Who are Solutions Engineers? - Responsibilities, Challenges, and Importance
Solutions engineers in sales are like secret weapons in the tech world. The expertise they bring to the table bridges the gap between tech and sales teams through their unique perspective. They have an impressive ability to take complex technical problem and break it into understandable language for clients.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 6% growth in demand for solutions engineers over the next decade due to continued technological advances. But what benefits and challenges do they bring, and how do their roles and responsibilities differ? Throughout this blog post, we will cover everything. Let’s begin.
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Who are Solutions Engineers?
Solutions engineers are professionals who work in the presales team to provide technical support for software and hardware solutions. They assist clients in planning, designing, and implementing complex IT projects, considering the customer's existing system architecture.
They use their expertise to create detailed product demos and presentations that educate customers about the proposed solution. Through these engagements, solutions engineers help customers assess whether the product or service suits them and answer questions about its usage and capabilities.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Solutions Engineer
This specialized role requires a unique skill set and involves extensive collaboration with various teams to manage pre-sales and post-sales processes. Let's explore each one in detail.
1. Understanding and Crafting the Pre-sales Process
The solutions engineer is crucial in crafting the pre-sales process that helps build a client’s understanding of the proposed solution. Companies that deploy presales services in their sales process see an increase of up to 40-50% in the win and close rates.
By understanding the client’s strategy, objectives, and unique business challenges, the solutions engineer work with the sales team. This helps customize demos, presentations, and proofs of concept that showcase how the solution addresses these specific pain points.
Stripe's solutions engineers worked closely with businesses to understand their specific needs and help to integrate Stripe's payment processing solutions seamlessly into their existing infrastructure. If a company encounters a technical issue that prevents them from accepting payments, Stripe's solutions engineers can diagnose the problem and provide a customized fix.
As a result, Stripe has built a loyal base of customers who appreciate the company's commitment to providing world-class technical support and solutions engineering services.
2. Assessing the Potential Clients' Business Needs & Mapping them to the Product Features in Discovery Calls
Discovery calls help the solutions engineer assess the client's needs, technical requirements, and other critical information to propose a solution. This involves diving deep into the client’s business data, process requirements, system integrations, and any restrictions present, among others.
A key skill of Sales Engineers (SEs) is their ability to identify the unexpressed needs of buyers. Through careful questioning and keen listening, SEs can identify these needs, verbalize them clearly for buyers and developers, and develop a tailored solution. Their technical knowledge allows them to assign a “technical name” to the product and show how to implement it.
Salesforce is an excellent organisation that mastered the art of discovery. During the discovery conversations, Salesforce representatives can assess the customer’s situation, identify opportunities for improvement and recommend the best product features for them.
By helping customers determine which features are most important and how they could be used most effectively, Salesforce ensures each customer has the right solution for their unique challenges.
4. Researching and Generating Solutions to Address Client Challenges
Once the solutions engineer has analyzed the client's needs, they work on generating viable solutions to address the client's challenge. This could involve customizing existing solutions, codifying new techniques, or building entirely new solutions from scratch.
By being proactive and working to identify solutions to problems, the client receives optimal solutions faster.
5. Manage the Onboarding, Implementation, Integration, Configuration, and Customization of New or Existing Customers
The process of onboarding, implementation, integration, configuration, and customization is one of the most delicate customer-facing processes in software development. Here, the solution engineer takes a critical role by providing technical guidance on how clients should apply and integrate the software solution into their existing systems.
The process involves testing, training, and configuring the phases of the product to match the client’s unique requirements.
6. Collaborating with Technical, Development, and Sales Teams
Solutions engineers need to be effective communicators and work collaboratively with various internal teams to ensure that customer needs are met. By collaborating with development teams and helping them understand requirements, the solutions engineer can ensure that the right solutions are delivered to the appropriate clients for maximum customer satisfaction.
For instance, Slack serves over 500,000 paying customers in over 150 countries. The solutions engineer at Slack works closely with the technical, development, and sales teams to ensure that the organization’s workflows remain. This role is integral in helping customers realize their business goals by automating various processes.
