What is a Sales Engineer (SE)?

A Sales Engineer is a part of a technology sales team, for an organisation trying to sell Hardware, Software or Services. The sales engineer's role is to ensure the technical part of this sale removes any obstacles and helps ensure the deal happens with a good value to the seller.

There can be different types of SE roles and ways of structuring an SE organisation.
Types of Sales Engineer Roles
The Structure of an SE organisation

A Sales Engineer is usually compensated like a Salesperson, with commission paid on business revenue :
How should SEs be Compensated?

The value an SE adds to a deal
The Value added by a Sales Engineer is defined in both higher success rates than a commercial effort alone, higher success rates of implementations, and a quicker way of doing business by removing these technical obstacles.

Typical tasks performed by an SE
What does a Sales Engineer do?

Answering RFPs, RFIs, RFQs (providing information to customers)
Procurement Processes
RFI Time - Answering an RFI

Presenting the product in Technical Demonstrations
The Demo Doctor
Demo PC rebuild
Webinar tool use to minimise travel
Using GoToMeeting to deliver a Sales Demonstration
5 Easy steps: How to do a Great Tech Demo!

Perform Proof of Concepts to ensure customer is satisfied at product capabilities
Proof of Concept
Customer Unready to Evaluate

SEs need training - it is not a magical skill that only certain people possess, but it is an art that can be improved over time.
Training for Sales Engineers
WeirdSE Launches Wisdom Apple Apps