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Sales Tips
5 min read

What Are Sales Engineers and Do You Need One for Your SaaS Company?

Sales engineers

If you work for a SaaS company, you know that there’s a big difference between a new customer signing up and a happy customer who is fully utilizing your software.

If you want your customers to continue paying for your solution, you need to ensure they make the most out of it and realize its value. 

A sales rep may sell your SaaS, but a sales engineer can encourage a successful integration with your customers’ existing environment and ongoing use.  

Let’s understand how a sales engineer can benefit your company, and what are the pros and cons of hiring one.

What does a sales engineer do?

A SaaS Sales Engineer has deep knowledge of your SaaS platform and how it integrates into a customer’s system. Sales engineers (which are sometimes called solutions engineers) only sell the solution; they oversee its successful implementation. 

Your solution may solve many common pain points. Still, each customer has a unique technology stack and varying software portfolios and workflows that could affect its integration with your product. 

Critical responsibilities of sales engineers

Sales engineers are usually involved in the early discovery stages of meeting a prospective client. The sales engineer will be involved in:

  • Scripting and presenting demos to prospects.
  • Addressing technical objections or questions.
  • Assisting developers with initial integrations.
  • Implementing required third-party integrations.
  • Providing front-line technical feedback to your developers.
  • Supporting the SaaS marketing team with the compilation of white papers, technical manuals, and other materials. 

Your sales engineer will be able to work with your internal development team to build out your product with plug-ins and enhancements discovered in the field. 

Advantages of sales engineers

There are many benefits to hiring a sales engineer. These include:

Quick access to someone with product knowledge

Sales engineers typically work with sales reps or account executives with less in-depth technical skills. Having a go-to sales engineer helps your entire sales team answer questions quickly and provide more detail to prospects without unnecessarily pulling in members of your development team. 

Improve product training

Your sales engineer understands the product and all the technical objections a prospect might have. Offering support and training to sales reps improves their ability to demo the product and overcome objections they may encounter in the field. When they train prospects, it increases the likelihood of successful uptake of your product into their environment. 

Set expectations for prospects

Not all clients may find the solution to their satisfaction, and not all integrations will be seamless. A sales engineer can set realistic expectations from the start, including anticipating problems that may occur, reducing churn, and improving client satisfaction. 

Improve customer success

Sales engineers understand what is needed from a technical perspective to achieve customer success. They can facilitate a smooth transition to the product using their knowledge of the technical environment of the prospects.

Disadvantages of sales engineers

Two disadvantages come with the territory when you decide to hire a sales engineer: the cost and the lack of proficient sales engineers on the market. There aren’t many technical engineers that are willing to enter the sales field. Finding and recruiting skilled sales engineers is challenging, and they come at a premium cost. 

Few start-ups can afford a full-time sales engineer on staff and may have to consider alternative options. 

Technical sales reps vs. Demo engineers

The sales industry keeps involving and so do the roles they require. Two of the newer titles that have emerged are technical sales reps and demo engineers. 

Technical sales reps 

Technical sales reps aren’t qualified technical engineers but are proficient in selling technical solutions. Unlike sales engineers, they may not have the technical expertise to identify integration problems. They will work with your internal development team to communicate possible solutions or pitfalls to prospects during the sales process. 

Demo engineers 

Demo engineers are a relatively new field in the SaaS industry. Many SaaS companies felt that hiring both a sales rep and sales engineer to close one account wasn’t scalable or cost-effective; hence they created the demo engineering team. 

They are tasked solely with providing the sales teams with the collateral they require to demo the product. To personalize the demo across all products and SKUs, they need technical proficiency for various verticals, segments, and use-cases. 

Demos are an essential part of the sales process. Unfortunately, the execution doesn’t always go that smoothly. Some errors that can occur are:

  • Sales demo environments go down during a demo, and your prospect sees nothing but bugs.
  • New unimplemented features arrive, but the sales team is unable to demo them right away.
  • Your sales team doesn’t have personalized data for prospective clients and relies on one-size-fits-all demo videos that do not apply to all prospects.

Demo engineering teams can create customized demos for each client. Companies like Salesforce have a demo engineering department with over a hundred team members, but that’s excessive! Usually, this is a team consisting of a handful of sales engineers and product marketers. 

Can software do the job of sales and demo engineers?

If sales and demo engineers are outside of your budget or scope, there are software solutions that can fill the gap and provide your sales reps with the tools they need to succeed.

Walnut codeless platform allows you to create interactive and personalized product demos for each prospect – and to save 35% of your development workforce. In addition, you can collect insights on your demos usage to optimize further your sales process. Oh, and did we mention that the demos are failure-free? Since the demos are hosted in the Cloud, there’s no risk of bugs and version updates – that can ruin the show. 

In other words, by using Walnut, your demos will appear as smooth and efficient as they would have with a qualified technical engineer behind the mouse. 

Click “Get Started” to find out more.

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