What is a Sales Engineer – and How Do They Help Sales Teams Win More Clients?

Sean Lund-Brown

A sales engineer is a high-level role that is responsible for facilitating the sales process in many B2B (and some B2C) settings. While traditional sales reps might know the basics of a product or service, the sales engineer is responsible for understanding and selling complex technical products, or creating materials to facilitate sales and client proposals. There’s a lot more to the job than just rattling off tech specs, though, and they have more value to your sales team than you might realize. 

In this blog, we'll cover everything that you need to know about sales engineers and why they are an important part of the sales arsenal for several companies. 

Sales engineers: the occupation 

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales engineers hold about 63,800 jobs across the U.S., with growth expected at about 8% through 2030. These professionals typically hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and earn an average salary of about $108,830 per year, based on this recent report. 

Sales engineers are responsible for selling complex technological and/or scientific products and services, often working irregular hours to meet client needs and demands. Sales engineers are most successful when they can combine their technical knowledge with strong people skills and sales abilities. 

The skills: a rundown

There are several different skills that a sales engineer may possess. They usually have a lot of technical expertise and may even have an engineering or computer science degree. However, this role also requires some non-technical skills, so you have to strike the right balance. Typically, sales engineers will have similar qualities, which include things like:

  • Technical skills
  • Soft skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Ability to turn complex information into easily understandable material
  • Experience with sales
  • Experience with customer service

Any other skills or abilities beyond this could improve their ability to provide the solutions that your business needs. If nothing else, you can use this list to keep an eye on your options when you are trying to find the sales engineer that your team needs. 

Why businesses need sales engineers

In today’s digital world, companies need to rely on sales engineering teams to provide solutions for communication and functional roles in the sales process. They often contribute to requests for proposals (RFPs) and other documents, while also offering assistance with solution architectures and product demonstrations. Essentially, the sales engineer is the tech pro that you need on your team. 

They can function as a technical advisor and help provide the support and management needed to continue to cultivate technical relationships with your customers. Some of the benefits that come from hiring a sales engineer include:

  • Quick access to a person that has product knowledge: Instead of having to pester the engineering team or trying to figure it out on their own, your sales team can benefit from having a sales engineer because it’s like having an instant answer provider on hand. They can even be brought on sales calls to ensure that the technical details are explained accurately. 
  • Improved training for your sales team: When you have someone with the technical knowledge of the product and experience with sales, it offers a much more effective product training for your sales teams. You can improve their ability to demo the product without your engineers and even better explain and address customer pain points. 
  • Clear expectations set for your prospects: Buyers will only be happy with their sales process if their expectations are met, and they’ll love it if those expectations are exceeded. Having a sales engineer allows you to explain exactly what your prospects should expect both with the product or service and throughout the sales process. 
  • Helps create successful plans: Walking into a new service provider can be as scary as wandering into a dark cave. Being able to set clear expectations allows everyone to focus on an initial plan for success. The sales engineer’s role here is that they have the precise technical knowledge to help create a plan for success before the ink even dries on the contracts. 
  • Offers a smoother transition to success in the customer journey: When you’re transitioning your customers to handle their own efforts, the sales engineer helps make that transition smooth. He can easily facilitate the handoff from sales to customer success and ensure that nothing is overlooked. It has proven to make customer journeys far smoother and more successful to employ a sales engineer. 

Sales engineers are essentially the go-betweens of the technical sales world. They save the engineers the interruptions and save the sales team trying to decode all the technical lingo in today’s high-tech product and service space. 

According to Darren Smith, the Senior VP of Service and Solutions for Vonage

“The reason why sales engineers are so key to your business is that you can use their knowledge and understanding of the complexities within communication environments, to build a solution that wins you business but also leaves the customer with the best solution they could have wanted.”

Ultimately, it’s about creating a holistic solution that exceeds customer expectations. 

Speaking of holistic solutions, consider partnering with Smith.ai

Smith.ai can be a part of those holistic solutions, delivering the assistance and support that you need with a team of dedicated virtual receptionists that can facilitate better communications and more. Our 24/7 call answering and live website chat solutions are just the start. We can even assist with lead intake, scheduling, and all kinds of other admin solutions. 

Plus, when you’ve got the need for assistance through the sales and promotion process, we can help with outbound sales and support and even give you a team to manage your outreach campaigns. No matter what you need, we can handle it all. And, we’ll deliver a custom strategy for it, too. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how Smith.ai can be a part of your sales team’s solution for better growth. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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