Let's first be grateful for all we have accomplished this year and be thankful for the opportunities we were given all along to learn, share and grow. For the relatively new SE teams, we should reflect on what the world was like before Sales Engineering existed in your respective companies, and how it has improved since then. As we look forward to the next year, let's explore ways in which Sales Engineering (SE) teams across the globe can make an even bigger and more meaningful contribution towards the success of their sales teams and organizations.
I am sharing a list of 10 initiatives that any Sales Engineering team can implement to create efficiency, influence higher revenue or grow impact across the company.
- Publish a Prospect Profile form: Bring consistency to every demo preparation and presentation by incorporating a standard form that AE (Account Executive) and SE jointly complete. This form (example here) should only include must-have information about your understanding of the prospect's business and technical needs and what's most important to them.
- Launch a Demo Certification Program: Ensure every prospect-facing employee is singing a consistent tune. Publish a formalized demo script that everyone uses as the baseline for his or her demos. Of course, each presentation should be tailored and relevant to the prospect. Also, each presenter should add their own style and personality to make the delivery authentic. But one way to make sure that your prospects realize a consistent value proposition, no matter who is involved in the sales cycle, is by certifying every presenter on the demo fundamentals.
- Implement Calendar Honor System: A typical SE day may include a combination of prospect-facing presentations, internal research and consulting to find the most accurate solutions, thorough documentation of all activities, training on new product features and so much more. It is a miracle and a highly desirable skill set for SEs to be able to manage all of that while supporting a large number of assigned sales reps. One the most effective methods, I have experienced, is to live-by-the-calendar - which means manage your calendar religiously for all activities. This includes blocking time on the calendar for demo prep, demo follow-up, internal research, partner consultation and any activities that require focus and attention. If SEs live by their calendar, it enables and empowers their AE counterparts to make the best use of their SE resources.
- Launch a Demo Video Library: Prospects want to learn as much about your solution before engaging in a sales cycle. Why not create a library of demo snippets (<3 mins each) on the most WOW capabilities of your solution. This won't steal your thunder if your SE-led demonstration will be tailored based on the prospect's requirements.
- Implement SE Pods: AE and SE relationship are critical to the success of any sales cycle. By pairing AEs with dedicated SE resources can create a healthy environment of shared purpose, accountability and mutual success. It also empowers SEs to gain a leadership skill set that's often missing in the individual contributor role. In Ways to optimize your SE relationship, I have written about strengthening this bond even further.
- SE Ticketing & Reporting System: Complex sales cycles have many moving parts. Sometimes too many to effectively manage during the end of the month/quarter. SEs gain the most trust by prompt and accurate follow-up. A delay or lost in this communication can have a significant impact on the success rate of an opportunity. Institute a ticketing system, where a "ticket" or task is created or assigned for any SE activity (demo, RFP, technical scoping, proof-of-concept, etc) and thus creating a higher level of accountability for both the sales rep and the sales engineer.
- Publish an RFP Template: One of the best ways to add tremendous value to a prospect early in their evaluation cycle is by sharing an RFP template. This document should be a genuine representation of all features/capabilities a similar size/type customer should be considered when selecting a solution. Pro-actively sharing this resource offers a service that prospects benefit from even if they don't end up selecting your solution.
- Launch a VoP Program: A well-suited initiative for the SE team is to tune into the prospect's voice and communicate it internally in a meaningful way. Start small and scale across all product lines and industry segments. Over time, listening and documenting prospect's voice should become an SE's second nature. Please see "Are you listening to the voice of your prospect" for how to implement such a program.
- Enhanced Demo Infrastructure: The success of your demo presentation is heavily dependent on the stability and sophistication of your demo environment. Does your demo site represent a "model home" for prospects to envision their future in? It should. (Analogy) In SaaS industry, prospects aren't evaluating your platform for a weekend rental but for a place they can call home for the long haul. Your demo experience should help them connect the dots on what's possible today and how they can grow and scale with your solution in the future.
- Partner & Customer Insights: Host regular sessions and invite your key partners and customers to share their experiences and best practices. For SEs to truly become thought leaders and SME (Subject Matter Experts), they need to be intimately familiar with their customers. They must deeply understand a day-in-the-life of someone using and benefiting from the solution. If what we demonstrate aligns well with what customers eventually enjoy about our solution, we succeed at achieving a seamless experience and long-lasting relationship with our customers.
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Please comment below and share any other BIG ideas you are thinking about or have implemented all ready to take your Solutions Engineering/Solutions Consulting/Pre-Sales Consulting team to the next level. I believe the more we share about #SalesEngineering the better & stronger value our profession can bring to the success of sales teams around the globe.