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Sales Effectiveness

What is a Sales Engineer and Why Does Your Team Need Them?

November 18, 2022

Salespeople are people experts. They know how to pitch, sell, and close deals. When it comes to technology, however, sales reps struggle to understand the technical details of the product they are selling.

That’s where sales engineers come in. 

What is a sales engineer? 

A sales engineer (SE), also called a Solutions Consultant (SC), Presales Representative, Technical Sales Representative, or Solutions Architect, is a staple of the B2B sales organization and a member of the Presales team. 

It’s the job of the SE to sell technical or complex products to other enterprises. While sales representatives have the people skills to cultivate leads and build relationships with prospects, sales engineers are the experts when it comes to the product itself. It’s the job of the sales engineer to understand the product features, use cases, and how the product should be installed and integrated with the client’s existing systems. 

How to become a sales engineer

The role of sales engineer is a growing one. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of SE roles is projected to grow by 6% in the next decade, keeping pace with the growing number of technically complex products on the market. 

To become a sales engineer, you have to be proficient in both technical knowledge and sales. SEs need a 4 year degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field, although sales professionals who’ve picked up a lot of technical knowledge can also be hired as SEs. The reason for that is that SEs need to understand the sales process, and they also need to be able to explain technical or complex products to non-technical clients.

Soft skills are important here. SEs should have the interpersonal skills of a sales rep, but be problem solvers like engineers. They should also be prepared to tackle a wide range of duties. 

What does a sales engineer do? 

Sales engineers have a range of duties, depending on their workplace. Their main duties typically involve talking to customers, working with the sales team, and preparing presentations and demos.

As technical experts, sales engineers are in charge of product education; if a customer or a sales rep has a question about the product, it’s the SE’s job to answer it. The SE also helps the sales team understand the needs and requirements of the customers The SE also consults with customers regarding system requirements, helps modify products to suit customers’ needs, and troubleshoots the product after and during installation.

The SE creates content as well; they are the team members who build and deliver presentations to clients. The SE is often also charged with writing proposals, and responding to Requests for Proposals. They may also write quotes, create Proofs of Concept (POC) or other content. 

There are other duties as well: the SE may be tasked with market research or they may work with R&D to develop new products. 

How automation can help presales teams

With so much on their plates, sales engineers are sometimes in danger of becoming overwhelmed. For this reason it’s important to invest in sales enablement tools that allow them to do their job more effectively. 

That includes tools that can help with some of the most time-consuming tasks faced by SEs: bids, demos, and proposals. Businesses respond to an average of 140 RFPs every year. That’s a lot of time spent writing proposals. Automation can help take some of that burden off SEs by saving and organizing sales content so that it’s easily accessible when it's time to write a bid.

Take Ombud’s solution. Ombud stores sales content in a central library, where it’s organized and searchable. Team members are also able to vote on content, so the strongest sales content is always available to writers. When it’s time to respond to an RFP, an SE can pull together a draft quickly, or the platform can take the first pass at a draft for them. Once the draft is assembled, the SE can iterate on it, tailoring it to the client they’re writing for. 

SEs support the sales reps and account managers every day, but they need support as well. Help your presales team do their jobs better by investing in tools that make their lives easier. Request a demo of Ombud’s Presales Operating System today. 

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