Technical sales: an engineer’s view of the sales call

D, a friend of mine that I attended engineering school with (sometime last century), surprised me the other day by admitting that he had seen my recent blog post  about engineers and technical career paths. Here’s what he went on to share with me:

This Dilbert cartoon reminds me of the recent entry you had on The Engineer’s Dilemma.  One of our hybrid presales-product management guys sent it to the entire sales organization earlier today. He got no replies, at least no public ones. It cuts very close to the bone… 

Having myself been on the front lines working closely with sales and the technical team on various activities I know that lots of “engineering types” can relate to Scott Adam’s take on things. In my experience it is a bit of a one dimensional viewpoint, as good sales people do an awful lot of background activities qualifying prospects and preparing the ground work for the “technical sales presentation”.

However, in the hours-long “technical sales presentation”, when you’re going through all the nitty-gritty of the product features with a room full of their technical folk and you’re laying out the product road-map, and addressing the umpteenth technical “what if” question… and you spot your sales companion at the back of room next to the coffee bar chuckling with his counterpart, practicing his golf swing, and paying no attention to any of the technical crap you’re knee-deep in, it’s pretty easy to wonder — what the hell is he doing for his commission, especially when it makes my salary look like chump change?

And in that moment, if you’re being honest with yourself — you do have to admit that he does indeed have some pretty killer jokes!

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