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/

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

Incorporating AI Into Your Business Operations: Best Practices for Sales Engineers

As a sales engineer, you know how vital it is to stay on top of the latest technological advancements. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising developments in decades.

Incorporating it into your business operations can help you streamline tasks, save time, and boost your bottom line.

That said, it’s essential to approach AI adoption carefully and thoughtfully. NAASE discusses some tried-and-true practices for incorporating AI into your operations as a sales engineer:

How Can AI Help Your Business?

It’s crucial to understand how AI can help your company before you begin integrating it into your business operations. AI can take over repetitive tasks, such as data entry, and free up your time to focus on higher-level tasks like customer relationships. It can also help you make smarter decisions by analyzing large sets of data and spotting patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s no longer a luxury to leverage an automation and AI platform to streamline workflows and boost operational efficiency — it’s a necessity. Look for a platform that offers data integration, analytics, reporting capabilities, and other advantageous features. Consider this option to harness the power of AI and automate repetitive tasks, reduce human error, and equip your team to focus on high-value activities!

Using advanced algorithms and machine learning will help you intelligently analyze data from various sources and gain actionable insights that drive informed decision-making. Plus, robust reporting capabilities will empower your team to monitor key performance indicators in real-time, ultimately helping you stay ahead of the competition.

Determine Your Goals for AI

Before diving into AI adoption, you’ll also want to take some time to establish your goals for this technology. What specific tasks do you want AI to take over? How do you want it to improve your business operations? By setting goals and defining success metrics, you’ll position your team to accurately measure the value of AI to your business.

Experimenting With AI

AI is a relatively new technology, and it’s evolving at a breakneck pace. Therefore, it’s critical to experiment with it to learn its abilities and limitations. Start small by testing AI on low-impact tasks like data entry. That way, you can learn how it works and how to apply it to your sales engineering efforts.

Learning How AI Fits Into Your Internal Operations

Once you’ve experimented a bit, consider how AI aligns with your internal operations. Identify the areas in your sales engineering process where AI could prove most beneficial. This will help you ensure that every department in your company knows how to incorporate the technology most effectively.

Integrating and Testing AI Technology

Now that you know where AI can be the most beneficial, you’ll want to integrate it into your internal operations. Just be sure to test AI technology thoroughly before rolling it out across your entire organization. Analyze your results, and fine-tune your AI algorithms to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Wrapping Up

incorporating AI into your business operations as a sales engineer can put your company at a significant advantage. Taking a thoughtful, experimental approach to this rapidly-evolving technology will give you the necessary space to learn how to leverage it to its full potential.

As with any new technology, you must establish specific goals, experiment carefully, and test your AI tools thoroughly to position your team for the best outcomes. Keep the best practices above in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to using AI so that it boosts your sales engineering efforts and bottom line!

Would you like to read more helpful content or learn about our sales engineers association? Visit Sales-Engineering.org today!

Thanks to the author of this article Vivek Mukherjee

3 Final Tips for Aspiring Sales Engineers 

Over the past week, NAASE has released 2 key tips for new/ aspiring SE’s.  One was regarding POC’s, and the other was essentially to fully understand and critique technical marketing literature.

To complete our exercise of offering 5 critical tips for new sales engineers, we offer the following:

  • Always Be Learning-  Keep up-to-date on the latest industry trends and updates, even if the specific information is not directly related to your product or service.
  • Be well-prepared for any meeting with a client or prospect; many potential deals have been lost because of a SE or an Account Executive being poorly informed stepping into a meeting.  Do your homework/ due diligence.
  • Be willing to admit at times that maybe your product/solutions is not the best fit for a prospect.  Be careful on how you approach this, and discuss this directly with the Account Executive prior to anyone stating anything of this sort to the client/ prospect.

There are many tips for successful sales engineers, but NAASE feels that limiting it to 5 is a good starting point for new or potential SE’s.

We wish you good luck in your new endeavors!

Written by NAASE Executive Staff

Aspiring SE Tip #2:   Prudent Steps for your Proof of Concept

Quality POC’s are purposeful and lead to the Technical Win.

The following are critical elements of a successful Proof of Concept:

Current State: Describe the current situation that is driving the need for PoC. This should come directly from the customer through Discovery.

Desired State: Describing the agreed up future state of where the customer expects to be within their project timeframe.

Customer Business Initiatives: What are the customer’s business objectives of the PoC, and how will the POC tie back to these.

Proof of Concept Objectives: What are the PoC objectives. Top 3-5 solution workflows we would prove out in the PoC — not features list. 

