“Agent Talk” is a recurring segment that offers new insight, ideas and strategy to our friends in the telecom agent community. Check back for a new post each month!
In Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character famously tells his sales team, “Coffee’s for closers.” Closing, as defined by that film, came down to your sales skills and the quality of leads you had.
If only telecom was so simple.
If coffee really is for closers, then in our world we’d need a couple of pots to split among the people that should be helping us win deals. And there’s no one quite as critical in helping you close deals as the sales engineer.
Who is the sales engineer?
15 years ago the sales engineer was not customer-facing. In fact, at many companies, the SE was more of your cliche/stereotypical IT guy. As technology and the industry evolved, the SE has evolved too, taking on a role that is part sales, part techie. In order to design the right solutions, the SE must interact with your prospective buyers and clients, and depending on who your vendor trots out in that role, it can be make-or-break time for your deal.
What makes a good sales engineer?
As I said above, the SE has to be part sales. He or she has to know what to say, and in many cases, what not to say. They have to know you and what you’re trying to accomplish so they don’t kill your deal. At the same time, they need to know what the customer needs and what the customer may not know it needs. Experience comes into play here. If your SE has built solutions across a variety of industries, they’ll be more in-tune with what your prospect needs right out of the gate.
The biggest key, in my opinion, is the SE’s ability to think creatively about solutions. Solutions aren’t “out-of-the-box” anymore, so sometimes we in sales get creative about the solutions we’re putting together to offer the prospect. On the RARE (right?) occasion that happens, the sales engineer needs to get even more creative to make what we promised work.
There are no “lone wolves” anymore. Embrace the help!
My final point is this: In today’s world of telecom sales, no agent is an island. It takes a team approach to make things happen. You need a channel manager, sales engineer, solutions builders, billing departments, and others to fine-tune solutions so your clients stay clients for years to come. You can’t do it alone, and that means the people supporting the vendors you’re selling are as important as any element of your sales strategy.
Embrace the skills these people bring to the table. Do that, and you’ll have earned that cup of Joe.