Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pricing And The Sales Engineer

This month’s MTS Edge newsletter features a lead article about Pricing And The Sales Engineer. Judging by some of the emails I received it is a very contentious subject. My view, and it’s a simple straightforward one, is that SE’s need to stay as far away from pricing as they can – at least from the customer viewpoint. So let me explain that in a little more detail.

First, on the scale of things that SE’s do and Account Manager’s do – pricing should clearly be the sales role. Yet in many companies it isn’t. SE’s are asked to put together configurations, and then to price them out – leaving the salesguy with not much to do in that area except apply specials and discounts and get approval (yes – and I know that is not always easy!) That kind of behavior is prevalent in hardware companies, in companies that deal with a lot of RFPs and in subscription model type environments.

There is enough for SE’s to do during the sale without having to get involved in complex pricing and configuration. Yes – the SE should validate the configuration and make sure that it is technically accurate and does the job for the customer, but they shouldn’t put the initial configuration together or price it. If your pricing and config is so complex that sales cannot do it – how can a customer ever hope to understand it? So if a rep (or a partner) can’t do pricing and config I think it is the role of sales management to teach them – not of the SE to bail them out. Contentious - yes. A little “not my job: - yes. But an appropriate use of resources and applying skills strength to strength. I've seen some SE teams spend 30% of their time on this task.

That said – any senior and experienced SE should understand the pricing model of their services/solution/product. Just as you can usually tell in the first 15 minutes of a call whether you are a “good fit”, you should also know an approximate deal size that you are looking at. As far as the customer is concerned you know nothing, but behind the scenes it helps you to be honest and do the right thing for the customer.

Just my thoughts.