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What Is a Sales Engineer Worth?

In my recent post about the fragmented sales training industry I wrote about the hundreds of smaller sales training/consulting shops out there.  Salesengineering.com is one worth noting. (ESR published a piece on them a while back when they were still TechSellEnts). 

The reason I’m excited about them today is their most recent newsletter with presents a case study quantifying the business impact of SEs (sales engineers). 

There are two messages here:

  1. SEs are a critical part of any sales team that sell technical or technology products.  They provide far more value than just doing demos.  To ignore them is to limit your company’s revenue potential.  SEs can make the difference between winning and losing.  Their work can have an impact on many other aspects of the sale including the level of discounting.
  2. Salesengineering.com’s Joe Winthrop and Phil Janus are smart.  They understand that quantifying the business value they deliver to their clients differentiates them from many of the other firms that may profess to deliver the same results.  We spoke to their clients.  They really do what they claim in this case study.

There are sales performance improvement providers that will stand behind an ROI.  There are even some that will guarantee results. If you’re shopping, ask the vendors how they quantify the value they’ll provide to your company if you engage with them.  Their response to that question will reveal a lot.


One Response

  1. Recently, an EVP at a very large high-tech firm told us, “We don’t know what we are getting back for our half-Billion dollar investment in pre-sales SEs.” Yikes.

    Sadly, almost nobody knows the answer. As Dave says, SEs can have an impact. We have now documented that this impact is often enormous.

    Real customer data is showing 3 to 7 times more incremental revenue per year. SEs pay for themselves 2 to 5 times over annually. Annual program returns have ranged from 130x to 385x per dollar. One customer generated 678% more incremental revenue in 6 months. Stated another way, failing to implement a pre-sales initiative costs $300,000-$500,000 per SE per year in lost revenue.

    ESR’s paper: Supporting Sales Engineers explains why pre-sales performance initiatives generate larger returns than sales rep initiatives. Operational efficiencies are achieved through some pre-sales change management process that empowers SEs to leverage their technical credibility to drive revenue, reduce their cost of sales, and take full control of the technical decision.

    While this all resonates well with pre-sales leadership (“Where have you been all my life?”), it all too often falls on deaf ears with Sales VPs, CFOs, and COOs. The majority of Sales VPs tell us they don’t have the budget or that they have higher priorities.

    The business case to a CFO for our pre-sales program is very strong, so blaming budget is just an excuse. The real reasons for executive inaction lie in change management discipline — in the fears and threats that change mismanagement usually presents.

    After 11 years of doing this our patent pending program is unique and proven. For those of you who have the foresight and vision, your pre-sales team can help you blow the doors off your numbers.

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