They collaborate with the technical team to ensure solutions are developed utilizing cutting-edge technologies while meeting customer requirements and internal standards. Moreover, with the Development team, they're responsible for developing and deploying new integrations and features. Lastly, along with the sales team, they boost product sales by demonstrating value to prospective customers through live product demonstrations.
7. Establish Product Demo Agendas and Prepare Software Demo Presentations
Product demos help demonstrate how software solutions work to potential customers. 92% of revenue professionals say that demo is important in their GTM strategy. A solutions engineer’s role is to determine the appropriate agenda that highlights the product's best features within the available time.
They prepare the software demo presentations and analyze the outcome by assessing customer feedback and managing any necessary customizations before presenting to the customer.
8. Assessing Risk and Proposing Mitigation Strategies
Numerous risks are involved in implementing new software, and the solutions engineer should always consider factors the client may not have considered. They should analyze risk, highlight potential levels of risk, and suggest mitigation strategies that ensure minimum damage in system failures, data loss, and downtime.
9. Assisting in the Negotiation of Service Agreements
The solutions engineer is essential in developing contracts based on clients’ requirements, pricing models, service level agreements, and other considerations. They work to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the final draft and the solution meets the client's specifications.
10. Ongoing Support After the Sales Process is Completed
It is estimated that 60-70% of businesses sell to existing customers. The solutions engineer’s role does not stop after the sales process has ended. They continue to offer technical support, assist in solving technical challenges, and maintain existing customer relationships to ensure ongoing customer satisfaction.
11. Support The Saas Marketing Team When They Create White Papers, Guides, Webinars, And Other Materials
According to reports, 71% of B2B buyers have read a white paper in the past year for their purchasing decisions. The solutions engineer provides marketing materials that convey the value proposition of the proposed solution by providing relevant technical input. This includes white papers, webinars, guides, and other materials that help potential customers understand the solution’s architecture and features before purchasing it.
In addition to providing technical input for white papers, webinars, and guides about the proposed solution, the solutions engineer mostly contributes to the sales process. This includes creating and delivering presentations explaining how the solution meets customer needs and objectives.
HubSpot is a leading inbound marketing platform that creates comprehensive guides, webinars, and other informational materials. Notably, HubSpot invests heavily in research and development, particularly in annual surveys and reports, which are usually transformed into comprehensive white papers.
Yes! Solutions Engineer can definitely be considered a Salesperson. While their primary job is to provide solutions to customer problems, they need to understand the product or service being offered and be able to communicate its benefits and features to potential customers. They must also be knowledgeable about related services and products to offer appropriate solutions.
Solutions Engineers must have excellent people skills to build customer relationships by providing friendly and knowledgeable customer service. They must also be confident when presenting their solutions since this is often the deciding factor when convincing customers to buy. Furthermore, they may also be required to provide technical assistance during live demos and troubleshooting sessions.
All of these roles require an understanding of the sales process, making Solutions Engineers a integral part of the Sales Team.
Synonyms and Other Titles for Solutions Engineer
Initially, Solutions Engineers were referred to as Demo Engineers, tasked with providing technical demonstrations and showcasing products. Nowadays, they are often referred to as Sales Engineers or Technical Sales Engineers since their role includes offering technical solutions to clients and identifying client needs to present tailored solutions. In some instances, SEs are even referred to as Solutions Architects since they create solutions for their companies.
Many companies now require SEs to have a wide range of skills and knowledge outside the traditional demos and sales support scope. For example, some positions involve having a deep understanding of technology trends, being able to provide software training, having an aptitude for troubleshooting complicated technical problems, or having experience in project management.
As such, the roles have come to encompass more than just what was expected from a demo expert or sales consultant. This means that SEs can also be known as Technical Consultants or Solution Experts depending on the company's requirements. These roles go beyond providing product demos and offering technical sales support. They may even be called Product Specialists if their main responsibility is ensuring products run smoothly in customers’ businesses.
