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2018 is proving to be a year of tremendous growth for WP Engine. This exciting time means that we will be looking to hire new employees across all organizations. Are you a good combination of tech-savvy and business-oriented? Sales Engineers play a key role at WP Engine. My name is Edmund Turbin, a Sales Engineer at WP Engine’s London office, and this blog post should help clarify, what a sales engineer is, who is suited for the role, and how to get started in sales engineering at WP Engine.

What is a Sales Engineer?

A Sales Engineer is a hybrid role that combines sales acumen and business skills with technical engineering knowledge, which can be pivotal to winning deals in the sales process. Technical Sales is a factor when a company is selling products that have an element of discovery that is needed in order for the customer to make a sound purchasing decision. Sales Engineers are leveraged in the sales process when deals are complex and a solution will need to be uncovered in order for the deal to be realized.

What do Sales Engineers do?

A Sales Engineer functions as a technical liaison between customers, sales reps, customer success managers and internal departments like Product, Marketing, Legal and others in order to find the best possible solution fit to suit a customer’s needs and requirements. Technical sales involve having a deep technical knowledge and being able to articulate expertise to all levels of audiences – anywhere from developers, marketers to CTOs.

 What is the day to day responsibilities of a Sales Engineer?

  • Technical sales discovery
  • Customer meetings and discussions
  • Prototyping solutions
  • Demonstrating a Proof of Concept (POC)
  • Presenting solutions and options to stakeholders
  • Assisting with questions in order to educate and advise sales representatives and customers
  • Training internal and external stakeholders on product, processes and new technology
  • Collaborating with many different teams across a company in order to identify customer needs or future product opportunities
  • Answer questions about technology and information security as part of the purchasing process
  • Assisting Sales teams with responses to Request For Proposal (RFP)/Request for Information (RFI)

What makes it cool to be a Sales Engineer at WP Engine?

One of the best parts of working as a Sales Engineer is the close proximity and involvement that we have with the WordPress community. Being a part of the regional and local WordPress community is rewarding and helps to understand the impact of what we do at work. It’s great to meet people that actually work on the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform and it is insightful to hear how important we are to the success of developers, agencies, freelancers and enterprise organizations alike.

 What is it about Sales Engineering that makes it interesting?

As a Web Developer early on in my career, I never imagined that I’d end up working on a Sales Team as my career progressed. I love the challenge of starting with an idea or concept and then putting it all together to be executed as code on a website. As I’ve grown, I learned that working with technology and being technical doesn’t always need to involve hands-on coding. In fact, it can be very challenging to discuss complex subjects in a way that is simple enough for everyone to understand. This is one of the key traits of a successful Sales Engineer.
Developers are commonly stereotyped as people who can’t or don’t communicate well with others. This is often not true and there are many developers who are excellent at verbalizing technical ideas and concepts. What’s even better is a technical person who can explain something technical to a non-technical audience.

 How did I make the leap to technical sales?

I’ve worked for sales-savvy tech companies where the sales team had a strong influence on product features and roadmap. During this experience, it became clear that sales reps can benefit from someone with technical skills and knowledge in the sales process. Even technically skilled sales reps can benefit from a technical expert working in tandem throughout the sales process to close a deal. Sales Engineers provide solutions that address concerns and act as trusted advisor to the customer. Sales Engineers function as the go-to person when there are technical questions that need to be answered in depth and detail. They can either answer or find an answer from the appropriate source to satisfy a customer’s query.

What is Pre-Sales?

Pre-Sales involves discovery of technical requirements and business needs in order to create a vision of possible solutions that will work for the customer. Often times a Sales Engineer will go through a discovery process with technical stakeholders so they can get detailed information about the client’s needs after a business discovery process has been completed. After technical discovery is done, a Sales Engineer can move on to understand potential solutions and build out a Proof of Concept which demonstrates how a solution can be executed when needed.

What are the most exciting aspects of being a Sales Engineer?

  •  Having a direct impact on revenue and being able to track your efforts to understand the actual value of the work you do.
  • As a Sales Engineer, you need to stay on top of your skills and train up on areas of knowledge you want to improve upon. Sales Engineers go through a process of continual education in order to stay current and relevant in their field.
  • Showing what you know. Often times Sales Engineers present technical topics in order to educate internal teams and customers as well.
  • Becoming an industry expert by speaking at events and conferences. Sales Engineers possess the unique combination of being able to understand technical topics, breaking down complexity into bite-sized chunks, all while catering to the audience that is being addressed.
  •  Travel to meet customers face-to-face. I’ve had unique and exciting opportunities that have allowed me to see many places I never expected to go. Being a Sales Engineer has taken me on business trips throughout Europe, which is something I’ve always wanted to experience.

What are some challenges?

One of the most difficult things about Sales Engineering is understanding how not to get too deep into the weeds with technology. As techies, we all love to talk shop and get into the fine details, but Sales Engineers need to realize they are supporting the sales process and contribute towards driving revenue for their company. It’s extremely important to help solve issues and propose solutions, but equally important to know when to focus on business and not get caught up in hands-on development work. It’s easy to get sidetracked and often times tempting to dig in, but it is also important to know when another member of your team will be better suited to carry out longer term development or support initiatives.

How do I get started?

Could you see yourself pursuing a career as a Sales Engineer? WP Engine is currently looking for a Sales Engineer at our London office. Think you’d be better suited for another role? We are hiring across all organization in our Limerick, Brisbane, London, and Austin locations. Check out our careers page for more info.