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Working with Sales Engineers as an Account Executive: Tips and Best Practices

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamJan 25, 2024

Sales Engineers are an essential part of the sales process, especially in tech sales. They work closely with Account Executives to ensure that the products or services being sold meet the customer’s needs.

As an Account Executive, it is essential to understand the role of the Sales Engineer and how they can help you close deals. A successful partnership between Account Executives and Sales Engineers is crucial for achieving sales success and building long-term customer relationships. 

Here we’ll discuss the key elements of a successful partnership between Account Executives and Sales Engineers. We will also provide tips on how to build and maintain a strong working relationship with your Sales Engineer.

Understanding the Sales Engineer’s Role

Sales Engineers are technical experts who work closely with Account Executives to provide technical expertise and support throughout the sales process. As an AE, it’s important to understand the role of a Sales Engineer and how they can support your sales efforts. 

Learn more about the role of Sales Engineers 

Technical Expertise and Support

Sales Engineers bring a wealth of technical knowledge and expertise to the table. They are responsible for understanding the technical aspects of the product or service being sold, and can help Account Executives explain complex technical concepts to clients. They can also assist with technical questions and concerns that arise during the sales process.

Sales Engineers work closely with Account Executives to ensure that they have the technical support they need to close deals. They can help with product demonstrations, technical evaluations, and proof of concept testing. They can also provide guidance on technical requirements, such as system integrations and data migrations.

Product Demonstrations and Presentations

One of the key roles of a Sales Engineer is to conduct product demonstrations and presentations. Sales Engineers are responsible for showcasing the features and benefits of the product or service being sold, and demonstrating how it can meet the specific needs of the client.

Sales Engineers work closely with Account Executives to understand the client’s requirements and tailor their presentations accordingly. They can also provide guidance on best practices for delivering effective product demonstrations and presentations.

In summary, Sales Engineers play a critical role in supporting Account Executives throughout the sales process. They bring technical expertise and support, and can assist with product demonstrations and presentations. By working closely with Sales Engineers, Account Executives can provide a more comprehensive sales experience to clients, and increase the likelihood of closing deals.

Compare salaries for Account Executive and Sales Engineer roles

Collaboration Strategies

Working with Sales Engineers requires a collaborative effort to achieve success. Below are some strategies that can help Account Executives like you work effectively with your Sales Engineering team.

Communication and Reporting

Effective communication is critical to any partnership, and the relationship between Account Executives and Sales Engineers is no exception. It is important to establish clear lines of communication and reporting to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Regular check-ins and status updates can help keep everyone informed about the progress of deals and potential roadblocks. Consider setting up a shared workspace where both teams can collaborate and share information in real-time.

Joint Account Planning

At sales orgs where the AE owns the long-term relationship with large accounts, it’s a good strategy to work closely with your Sales Engineer on account planning. Collaborating on account planning can help Account Executives and Sales Engineers align their goals and strategies. By working together, you can identify areas of opportunity, develop joint action plans, and ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.

Consider holding joint planning sessions where both teams can share their insights and perspectives. This can help ensure that all relevant factors are taken into account and that the resulting plan is comprehensive and effective. 

To get the most out of these long-term relationships, AEs will need to map out opportunities for both horizontal and vertical expansion.

Working with SEs for  Horizontal Account Planning

Horizontal expansion means selling the same or similar products into different business units in the same company (or new child companies under the same parent). Oftentimes, savvy sales executives can leverage their relationship with a large enterprise to give their company a significant advantage in these types of sales. 

Having already established a master service agreement (MSA) with a large company — and having already passed significant hurdles such as security and compliance review — can make their solution much easier to buy. As an AE, a Sales Engineer can be very helpful in mapping out the parallels between existing business and new opportunities, to ensure that the solution design makes sense.

Working with SEs for Vertical Account Planning

When looking at vertical account expansion, the SE can also play a critical role. With vertical expansion, you’re trying to sell other products in your portfolio into a large org that is already a customer. 

If you have an SE that is familiar with the account already, you’ll have a huge advantage when designing a solution for a consultative sale. The AE and SE will already be familiar with the customer’s technical environment, as well as their goals and objectives. This can help to give you the inside track in selling additional solutions into the account.

