Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Are your Sales Engineers treated as Superstars?

Sales Engineers perform better when they are treated well by the company. Our company treats SEs like superheroes due to the efforts they put in to win deals and ensure success.
This superhero logo helps visualize everything SEs can do for your enterprise.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What to Expect in a Sales Engineer Job Interview

How do you prepare for an SE job interview?

The job involves skills at dealing with people, answering questions, listening, presenting and becoming a trusted advisor.  If you want to win the job, you need to be prepared to show all of these skills and give your future manager the ability to see you in action.

Previously I have written about questions to expect for an SE interview.  However here we will focus on a few other areas, such as who will be there, and what should be prepared to do or show.

One common thing I look for, is to give the prospect a chance to show their presenting skills.  I wouldn't expect them to show a presentation on our products yet, but I would expect to see a polished presentation on a topic familiar to them already, such as their own tool.

I would also expect to go through a scenario where we role play a meeting with a potential customer for this presentation, and expect to have both questions and answers on this topic.

You can also expect to meet both people within the SE team, the manager and also sales resources you'd be expected to work with.  In these cases, it is not just skills, but also personality, teamwork and the ability to build a rapport with your future colleagues that is being tested.

Finally, some in depth knowledge that is important to the job, whether this is technical, subject matter related or your capabilities to communicate in the languages/mediums required which will be in focus.

Preparing for an interview is difficult, but I hope with these things in mind, you can be ready for anything - which is what you really need if you are going to be a successful SE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Future of Selling Software

I read Amy Konary's 2016 predictions on Software Licensing, and figure these will have a profound effect on how we market and sell software.

With more and more customers buying on subscription and in the cloud it will mean that Sales Engineers will focus on winning customers on a subscription basis, and often mean we need to keep proving to customers they are getting repeated value on an annual basis.

The other exciting thing was the new disruptive technologies are expected to come into the traditional vendor space and offer new ways to solve old problems.  This should affect us as consumers and as an opportunity to sell new solutions.

Looking forward to seeing this shift happen!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Why your IT Administrators don't want another agent

Running agents on systems is a problem.  It saps the performance of the device while running, creates another set of security vulnerabilities, required additional maintenance and possibly costs money to get and run.
Why is my computer slowing down?

Running multiple agents which scan the same things, means that there could be performance issues due to the conflicts between the tools.

System administrators would rather collect information once, and share multiple times at the back end, rather than deploying an additional collection agent to the end system.

However, a problem with most tools developed to collect data, is that they have a specific purpose.  Some purposes are very general, like  Endpoint management, Client Automation and Configuration Management tools.  Some are more specific, like anti-virus or security management.  Some vendors have multiple tools which they roll into one agent, which at least reduces the stack of tools from that vendor.

Smaller vendors may be able to plug into other tools, or even re-purpose the collected information without deploying any new agents.

The result is there might be some need to compromise, either in the quality of the data collected, or on the performance of the machines running.  In an ideal world, some kind of universal agent which grabs all data depending on the tools running in the back end, and runs on the required schedule to gather the required information and bring it back.  If this nirvana sounds a bit far fetched, you have to wonder whose interest would it server to create this universal agent.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Customer: Should we do a POC?

Asked by a customer recently whether they should do a POC or not.

Here is my response:
  • Do in a POC the things that are most important for your business and your project
  • Do POCs only with the vendor who is in a position to deliver what you need. 
  • Only do a POC if you need to. Many major businesses find much better ways to evaluate their alternatives than doing a POC in their environment. 
  • A good POC should not be a trial run or test install or pilot. 
First of all, a POC is to show that there is business value in doing a project. Running a long evaluation of a product to check that every feature does what it is meant to won't get you to your business goal (unless you are in the business of running evaluations).
It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to create a test implementation or product QA lab and think you are doing some beneficial POC for your project.  However usually there is some key reason you are looking at a product.  If the product is able to show that it fulfills this key requirement then usually it is a successful POC.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Challenger Customer and Sales Engineers

I am right in the middle of reading "The Challenger Customer" which is the successor to The Challenger Sale.  One problem with the Challenger Sale book was that it focused on what the Sales team can do, and on our perspective, but of course this misses the big picture where the Customer is really the key decision making party.


The Challenger Customer picks up from this point and looks at how we can change the approach, and is of interest both to customers and buying teams, and to sales teams.

One of the concepts I found really important is that the different people and roles they play in the decision making process, and the fact that it is not obvious which people play the greatest role in helping make decisions in favour of vendors offering solutions of value to more than one group.  Identifying the different roles people play in decision making processes, and winning over multiple different people based not only on the overall benefit, but also the individual benefit to their group.

 As Sales Engineers, often we find ourselves forced in premature demos or Proof of Concepts, rather than getting a better view of requirements from each team first.  Reading the Challenger Sale could help you understand from the customer perspective what goes on in the decision making process, and how you can help customers make better decisions.