16 Aug

Our philosophies are born out of not only our experiences, but also how we have organized those experiences.  We can call this “organization” our Mental Model. Another way to think about Mental Models is that they act like job descriptions when asking: “What is a Pre-Sales Engineer?” or “what is a Sales Professional?”  When you try to answer those questions, your mind fills with images, assumptions, and stories that, for you, represent what it is to be a Pre-Sales Engineer (or sales professional).  I believe it is critical to understand job duty expectations because one of the biggest mistakes companies and dealers make today is overlooking what a “Mental Model” should entail before hiring or developing a successful Pre-Sales Engineer, in order for them to be qualified in our annuity-based, services-led marketplace. 

The number one question that I get asked most is on “how do we find or develop a quality Pre-Sales Engineer?”  Unfortunately, most companies  either lack resources or knowledge on how to develop or train this type of individual. This article is designed to help aid in the area of Pre-Sales Support. I hope it can be a starting block in developing or realizing what it takes to create an ideal Pre-Sales Support Engineer (PSE).

Relationships Trump Knowledge

Investing in the right individual is key in any process. One common mistake that I see over and over is on companies hiring very technical savvy individuals with no emotional intelligence or sales empathy, or to put it another way, a real pain to work with. I don’t care if you’re Bill Gates himself, if you are not easy to work with your sales staff will not engage and your customers will not relate.

The PSE is a demanding position dealing with most of your top customers and reps. In my opinion, the ideal PSE will be self-driven, accountable, and have the understanding and empathy of how to deal with all personality types.

Key Point to Consider

Great sales professionals are often annoyingly likeable:  I hammer this statement home when training PSE’s, in order to handle and work with sales staff. By teaching  PSE’s this common understanding , it will be save you hours of constant battle between “Sales and the PSE”

Establish Credibility

Companies should prepare their PSE to understand that their main job is to first establish credibility. Too often I have seen PSE’s trying to battle “antennas” with IT personnel in the sales process when they should be trying to establish reports.  This usually happens because your PSE is insecure with their knowledge level or technical aptitude.

Key Point to Consider

Great PSE’s will always build TRUST with clients and staff:  Trust is established through consistent behavior and having the right amount of personality and technical competence. Developing your PSE staff to not only be technically competent but also easy to work with is the catalyst for your services sales.

Credentials are Critical

While I have talked a lot about personality, knowledge and validated competence as a Subject Matter expert is just as critical. In my lifetime, I have met a lot of individuals who talk the talk but cannot walk the walk when it comes to technical competence. If you expect your customers and staff to make strategic and high dollar recommendations in the areas of technology, then make sure you have the right expert with validated credentials leading that charge.

Key Point to Consider

Customers and staff won’t tell you in any first call meeting with a PSE but there will come a time when credentials and experience needs to be validated. This may appear subtly, often during dialogue with clients, but it is at this moment that your sales/engagement is either squashed or validated. 

Author : Eric Stavola

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