Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sales Engineers - How to Build a fast Demo Laptop

Many SEs get given special treatment when it comes to demoing their products. Sometimes demo laptops are dedicated machines which are only used for that purpose and shared around the office.  Having a high end machine means that it is not a standard device, and here you might consider a Bring Your Own Device policy for sales engineers.

To make sure you can show the product(s) at peak performance, it is good to use a high-spec machine to ensure that typical end-user bottlenecks don't impact on the demo.  Nobody wants to wait for you to reboot your machine, and starting support components like virtual machines should be invisible to the customer. You are demoing your own product, not VMware! A similar thing goes for gamer laptops - while they are powerful, they also don't look like business machines and can distract from your presentation.

Typical machine optimizations might include the following:
  • High RAM - you don't want to be using your swap file
  • Multi-core processors - don't let your processors queue up jobs
  • High end graphics cards - best for multimedia and flashy graphics and high resolution
  • Solid State Drive (SSD) storage - speed up boot time and applications
  • Different form factors - why not demo on a tablet if that makes sense?
You might also consider running a demo image from a cloud based server - to get a high performance back end.  There are cloud based providers like CloudShare and Skytap that offer specialized systems for presales use.

Finally, if you are using this machine for your standard work, make sure it doesn't have too much personalization.  By all means use the latest base OS and supporting applications, but don't confuse your customers with complexity or unnecessary distractions.  Use backgrounds that complement your presentation and not distract from it.

Here are a few suggestions for SE laptops, based on what I have looked at in the market recently.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sales Engineer to Salespeople Ratios Survey Results

Recently we had a survey to check how many SEs the average sales team has in relation to the (non-SE) salespeople.  I had a lot of feedback from the field and am now making it available as some early feedback.

First of all, some assumptions (which we may want to test in a future article)
  • One thing I didn't consider that some companies may have more SEs than Salespeople.
  • Other was relatively small, but a very interesting category. I'd love to hear what the people who used other meant.
  • The respondees were SEs
  • The responses were weighted by company.  So companies with more SEs responding still get one vote.  
What does it all mean?
  • SEs want a lower ratio.  This would allow SEs to build a working relationship with a lower number of reps, and mean less time juggling responsibilities with different people.
  • The grouping of responses in the 1:4-8 category was because I didn't expect many responses. Next time I would give more options and split this category.  
  • 1:2 seems like a magic ratio
  • 1:3 like a very undesirable ratio, however 1:4-8 seems to be reasonable to those with this ratio.
I would like to discuss this more widely, in the meantime if you'd still like your voice heard - the form is still open!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Survey: Sales Engineer ratios

Getting some good responses in the Sales Engineer Ratio survey from last week.
Remember you can also access the form directly here and forward the link to other people in the market.

We are seeing all sorts of ratios of 1:1 to 1:4-8 appearing as responses so I expect to see some diversity.