Product Management helps sales channels, Sales engineering helps individual Sales people.
What is a product manager?
A product manager is responsible for the business of the product.
- Listens to the market
- Documents market requirements
- Articulates the product positioning
- Defines the process for getting the product to the market.
What is a Sales Engineer?
Sales engineers are the technical glue of a technical sale, they act as the sales team’s technical encyclopedia during the sale, representing the technical aspects of how the product solves specific customer problems. They perform technical presentations for the product.
Problem: Sales people don’t like the SEs.
How often have you heard sales people requesting a specific SE or product manager because the others are ‘worthless’? In many cases, it’s because the SE role has changed over recent years from product specialists to technical generalists. Many sales people start using a particular SE and want to use them for all calls.
Problem: Sales people want the best SE
Sometimes product managers are forced to support an individual sales rep even when qualified SEs are available. Why? The rep wants a better title on the call to impress the evaluator for one reason or another. ‘You’re so special I brought the product manager all the way out here.’ (I have yet to find a customer who actually cares. They just want someone who can show how the product solves their problem.)The perception is that sales engineers are standard resources while product managers are special resources.
Phil Heft – Sales and Marketing Memcon – email@example.com