Monday, March 23, 2015

The Neat And Tidy Sales Engineer (or not ...)

Maybe it is my original background as a Chemical Engineer,
working on an Oil Refinery, but I've always been very conscious of working in a neat, safe and tidy environment. So it's always bothered me that many SE's operate in a totally different way - with cables, hardware, paperwork and everything else they need for a customer presentation or demo just scattered around them.

It all finally came to a head last week when I sat in on a brand new demo given by a principal SE from one of my clients. The demo was a thing of beauty - tied the technology back to business benefits, injected competitive differentiators, challenged the status quo and kept everyone's attention - except ... the team used a laptop (with a power cord), a projector (with a power cord and sound cable), and yet another external device (with a power cord) . The cords snaked all over the conference room table and under the feet of the SE and the Rep. At least a half-dozen times during the meeting someone nearly tripped over a loose cable or had to move the projector connection. It was just messy! The Director of IT Operations even made a snarky comment about how the vendor was trying to kill her.

It doesn't project (poor pun) a professional image to operate that way - especially when there is mid to senior level management in the room.

Look at your power cord - see that little piece of Velcro attached to it - use it! Wrap up the loose cable.

If you have to run a power cord by where you are standing, have some painters or duct tape in your laptop bag - and tape it down.

If the connector to the projector runs across the table - keep it out of the customers way.

It's not that hard. Be professional and be safe. (Who thought practicing "safe demo" meant things like this?)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

February Was A Great Month For The Sales Engineer!

Since I believe that Sales Engineering is one of the greatest jobs around, every month should be a good month. Yet February was exceptional for the profession as a whole. Here are some truly cool and magnificent things I saw happen.

1.       Two SE leaders were promoted to match the status of their sales peers. A VP of WW Sales Engineers became an EVP, and a Director of North American SE’s was elevated to a VP. I am sensitive to this as many years ago it always used to bother me that I was a SE Director with a team of over 40 people, and worked side-by-side with area sales VP’s who had teams of 10 to 20. It struck me as a sign of the different status between sales and presales even in the eyes of HR at the time. OK – I’m just sensitive..

2.       A mid-size software company decided to re-organize their SE team and eliminated the horrendous “player-coach” positions they had created. That position required a lead SE to manage 4-6 other SE’s and still do a regular SE job. Leadership is a full-time job. Awesome!
3.       It’s the year of SE Leadership. We’ve now run three SE specific leadership workshops already, have another three booked and two more likely. This is a global phenomenon and not just limited to the US.
4.       A joint group of sales and presales individuals “negotiated” an agreement with Marketing to update their slide decks so they were customer focused instead of analyst and/or “what’s new?” focused.
5.      Two other large technology companies started up their own grow-your-own SE programs. Taking in college recruits and putting them through a comprehensive 12-18 month training program.

6.       Three companies modified their practices to allow SE entry of technical and business sales data.

A good month indeed!