Entries from January 2008 ↓

Why can’t engineers sell?

Well, that title is offensive enough. As engineers and inventors, we’re in an envious position to sell our products and services with the technical know-how that only a select few have. A run of the mill salesman would kill to have our in depth product knowledge and problem solving skills. Heck, many of us helped invent whatever it is that our company is now selling.

So why is it that most companies hire professional salesmen (or sales engineers) over promoting us to that typically more lucrative position?

  • Are they afraid that our pocket protectors will wear holes in their company provided shirts?
  • Are we so backward that we’ll grossly offend their clients and send them dashing for the competition?
  • Do they think that we’re just not interested?

Typically companies have silos that people fit in, or should I say that they fit people in. “You, you’re an engineer, and you over there, you’re a salesman”. The problem is that in today’s world, engineers are relied on more and more to take an active role in the sales process – in fact we need to lead it many times.

I’m sure a lot of you out there view your corresponding sales team simply as order takers for all the hard work you do. And in fact, in many instances you’re exactly right – so why not step up and claim the sale yourself?

This gets to the core of this blog – how can we as engineers excel in the sales world?

The good news is that we’ll be putting together a structured method to follow to help ensure sales success. I’ve found that this method is attractive to most engineers because it fits our ‘divide and conquer’ attitude and leaves the ‘soft skills’ talk in the garbage where it belongs.

So back to the original question of why can’t engineers sell – well we can, and we’re going to learn here how to do it and how to do it so well that we’ll be faced with a choice of whether we want to be in the engineering or sales group.

Ask yourself this question – do you think it would be easier to learn how to sell or to learn how a material’s microstructure controls the mechanical properties – the answer is obvious and this is why engineers have a leg up on standard salesmen, we already understand the technical mumbo jumbo, we just need to package it better.

In fact we already conquered one of the 10 sales commandments, “Know thy product”. As you know, most salespeople never even come close to following this rule – they simply call you in to field all the technical sales questions; and then they take the order – and the commission.

Perhaps the title of this post should have been “Why don’t engineers sell?”

The answer to that question is much more involved and we’re going to tackle it frequently here in this blog. We’re going to lay out a structured sales approach based on the theory of following a structured method called Sales Funnel Selling.  We’ll dissect the sales process into easily digestible steps and become an expert at each step. When all those steps are put together, we’ll have a seamless and successful sales process that relies on honesty and integrity rather than cheesy sales tactics.

In the next post, we’ll define our sales funnel and begin to see how it applies to helping engineers sell.

Engineers Can Sell Blog

Well, we’re off and running – thanks for stopping by. I’m starting this blog to help engineers, inventors, and business owners navigate the intersection of engineering, technical sales and marketing. Although the tips and techniques will be applicable to most any product or service, my specialty is technical in nature, so it leads that the majority of posts will draw on that expertise. That being said, I’ve sold everything from retail with a sales cycle of minutes to advanced aerospace materials with a 5+ year sales cycle.

All too often we technical folks are thrust into sales positions without training and it’s an uncomfortable position to be in. It took me an MBA, several years, and countless books to become comfortable in this world, and it shouldn’t have. I hope to provide lessons learned from myself and others to all my fellow geeks and nerds so that we may all excel in this important aspect of any business.

In a nutshell, the focus will be on providing the readers with tools and practical theories to help them sell – both inside and outside their organization. An important word in the previous sentence is practical – if I ever go astray from this statement, feel free to blast me a harsh email telling me to get back on track and give you something that you can actually use.

A favorite technique of mine is applying retail and general consumer theories to the high tech world. So I’m sure that we’ll have many conversations about treating your customers like people and not big corporations.

I hope to create an interactive audience with comments and cross talk. And please let me know at any time if you have any suggestions on how I might improve this site and make it more usable for you.