Success Criteria: What will make the PoC successful, why and impact to customer. What does success look like for the customer.  This is critical to be able to get to a successful “Technical Closure”.

Scope: Document what should/needs to be ready before we start the POC engagement and call out what will be provided based off the agreed effort.  Get agreement from the customer before these kicks off.

Roles and Responsibilities: Define who will own each part of the POC, including when folks from the customer side are needed to move pieces forward.

PoC Deliverables: Any data results, documentation, demo, or presentation delivered from the PoC effort.  With hhigh-level timelines of the key milestones.

PoC Closure: Define upfront how you will bring the PoC to a close (technical meetings, executive close meeting, end of PoC meeting)

Advice for a Successful Sales Engineering Career

Since the launch of NAASE about 2 ½ years ago, we have published several articles and interviews about what is important for a Sales Engineer.  These were all guest writers and speakers, many being experts and authors in the industry.

Today I wanted to offer a similar but more personal take on this subject.  I want to share what I believe are the most key elements of a quality sales engineer.  This is from my own experience.  I had been a SE for several years, and currently hold a role titled Director of Industry Development & Technical Services

Without further ado, these are what I believe 90% of top-notch SE’s have in common:

  • Honesty:  There is the old stereotype of the salesperson that lies and will say ANYTHING to get the sale (and get a commission).  Today’s B2B sales and also the sales engineer should be a 180 degree turnaround from that image.  Tell the truth- even if it may harm the potential of a sale for you that day.  SE’s are respected (widely) for giving accurate and relatively (?) unbiased information to their clients and prospects.  If that erodes, then the SE position is fairly useless.
  • Analyze and question your own product (or service, software, etc) in the same way your prospects would.
  • Don’t assume, and don’t trust anything (within reason):  I like the old adage, “Trust- but verify”.  This includes even collateral and other items that are given to you by your company.  Sometimes there are outright mistakes that are marketed or transmitted.  If you are in front of a client or prospect, it is YOUR reputation also on the line – not just the firm.
  • Know the details, specifications, and benefits of your competitor’s product or service BETTER than your client or prospect does.  There is nothing worse than being blindsided when at a sales/business meeting by a prospect who brings up and touts some “unicorn” that you’ve never heard of- and you have no response for.  In this light, always be CURIOUS about your market.
  • Swift and direct communication is critical.  We all know this, but it bears repeating:  Clients and prospects expect your response to their question or inquiry immediately.  If you do not respond the same business day, you are in trouble.  Respond even if your initial response doesn’t fully answer their technical question.
  • Follow up and DO WHAT YOU SAY:  This is opposite that other old stereotype- that salespeople will say anything upfront to get a sale, but afterwards don’t follow up and don’t actually help the client.  This is where SE’s need to integrate themselves with the business issues of their clients.

There are of course a few other instrumental points to being a good sales engineer or technical salesperson.  However, these listed have always done well by me, and I thought were worth noting directly.

This article was written by NAASE Vice President, Ken Lambert.

Founder’s Message:  How Will the Sales Engineer Market Progress in 2023?


Summertime in business can be a little bit quieter than normal, and the same has been true recently for NAASE.  That said, we shortly will be announcing much of our Autumn (and Winter) event schedule.  We also will be sharing some key information on how the NAASE membership is actually made up- and which sectors are represented in the Association.

As I sit writing this update, I do wonder how the market for SE’s in general (in the USA) will develop over the remainder of 2022 and into the new year.  There are certainly some conflicting dynamics.

I’m not an economist, so these are just my personal observations and opinions.

Overall, there is no question that there are more SE’s today than there were 10 years ago.  Or 5 years ago.  Interest and use of SE’s has been trending up for some time.   More companies are expanding their SE departments, and many other companies who never employed an SE or a Presales Consultant have now hired their first one.  And this is true across many different sectors.  More C-suites see the real and clear value of the SE to their bottom line and their revenue success.

All that said, we may be nearing some sort of temporary ceiling on new SE hires- or at least on SE compensation increases.   We do hope that SE layoffs are kept to a minimum, if applicable.   SE’s are not exempt from the concerns of the broader economy, and we all can see that many companies and sectors are having some trouble here in August 2022.  Year-to-date, the NASDAQ is down 21%, and the S&P 500 is down 14%.  Companies are having to make some tough choices, and they are looking at headcount and compensation.  And let’s face it, sales engineers are not “cheap”, with an average salary of approximately $120,000.  They are generally allocated to overhead as opposed to an Account Executive/ Account Manager whose pay is often directly tied to sales/receivables.  Thus, CFO’s are looking at their SE numbers.

