What does a Sales Engineer do?

Having searched in many of the wrong places I found an excellent article on Frank Hecker's site, telling the world what a Sales Engineer (SE) does.

Fundamentally, it is the job of the SE to support the sales process, to the point of selling the product, until the customer has paid the money. By that time, a full transition of the account should pass it on to a long-term implementation or support based team, whose job it is to keep the customer happy.

You often hear of customer's complaining that the consultant who got things working disappeared after the customer paid up, but that is basically their job. They are also called Pre sales consultants...

The basic tasks that exist before the sale are:
  • Getting technical requirements from customers
  • Web and Live Product demonstrations
  • Advising customers which products they need for a proposed solution
  • Writing more formal documents such as proposals, and answering RFIs
  • Managing the relationship with the customer at a technical level - including support questions, evaluation requirements, proof of concept, architecture
  • Assisting salespeople with sales strategy for an account
But the SE should work themselves out of the process by the time the product is sold. In my company this is facilitated by the Services Manager getting introduced before the sale, and assisting with the final Statement of Work (SOW) for the implementation. This works well if the Services Manager is aware of the product requirements of the customer at an early stage. Of course it is not good if the SE is the Services Manager...

SEs are also in an excellent place to feed back to the company any customer requirements that are not satisfied by the current product, and see if it is possible to find solutions. Often the ability to think outside the box will be of great assistance.