What is Sales Engineering: How An SE Team Can Help Crush Your Goals

Jonathan Costet April 19, 2022

Sometimes a flashy sales presentation will not get the job done.

Depending on your product/service or who you are speaking with, you may need to get more technical in your sales approach.

This is where a sales engineer becomes a huge asset to your team.

A sales engineer is like a player-coach — one part sales, one part engineering. They must possess extensive, often technical, product or service knowledge. Typically, this is a role in the B2B world… selling more complex products to other businesses.​​

This article will discuss why a sales engineer can speed up your sales cycle and boost close rates, outline the goals of a sales engineer, the various tools they use and explore whether or not your team needs one. Oh, and we may talk about Gong here and there. 

Wait. Do I really need a sales engineer?

Yes!

No! 

Well, it depends.

Here are 3 signs indicating the need for a sales engineer on your team: 

  1. You sell a technical product

Many products can be categorized as “technical” — from “traditional” SaaS solutions to AI/machine-learning platforms.

If, as part of your sales pitch, you find yourself using terms like API, DaaS, ​multi-tenancy, cloud bursting, latency, VPC, VPN, or latency, well, you likely sell a technical product.

If you find many of your sales calls are with CTOs or engineers or developers, you likely sell a technical product.

If you know what you sell but are not entirely sure how it works, well, you likely sell a technical product.

You need a sales engineer as part of your team.

  1. You sell a product that integrates with a number of different systems on your client’s side

Some products are “out of the box” or “plug and play.” You simply grant access, assign a login and password, and you are off. 

But that’s just for the basics. These days, many SaaS products perform even better with integrations — turning your solution from good (or great) to OMG, THIS IS AMAZING.

When your customer’s tech stack plays nicely with your tech, there is often a need for more technical minds to have some conversations. In other words …

You need a sales engineer as part of your team.

  1. Your sales cycles get stuck in technical discussions

The sales process is humming along. You’ve effectively moved from cold call/email to discovery to qualified lead. And then … 

You hit a bump. Technical conversations. You kinda sorta know what you are talking about, but you are suddenly in a (virtual?) room with the CTO and their team. You feel a touch out of your element, slightly in over your head.

You can fumble through things, but it gets awkward having to constantly say, “Can I get back to you?” or “I am pretty sure it can do that, but let me check.” 

Guess what?

You need a sales engineer as part of your team.

Don’t sell a technical product? Don’t have a product that integrates with different systems? Don’t have sales calls stuck in tech-talk? Well, you probably don’t need a sales engineer.

(You can stop reading now. Or not. I mean, it’s really your call. You’ve read this far … why not just finish?)

What does a Sales Engineer (SE) really do?

So now you know you need a sales engineer as part of your team. Check and check.

But what does that individual really do? What are their goals?

An SE really has the same goal as a “normal” salesperson: WIN MORE DEALS.

Any solid SE should be the technical resource for sales reps, the person who jumps into calls and meetings and deals to help customers … and ultimately win the account.

Specifically, SEs: 

Talk in-depth about supported integrations

When it comes to all things integrations, your SE knows it all — in-depth, in detail. Likewise, they are well versed in the latest and greatest integrations your organization offers. 

Even better: They know which ones work best for your customer. SEs can provide a high-level overview to a large group or go in the weeds and geek it out. 

Discuss security and privacy concerns

In today’s hypersensitive privacy world, security, up-time, privacy — all of it — will likely come up on every single sales call. Most salespeople can tick through the talking points, but few are trained to speak to the level necessary to appease true security and privacy folks.

SEs walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to speaking intelligently on how their platform or service deals with security and privacy. Sure, they can point to the privacy page that lives on the corp page, but they can speak to it confidently?

Help customers understand integrations with unsupported systems, especially APIs.

While integrations are A-MAZ-ING, there are times when tying two disparate systems together is not easy as a login/password.

Integrating with unsupported systems, especially APIs, is something a well-trained SE should be able to do with their eyes closed… or maybe one eye closed.

Assist with data migrations

Finally, an SE worth their weight in gold will be able to help customers migrate data from their prior vendor into your solution. Sometimes data migrations are as “simple” as a quick export/import; other times, it’s more complex and very specific to the customer’s service.

This is where an SE comes in — for the “non-normal” data migrations.

Besides the four tasks outlined above, top SEs can also jump into “non-technical” sales calls if needed. They are a huge asset to any organization — someone that quickly becomes a top sales reps’ BFF.

What tools does a Sales Engineer have in their arsenal?

In a pre-SaaS world, SEs had one “tool” … themselves!

The best-of-the-best SEs used to distinguish themselves by the amount of industry and institutional knowledge — most of which lived in their heads (and maybe on legal pads).

Fast forward to the 21st century, and there is now powerful software that houses much of that knowledge. Sure the SE still has to know their stuff and be at the top of their game, but various software makes their lives that much easier.

And the RIGHT software means SEs can answer questions quickly, and correctly, be on message, and learn from their peers.

At Gong (we warned you we might talk about Gong “here and there”), we have the software to help just about every employee within your organization, including Sales Engineers.

  1. Call recording software: Find what separates the best from the rest. Gong’s call recording software helps sellers level up their skills by listening to best-of-the-best sales call recordings from top performers. Our platform enables sales reps to share snippets with their SE before stepping into the call. Additionally, SEs can learn from their peers. Find out what works (and what doesn’t) by digging into data-driven recommendations and learning what a winning conversation sounds like.
  2. Sales tracking software: Our platform provides total deal visibility. Our sales tracking tool gives the entire organization access to every customer touchpoint (call, email, web conferencing) throughout every deal, providing a clear view into your pipeline. Knowing what is in the pipeline is no longer reserved for sales reps only. Now SEs are “in the know.” In addition, they can track the ROI of key initiatives supported by the team.
  3. Revenue Intelligence: Don’t want to enter call notes into Salesforce manually? Neither do we. With Gong, you can automatically record and log calls into Salesforce with the Gong for Salesforce integration. Import conversations and track activity in accounts, opportunities, contacts and leads in Salesforce with call recording from Gong. Get hyper-accurate activity data and always up-to-date records automatically to see where your team is performing (and where they’re falling behind).

Gong does all of that…

… and more.

Call recording.

Sales tracking. 

Recording and logging calls into Salesforce.

Those are just a few of the many ways Gong’s Revenue Intelligence platform helps customers unlock reality and fuel their revenue engine.

Gong adds science to the art of selling to help you win more deals.

Learn how we can help your Sales Engineers and your entire organization.

Score this presentation template for your next SE call

So you’re looking to step up your Sales Engineering game.

The best (and quickest) way to do that: Use this data-backed sales presentation template.

You’ll learn which slides to cut from your team’s deck (these 5 are known offenders that diminish sales effectiveness).

And what to present instead so you can close more deals.

It’s as easy as copy, paste, win.

WRITTEN BY
Jonathan Costet

Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Gong | Au revoir opinions, bonjour reality