Though we are seeing continued high inflation, and a rather stagnant economy, we do hope and expect that the trends that were well evident from 2018- 2021 in the sales engineering space will still continue onward and upwards in due time.  Corporations now more than ever are looking to become more efficient, to innovate, and to partner with their clients and their prospects.  Sales engineers are uniquely qualified to help accomplish all of those goals.

Best of luck for the remainder of the summer, and as we look to Q4 in the near future!

Regards,

Ken Lambert

Vice President/ Founder – NAASE

Key Insights on the “Trusted Advisor” Sales Engineer

Recently NAASE hosted a Members-Only ZOOM Forum with noted SE speaker and consultant, John Care. (For members who might have missed it, please request our recording of the call.) There was some great information and advice packed into this 1 hour presentation and meeting, and we thank John for that.

John and his company, Mastering Technical Sales, have conducted some great research into the true value of sales engineers, and also what specifically a client or prospect wants out of their vendor or trusted advisor.

In their list of what customers really want, they provide a ranking of the survey results. #1 is “someone who understands my business”. Having deep technical knowledge is way down at #5.

And what kind of value does a sales engineer bring to the table? This graph says it all:

As you can see by this chart from MTS- the “Technical Team” (which includes the sales engineer, presales, and the technical salesperson) provides the most value to the client/prospect. In fact, they would much rather interact with you than with your company’s CEO or COO, etc.

Know your worth, and also know that right now it is a fairly “hot” market for SE’s out there in the USA that might be looking for a switch. We talked about that a bit also, on our ZOOM call.

For more information on MTS, please visit: https://www.masteringtechnicalsales.com/ .

4 Time-Saving Tech Tools Sales Pros Love

It’s no secret that time is money when it comes to sales. Every extra minute spent on the phone or grabbing lunch with a potential customer adds to your bottom line so it’s crucial to maximize those efforts.

Unfortunately, sales comes with a mountain of busy work that has to be accomplished to make money. Things like checking and responding to emails, drafting proposals, nurturing your pipeline, and scheduling appointments can quickly eat up hours a day, but the good news is, they don’t have to!

We’ve got four tools that could save you hours of time each week and get you back to the things you enjoy doing – like selling!

Shortwave

Setting aside time to triage your inbox is arguably one of the most hated but important tasks for any sales professional. If you don’t do it regularly, important deals, documents, and updates are lost, but staying on top of your inbox requires time that most sales pros just don’t have.

Shortwave is an email client that integrates directly with Gmail, making sign-up a breeze. You’ll never drop the ball again with Shortwave’s three simple triage actions that help you manage every email in your inbox.  Decide if the email is important and pin it to the top of your inbox to take quick action on, snooze the email to show back up at a specific day/time when you will be able to handle the issue, or mark the email as done, removing it from your inbox so you can focus on the tasks at hand.

Shortwave also offers a handful of other features to streamline your email workflow. Control who triggers push notifications so you can prioritize important correspondences, see when teammates or co-workers are online for quick responses, and enjoy automatic organization with bundles and categories like calendar invites and promos that make your inbox easier to understand at a glance. Bonus: the ability to drag & drop and reorder emails lets you turn your inbox into the to-do list it actually is.

Shortwave is offering 3 months of their standard plan (usually $9 per month) totally free to NAASE members by using promo code NAASE.

Postal.io

Even in 2022, the power of physically marketing to potential customers like sending some swag or direct mail is more effective than ever—but who has time to order, package, and send off items as they are needed?

Stay on top of your offline marketing by using Postal.io. With plans starting at just $19 a month, you can take advantage of this platform to send out one-off gifts to customers or upload an entire list for a mailer marketing campaign. The platform is easy to use and doesn’t require a long setup process to get started.

Qwilr

Customers expect a certain level of professionalism when it comes to proposals and contracts, so the document you created in Microsoft Word in 2001 just won’t cut it anymore. Something more custom often takes time that you just don’t have – Qwilr can fix that!

Qwilr creates beautiful templated proposals, contracts, one-pagers, and more, so all you have to do is enter in basic specifications for a particular deal, and out pops beautiful materials you will be proud to share. Qwilr also offers an Enterprise level, allowing the entire sales team to have access to the same templates for uniformity across the entire team.

Calendly

A sales professional’s calendar is one of the most essential parts of their business. Without those meetings, you won’t have customers, and without those customers…well you get the picture.


