The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers


YOU ARE IN SALES! Yes, my friends, if you are a sales engineer, you are in sales. You may have a different title – solution architect, sales consultant, value engineer, etc. But, regardless of your title, if you are responsible for technical presales presentations and demon- strations, you are in sales.

Why is this so important? Why do I even take the time to mention this? Because so many of the people I have worked with over the years – in fact, so many people I’ve seen in this role – do not think of themselves as being in sales. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. And worse, nothing could be more detrimental to your success. If you have a quota, you are in sales. If your job is to convince people to select your software over another, you are in sales. I just have a hard time with that

word, Chris – “sales” I know you do. I did too! For many

of us, the idea that we are in sales simply goes against our constitu- tional compass. We’re engineers at heart. We’re engineers in the way we think. Like I said in my opening, sales is almost offensive. But allow me to stress, I’m not saying you’re a used car salesman, who does whatever and says whatever to get the sale. What I’m say- ing is, in order for us to truly succeed in this role, we need to change our mindset. We need to clearly recognize that we are no longer in the teaching/ consulting/informing business. We are in the convincing business. We have a different role from that of our sales counterparts, and we’ll talk about that a great deal in this

book. But, if you are in this role, or you are considering a job in the field, please know that, yes, you are in sales. Just as I discovered, almost accidentally at a cocktail party, that was my job. If you don’t come to grips with this fact, adopting the six habits is like building a house on a shaky foundation.

SALES IS A COURTSHIP Let’s go a step further. What exactly does it mean to be in sales? Sales is a courtship. We need to interact with prospects and customers the same way we would if we were courting someone – because that’s EXACTLY what we are doing! If you’re mar- ried or in a long-term relationship, I want you to think back to your first couple of dates. Did you act then the way you do now? Of course not! And how did you act differ- ently? Here are some guidelines: We ALWAYS put our best foot forward – with respect to ourselves, our solutions, and our company. We ALWAYS act on our best behavior. We use our best manners. We ALWAYS represent the company, our software, and


our colleagues in the highest regard. We NEVER air our dirty laundry

– whether about our company, the product, our colleagues, etc. We DO NOT voluntarily confess our

sins. (More on this later.) You might be saying to yourself, why would you even mention these things? They seem so obvious. So basic. My answer: You would not believe how many times I’ve attended a demon- stration in which the sales engineer was grumpy about something – the company, his sales counterparts, the product, etc. – and made his/her disapproval known openly and often. I’ve seen sales engineers get belliger- ent with prospects. I’ve seen them get defensive, rude, arrogant, insulted by questions, etc. etc. The list frankly goes on and on. We are in sales. We are guests in someone else’s place of business. And we need to act accord- ingly – for our own benefit! Remember, our goal is to get the Technical Win. 

Chris White is the author of The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engi- neers and the founder of DemoDoctor.

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