When you think of tech salespeople and you think of engineers, you think of two completely different kinds of people, or you think of people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. These two titans of tech and business may have very different personalities, but they have one thing in common that sets them apart from everyone else: they are engineers who can sell. But what is it about this combination of seemingly opposite skills that makes it such a recipe for success?
In this article, we will look at why those in tech sales with an engineering background succeed in tech business.
The best salespeople are great listeners. They listen closely to what customers need, their complaints, and their suggestions, and then formulate strategies to meet those needs and incorporate suggestions. By talking less and listening more, great salespeople become more in tune with the market.
Engineers tend to lean towards the introverted side of the personality spectrum. That might seem to be a disadvantage in sales, but not so. Introverts are known to be better listeners, which actually gives them an advantage over many motormouth salespeople.
Most purchases are not impulse buys like candy at a checkout line or hot stocks on Wall Street, especially in tech. Clients take time to make sure that they are making the right purchasing decision. This is why processes in tech sales are very important and why many salespeople fail. They want to skip straight to the sell-sell-sell phase. The sales process is a series of steps that starts with understanding what the customer needs. It ends with the salesperson providing solutions to meet those needs. It’s also about repetition.
Engineers understand the importance of processes because processes are at the core of most engineering fields. They are used to following processes to achieve goals, and they know that repetition is vital to ensure processes are streamlined and effective.
GREAT PROBLEM SOLVERS
Sales and engineering are both about solving problems. The difference is that engineering focuses on finding solutions to problems related to the product, and sales focus on finding solutions to customers’ problems. It is very easy for engineers to switch because they spend years learning how to solve really difficult problems. They learn how to think before they act. This allows them to ask the right questions and to consider and implement feedback accurately. They are excellent at matching problems with appropriate solutions.
SOLVING PROBLEMS BOTH WAYS
What makes engineers great at tech sales isn’t just their ability to find solutions to customers’ problems, they are also great at finding a solution to the product’s problems. In fact, many engineers are actively involved in product design. This means that they can quickly jump in and get their hands dirty to find a fix or iron out bugs. Engineers know the product that they’re selling inside and out and few people have better product knowledge than those involved in creating it. And the more a salesperson knows about a product, the easier it is to sell it.
The in-depth understanding of the product gives salespeople with engineering backgrounds another advantage. Since they know what each bit of the product does, they can identify features of the product that customers may find useful. This enables them to find a good customer fit and can greatly improve their relationship with the client, thereby helps building trust. In the same breath, sellers with an engineering background succeed because they also understand the limits of the product. Because of this, they don’t make promises to customers that don’t live up to expectations.
In engineering, every tiny detail counts, and thus engineers are trained to pay really close attention to detail and fine-tune products or processes to ensure optimal performance. This expert-level attention to detail can be a big advantage in sales. It allows the engineer-salesperson to identify tiny details about the potential customer’s needs that a ‘regular’ salesperson might miss. But it doesn’t stop there. Since engineers are so attuned to processes, they can easily make changes to streamline sales, whether it’s by optimizing processes or improving products. By constantly analyzing the situation, they can better understand where they stand in the tech sales process, apply MEDDPICC , and conclude what should be their next move.
TRAINED TO KEEP UP WITH TECH
The cutting edge of tech is about finding opportunities or improving on existing products or technology. To do their jobs well, engineers need to keep up with the latest tech and product design. And since engineers are able to understand the more technical side of things, they tend to grasp new tech faster and spot opportunities that ‘regular’ salespeople might miss. The great advantage of this is that they are able to identify one of the holy grails of sales, solutions to problems that customers don’t know that they had. They can then take this and capitalize on it.
ENGINEERS ARE GREAT LEARNERS
Tying in with staying on top of tech is engineers’ natural curiosity. Engineers are interested in how things work and why they work. They love learning about new things and developing new skills. Over the years, they build up a treasure trove of knowledge that can be tapped into when faced with a particular problem. Engineers are also confident in their knowledge, so they can answer questions from potential customers and authoritatively make suggestions. What’s more, their eagerness to learn also makes them fast learners. They are also open to things like sales training and coaching to improve their knowledge and sales skills.
UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF TEAMWORK
Engineers often work in teams because they understand the valuable contribution that other engineers can make. This can be a certain specialist skill or simply seeing a problem from a different angle. Similarly, tech sales is a collaboration of many stakeholders. By understanding both the technical and the sales side of the process, sellers with an engineering background can make teamwork between departments easier. The result is better communication, better products, and better identification and solving of customers’ problems.
Best-selling author and entrepreneur Richie Norton famously said, “Doers are not average because average people don’t do.” This is exactly what sets people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos apart from their contemporaries. They are not only engineers who can sell, but they are also both doers, and they are anything but average. But why are doers so successful?
Doers have clear goals and are motivated to achieve them. They thrive on results, but they also know when to quit and move on to something else. Doers understand the balance between quality and quantity but favor quality. They surround themselves with like-minded people and soak up their knowledge and energy while being great practical teachers themselves. One of the most important traits of doers is that they know that criticism is crucial for self-development, but not to take criticism personally. Most of all, are confident in their ability. They go out, and they DO!
Elon Musk is famous for having in-depth technical conversations with engineers and then turning around and selling his futuristic vision to customers and investors. This ability to effortlessly go from tech guru to sales superstar is one of the things that makes him so successful. He is proof that engineers who can sell are destined for success, and while not everyone can be Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, their success serve as great motivators. The world needs more engineers, but it needs engineers who can sell even more. The great thing is that it is easy to learn how…
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