Calendly easily integrates with your calendar, allowing customers and co-workers to select times that you set as available. Create custom events with buffers in between every call to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare, set custom times for those calls, and automatically generate links to your preferred communication tool like Zoom or Google Meet.

Gone are the days of email threads going back and forth to find a time that works for both participants. Calendly streamlines the entire process!

For more information about this article you can visit shortwave

Focusing on Outcomes over Effort in Presales

An article from our sponsors Vivun

On Wednesday, Vivun VP of PreSales Brett Crane sat down with Oliver Oursin, Elastic’s EMEA Head of Solutions Architecture, for a conversation on delivering powerful outcomes as a data-driven PreSales leader. This blog post sums up some of Brett and Oliver’s thoughts on why an outcomes-based approach to PreSales management is so critical for success.

You get a sense of which results matter most and how to achieve them

Most PreSales leaders have the experience and intuition to understand generally what problems their team is facing, but having the data to back those claims up significantly raises the strategic profile of the team.

However, the first place people tend to look is at how much time the PreSales team is spending on activities rather than what outcomes are being achieved. Gathering data on the latter is much more powerful because it lets you determine whether or not the team is doing the right things.

Ask questions like:

Each of the answers to those questions reveals whether the thing being done (i.e. POCs, solution design, post-sales handoffs) has a significant and positive impact on your team’s success.

Time is ultimately a secondary measure here. Understanding that the PreSales team spent X number of hours attached to deals or doing POCs is helpful for gauging the level of effort required to perform certain work, but doesn’t necessarily indicate whether it’s making a difference.

If you want to secure the technical win in a deal, mapping out a sample of the various outcomes and activities required to get there might look something like this:

Outcomes and deliverables describe results, and how impactful they might be. Activities show how much effort is required to get there.

You’re able to think outside of the box of your existing systems

“The most damaging phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way!'”

—Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

It’s something that happens all the time when trying to sell to prospects. Many potential customers simply do nothing about the pain that they’re facing or resort to workarounds, convinced that there isn’t any better option.

Brett and Oliver both stressed that you shouldn’t take what you do today and try to make it better by simply putting it into a new system or platform. If a new technology solution is being implemented, you can use the rollout as an opportunity to introduce and scale process changes  based on the ideal end state.

It’s easier to secure buy-in and resources when you focus on outcomes 

Everyone knows that a solid business case helps secure the budget needed to get deals done. Describing what your team needs in purely technological terms isn’t a good way to convince people that what you want is valuable.

As Oliver explained, it was absolutely critical that conversations with Elastic’s leadership (in Product and Customer Success) about the value of a PreSales platform centered around the outcomes for each of them:

  • Sales wished to identify how the go-to-market team could sell more successfully across various regions, segments, and business areas.
  • Product was keen to better understand the commercial impact of requested product enhancements and how to prioritize them. 
  • Customer Success wanted a more comprehensive look at what the Solutions Architecture team worked on with customers during evaluations, so as to successfully build upon those efforts.

Showing the kinds of answers that they could get resulted in broader agreement that a PreSales platform was a great thing for the company to have. Focusing on the outcomes other departments can expect from your team helps build consensus across the organization.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how Elastic’s PreSales team uses Hero by Vivun® to create transformational outcomes across multiple departments, read the full story here.

Eliminating SE Leadership?

“Never Again”

This summary article written with permission of an MTS client. We altered a few peripheral facts to preserve anonymity, but
otherwise “it is what it is”. This is also likely to be somewhat controversial, and MTS was certainly involved in the postmortem fact gathering. Those facts are why my client decided it was worth publishing – to save other SE executives the pain
and heartache that his organization suffered. As they say in the US, “your personal mileage may vary.”

During early 2017, an external Management Consulting organization was tasked with
reviewing and optimizing the sales and presales operations of the European – Middle
East – Africa (EMEA) Region. This resulted in many excellent tactical and operational
recommendations and two key organizational structural recommendations that greatly
affected the presales team.

Specifically:

  1. Increase the average span-of-control of sales leaders
  2. Eliminate the local and regional SE leadership

This led to the consolidation of personnel under the auspices of either country
managers (for larger markets) or Regional Sales VPs for smaller cross-country markets
(such as the Nordics). The primary drivers of this reorganization were financial and
industry best practices. As noted later, neither proved to be the case. The modified
organization lasted for 15 months and was then reorganized back to something that
resembled the previous structure.