It is clear that the job titles associated with Solutions Engineering are ever-evolving and increasingly reflect the range of tasks expected from them.
The Importance of Having a Solutions Engineer on Your Sales Team
A solutions engineer is a valuable asset to any sales team due to their technical expertise and sales skills. These are six major reasons why your sales team needs a solutions engineer.
1. Streamlining the Complexity of Technical Solutions
One of the most significant advantages of having a solutions engineer on your sales team is that they can simplify the technical complexities of your product. When a sales rep speaks with a prospect, they may struggle to articulate your product's technical solutions. That's where a solutions engineer can step in and explain complex technical details in a way that's easy for customers to understand. This can help improve sales cycles, decrease implementation times, and increase customer satisfaction.
2. Creating Compelling Product Demos & Presentations
Solutions engineers help create compelling product demos and presentations that focus on the customer's core needs. They can speak to the features and technical capabilities of the product while also explaining how it can solve customer challenges. Compelling demonstrations help engage customers, pique their interest, and ultimately convince them to purchase your product.
3. Reducing Customer Onboarding Timeframes
Onboarding new customers can take a long time, especially when the product is complicated or has many technical components. With a solutions engineer on your sales team, you can streamline the onboarding process, ensuring customers receive the full value of your product as quickly as possible. This can lead to increased customer retention and advocacy and a better ROI.
4. Ensuring Quality Support During Pre-Sales & Post-Sales Process
A solutions engineer can provide valuable support during the pre-sales and post-sales processes. They can answer technical questions, provide demos and presentations, and help customers understand the product's value proposition. During the post-sales process, a solutions engineer can help with product implementation, provide training, and troubleshoot issues that may arise. Their involvement can help ensure a positive experience for the customer and increase the likelihood of repeat business.
5. Automated Sales Process Management
Solutions engineers help create an automated sales process that reduces manual labor, minimizes errors and ensures consistency across the sales team. They can be instrumental in developing new sales strategies, improving sales methodologies, and incorporating new technologies. By automating sales processes, you can focus on growing your business while knowing that the sales team is consistent and operational.
6. Enhancing Transparency to Foster Long-Term Relationships
Lastly, they can act as a translator between the customer and the company. As the ones who deeply understand the product, they can take technical aspects and simplify them for customers, making the product more accessible. This creates transparency and builds trust between the solutions engineer and the customer as the product is explained.
How to get the most out of your Solution Engineering Team?
We have already established that having SE’s co-drive the sales process in invaluable. But how to get the most out of this team?
Find individuals with the right combination of technical and soft skills needed for the job.
Ensure the solutions engineer can contribute to team-wide projects, such as designing full-fledged systems.
Make sure the solutions engineer can maintain a healthy balance between customer service and engineering responsibilities.
Make sure the solution engineers get the right onboarding before they make recommendations to the clients
How can Demo Automation solution Scale the Role of a Solutions Engineer?
Solutions engineers are an invaluable resource to the company, and their effective utilization is key to achieving maximum success. The software can be a powerful tool in scaling presales through automation.. It can make essential, but repetitive tasks more efficient so that solutions engineers can focus on tasks requiring human output.
The software allows creating on-demand demo libraries and enhances data analysis, allowing SEs to create better strategies. Furthermore, it enables rapid prototyping, allowing engineers to test different options quickly before spending time and resources on them.
For instance, Demoboost can be an excellent tool for presales teams to create demo galleries full of ready-to-use and customizable demos. This way, the revenue team won’t need to come back and ask for demos so often. It will allow the solutions engineer to concentrate on other deals requiring their attention, while giving the relevant support to each deal the company is working on.
With this solution implemented, SEs will own the sales narrative throughout the buying journey and ensure the demos remain engaging even without SEs presence. If you want to experience first hand how Demoboost can help improve your sales process, why not book a demo today? In just minutes, you’ll see how our platform can streamline your workflow while providing an exceptional customer experience, something no solutions engineer can do.