See open Account Executive and Sales Engineer roles

Conflict Resolution

No partnership is immune to conflict, and it is important to have a plan in place for resolving disagreements. When conflicts arise, it is essential to address them promptly and professionally.

Consider establishing a clear process for conflict resolution, including steps for escalating issues to higher levels of management if necessary. By addressing conflicts proactively and openly, you can help maintain a positive and productive working relationship with your Sales Engineering team.

An area where conflict might arise is if the Sales Engineer feels that the product that you’re trying to sell will not be an adequate solution to the problem. In this dynamic, the SE will often serve as a technical advocate for the customer. 

In this role they might highlight potential obstacles or challenges that are likely to come up but which the customer may not have otherwise had insight into. When this happens, it’s usually because the SE has the best interest of the customer — as well as the long-term best interests of the company — in mind. 

When possible, collaborate with the SE and your product team to see if these challenges could be addressed. If they can’t be addressed, it is usually best to defer to the SE if they have concerns — or escalate to bring in leadership from the SE and AE teams to evaluate the situation. 

Always try to keep this dynamic collaborative — and remember that you are on the same team.

Leveraging Sales Engineers’ Skills

Working closely with Sales Engineers can help AEs close deals faster and build strong relationships with clients. Sales Engineers bring technical expertise to the table, which can help you develop custom solutions for clients and handle technical objections. Here’s how to leverage Sales Engineers’ skills to drive more revenue.

Custom Solutions Development

Sales Engineers can help you develop custom solutions that meet clients’ specific needs. They can work with you to understand clients’ pain points and develop solutions that address those pain points. Sales Engineers can also help you identify opportunities to upsell clients by suggesting additional features or services that would benefit them.

To make the most of Sales Engineers’ expertise, involve them early in the sales process. Bring them into meetings with clients so they can understand clients’ needs and provide input on solutions. Use their technical knowledge to create proposals that are tailored to clients’ needs.

Handling Technical Objections

Sales Engineers can also help you handle technical objections from clients. They can address clients’ concerns about the technical aspects of your product or service and provide solutions to any issues that arise.

To prepare for technical objections, work with Sales Engineers to identify potential issues and develop responses to those issues. Train your sales team to involve Sales Engineers when technical questions arise during the sales process.

Sales Process Integration

Integrating Sales Engineers into your sales process can help you build strong relationships with your clients and drive more revenue. There are two main areas where AEs can integrate Sales Engineers into their sales process integration: pre-sales activities and post-sales support.

Pre-Sales Activities

During the pre-sales phase, Sales Engineers work with Account Executives to provide technical expertise to potential clients. This includes assisting with product demonstrations, creating technical proposals, and answering any technical questions the client may have. By integrating Sales Engineers into these activities, Account Executives can ensure that clients receive accurate and detailed information about the product, which can help build trust and credibility.

To make the most of pre-sales activities, you should work closely with Sales Engineers to understand their technical expertise and how it can benefit the sales process. By doing so, you can leverage the Sales Engineer’s knowledge to provide a more comprehensive sales pitch that addresses the client’s specific needs.

Post-Sales Support

After a sale has been made, Sales Engineers continue to play a critical role in ensuring client satisfaction. This includes providing technical support, troubleshooting any issues that arise, and helping clients implement the product. 

By integrating Sales Engineers into the post-sales support process, you can ensure that clients receive ongoing technical assistance and that any issues are resolved quickly.

Overall, integrating Sales Engineers into your sales process is essential to your success. By leveraging their technical expertise, you can build strong relationships with clients and drive more revenue. 

Continuous Improvement

To ensure that you are working effectively with your Sales Engineer, it is essential to focus on continuous improvement. There are two key areas to focus on when it comes to continuous improvement: feedback and performance review, and training and development.

Feedback and Collaborative Performance Reviews

Feedback and performance reviews are essential for ensuring that you are working effectively with your Sales Engineer. You should provide regular feedback to your Sales Engineer on their performance and provide them with constructive criticism to help them improve. This feedback should be specific, measurable, and actionable. You should also encourage your Sales Engineer to provide feedback on your performance, so you can improve your working relationship.

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