Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sales Engineer Hippocratic Oath

OK, I know Sales Engineering is not brain surgery, although I do feel I have earned a doctorate in it. I do have my version of the Hippocratic Oath for Sales Engineering. “First, lose no deal.” As a Sales Engineer, it is easy to cause a deal to go south. Too Much information, too little information, the wrong information, so many ways to break this oath.

I recently spoke to a group of sales people who all worked for the same company. I spoke to each of them one on one and was amazed with what I heard from each of them on their needs for a Sales Engineer. Everyone was different. Some wanted minimal help, some wanted maximum help, and some wanted a little help.

What did I learn? You can please everyone. As Sales Engineers our jobs are to support the sales team, the way they want to be supported. Some need a lot of help, some very little, and they are both right. It is the sales person’s deal. I am there to advise and support, AND do the demo the way they want, in a way that will not lose the deal. The advice needs to happen before you are in front of the customer, and if they refuse your advice, you have to deliver the demo their way.

There are only two things I will not do while supporting the salesperson, lie, or let them lie, even if it isn’t on purpose. Otherwise I am there to serve at their pleasure.

Give a little, or give a lot, it really doesn’t matter, so long as we are closing business.


  1. Hello there! I am glad to stop by your site and know more about sales engineer job description. Keep it up! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about sales engineer job description.
    Sales engineers also collaborate with the design, production, engineering, or R&D departments of their companies to determine how products and services could be made or modified to suit customers' needs. This aspect of sales engineering is important, because it is what allows the sales engineer to feel that they can maintain their personal integrity (ethically speaking) in the face of the inherent COI of the job (explained earlier). The sales engineer does not have to lie (ignore or negatively misrepresent the competitor's products or services) if they can reasonably tell the customer that their employer can tailor its solutions to the customer's particular requirements. Doing that may not be easy or cheap, which means that there is always a line to be walked to avoid overpromising-and/or-underdelivering.
    In general, the more sophisticated – and better paid - sales engineers are closely aligned with specific clients and sales people. They are capable of performing a well synchronized dance with sales people in asking the right questions at the right time, and deliver the right messaging without sharing too much information or providing free consultation.

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  2. Steve,
    Interesting advice. Over 40 years I've had the pleasure of managing the types of sales forces you mentioned (easily over 100). In my blog, i am writing "lessons learned" during this time. You might pass it on.