyer who is 50% down the purchasing path before they even enter into the sales cycle.
The key to winning over the Sales-Proof Buyer and building a true competitive moat is PreSales.
While the known brands in your category take the lazy route and rely on their name recognition, you can do things that actually impact your audience.
If you’re a high-growth startup competing with big brands for sales talent, you have to think differently about how you market yourself to highly skilled candidates.
Here’s an easy influencer play that will allow you to tap into targeted candidate groups while building your brand credibility:
Have your Head of Sales host a series (podcast, webinar, whatever) where they interview the top SMEs in their space and jam on industry trends and topical issues.
Important: DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR COMPANY. This is about building brand through association and contribution to your industry. Detach from outcomes and you will see results.
Bottom line: Associating your company with influencers has the potential to take your startup from being largely unknown to being one of the most credible shops in your category.
Accept the fact that a) most startups more or less sound the same to the outside world, and b) it’s likely that nobody knows who in the hell you are.
If you don’t have brand cred in your space, you need to build it. This is one of the fastest ways.
The process is simple:
Side note: Most influencers already have their own podcasts. And most cross-post interviews that they’re on. They have a larger audience than you. This is a major win.
None of this is rocket science. And it’s certainly not a new idea.
The execution is easy. The hard part is making this a priority.
There’s so much talk about building your employer brand. And most ideas are overly complicated, time-consuming, and ineffective.
This is the opposite. This is leveraging what already exists—with little to no budget.
BTW, you can replicate this model across marketing, engineering, and any other high-priority functions.
The 2.0 version: Turn your Head of Sales into an industry thought leader.
Function leaders as SMEs are recruiting gold. Do this well and your Sales leader will become your inbound recruiting engine.
While the known brands in your category take the lazy route and rely on their name recognition, you can do things that actually impact your audience.
Marketers — Stop the eye-rolling. I know you’ve been doing this kind of stuff for a while now. But as far as talent marketing goes, this is uncharted territory.
Special thanks to Nate Guggia for writing this article.
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HR Directors and Sales Managers are realizing a few tough facts right about now: Many companies are now beginning or expanding their sales engineering/ presales positions- but there just are not that many around or available. This of course leads to a market where- in general- it is a prospect/employee’s advantage.
How do we know that this is the case? A couple anecdotes combined with a crude math formula/ ratio. NAASE understands that there are of course many SE’s out there that maybe have been seeking employment for 6+ months, and there are always circumstances and outliers in various industries. However, using a broad brush here, it does seems that hiring a SE is quite a bit harder right now than many other professions.
For anecdotes, we provide the following:
Many articles and stories have been written over the past year or two about the importance of the sales engineer and them being a needed, yet unsung hero, of a winning revenue team in most B2B endeavors. Some of said articles may be self-serving, but overall these stories from various business and sales writers and enterprises is hard to ignore.
Another factor is that if and while purchasing decisions and teams are getting more complicated and more analytical, and with the B2B sales cycle taking longer, it would make sense that the sales team needs more qualified and technical support and assistance in winning the deal. Hence more sales engineers are finding there way into firms and departments where there were none several years ago.
But, now to the math and analysis…. a quick 25 minute review brought about the following revelation.
I reviewed how many positions actually exist in the USA, vs. looking at how many open job listings there are for said position/title. The first portion I researched thru the US DOL BLS, and the job listings were found on LinkedIn.
As an example, there are about 67,000 sales engineers that exist in the US. And, per LinkedIn, there are 51,127 job listings. Some of those listings might be repeats- I am not sure. Thus, I don’t really know if there are 51k job listings or 51k actual job openings; the two may not be identical. But regardless of that, figuring out this “professionals/openings ratio” can be used to compare different job titles. To help contextualize, for graphic designers there are 261,600 such people that exist in the country, with currently only 12,600 job listings.
I compared the ratios of sales engineers to that of: computer programmer, dentist, graphic designer, electrical engineer, and architect.
I averaged those 5 positions to come up with a ratio of “non SE”. Then I compared that to the SE job listing ratio.
The amount of job openings for sales engineers is over 9 TIMES that of the other job titles.
Said another way, I compared the SE ratio to that of the #2 job title in my analysis, and still- SE’s had roughly 4X the number of job openings that the #2 job title had (relatively speaking).
What does all this mean? Possibly nothing, and we don’t mean to say that it is “easy” to land a great SE position in the current economy. However, in looking at the data, and also at some broad anecdotes, being a sales engineer in 2021 puts you into a pretty solid position in a potential job search. It likely is much more difficult in many other professions.
This article was written by NAASE President Ken Lambert.