2. Financial Benefits:

Twelve SE Manager (SEM) positions were released. Two SEMs gained positions within Product Management, Three filled open headcount as Senior Architects / Subject Matter Experts, Two became Country Managers and Five left the company. The top EMEA SE leader joined a major competitor, as did three of the other SEMs. Assuming full credit for the twelve positions and that existing open headcount was filled, the gross fully burdened savings amounted to €4,000,000.

2. Best Practices:

In researching best practices of other large technical presales teams, both inside and
outside of our immediate market, we were unable to find any organizations that
conformed to the consultant’s recommendations. The list of references we spoke with
was lengthy, including companies with SE teams sized from 40 to over 400 individuals.

THE NEGATIVES:


1. We estimate the entire reorganization effort cost us 12% of revenue growth and a 32%
reduction in viable pipeline.


2. SE Turnover increased from single digits to almost 25%. That included 8 identified high
potential SE performers.


3. #1 reason cited in exit interviews was “no prospects of career progression/promotion”


4. #2 reason cited in exit interviews was “sales manager had no understanding of the position or requirements.”


5. The loss of the SE VP and three hi-po’s to one of our prime competitors cost at least 4
transactions of > €100,000 monthly recurring revenue.


6. Country managers were unwilling to release their technical resources to help other
regions. Resulting in multiple deals slipping from each quarter and a definite, but not
fully quantifiable decrease in win rate. Most notably in heavy Proof Of Concept deals.


7. After expressing initial support for the change, account executives noted they were
unable to get the right people at the right time due to country/region resource
allocation.


8. Product training time for SE’s decreased from 5 days/quarter to 2.7 days/quarter due to
sales being unwilling to release time for such training. Caused a 0.8 decrease (on a 0-10
scale) in technical readiness over 12 months.


9. Partner satisfaction decreased by 17 NPS points due to reduction in enablement,
support and general technical sales coaching. (Partner SE’s were reassigned to direct
transactions)

ANONYMIZED SUMMARY:

HIGH LEVEL POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF ELIMINATING THE SE LEADERSHIP POSITIONS AND HAVING FIELD SE’s REPORT DIRECTLY TO SALES MANAGERS/COUNTRY MANAGERS (EMEA ONLY)

In the words of our client. “Please tell others about this. It should never happen again. If
anyone, including high-priced consultants, should ever question the value of first-line presales
management then the extreme case study is to examine what happens when the position
entirely disappears. It is a disaster!”

“It is the province of knowledge to speak. And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

This article is written by John Care, Managing Director of
Mastering Technical Sales. For more information on this and other Sales Engineering
topics visit the website at www.masteringtechnicalsales.com.

Why Do Ideas Die or Not Get Realized?

On January 19, 2022, Alex and Anatoly Agulyansky introduced their product Priz Guru (www.priz.guru) in a webinar to a group of engineer experts and the NAASE.

The co-founders of the innovation and design platform, who happen to be father and son, created a tool which helps organize design and creative thinking and problem-solving processes.

Each innovation and problem-solving process is handled as an individual project with its very own fingerprint in which the user is forced to consider a case over and over again.

In the overall process, the problem is put forth first. Only in a second step, ideas and solutions are sought and analyzed by various scientific tools, all collectively accessible on one platform. The platform itself can be operated either online based or installed on premise, if desired.

The core question “Why do ideas die or do not get realized?” (as happens to approximately  80% of problem-solving ideas and innovations) marks the backbone of the application.

“Problem solving as a science”.

Knowing about the variety of possible blockers, the platform offers a toolbox of best-in-class scientific design and creative thinking tools (e.g. Round Robin Ranking, 5+ Why’s, Cause and Effect Chain (CEC), etc.) and streamlines the overall documentation by collecting all steps and the evolution of each case individually.

Priz’ innovation and problem solution processes incorporate the personal workspace as well as teamwork spaces, allowing easy access to the projects at hand.

Asked for the main value, the creators highlight the enhanced process of an engineering solution or innovation- which can be presented to the manager.

Another highlight is the extraordinary safety and security of the platform, safeguarding proof of ownership and copyrights. Priz Guru grants privacy of all innovation data and thoughts which has been attested by an audit. The owners do not have access whatsoever to any data on this platform.

As co-founders seek further growth and adaption to the users’ needs, exchanging thoughts to further enhance the platform with the expert group proved helpful.

NAASE members are eligible for a discount off PRIZ GURU monthly subscription fees.  Inquire for more details.

**This article was written by NAASE Volunteer, Constanze Koch