Sales vs. Sales Engineering: What is a Sales Engineer?


As software continues to alter the sales and marketing funnel — with marketing increasingly eating sales — roles within these business functions will evolve.

What is a Sales Engineer?

A new emerging role is the sales engineer. They have your traditional core sales skills, such as the ability to quickly build rapport, but possess a greater level of technical expertise that enables them to communicate with engineers and eloquently describe their customer’s problems, architecture, or desired end state. Ultimately, the sales engineer must be able to strengthen rapport and orchestrate win-win solutions for customers that leverage their products and services.


A typical sales engineer is very educated about their products and how they solve their customers’ problems. They are well-versed in technology development in their industries, how their industries are evolving and where their company’s strategy fits in. In short, they should be able to combine this deep industry and technical knowledge with all of the customer-facing strengths of a salesperson. I believe that the sales engineer will play an increasingly critical role in all technical companies, whether they are a Fortune 100 company like Johnson Controls, which specializes in building efficiency solutions, and or a Data-as-a-Service company like NetWise.

Sales Engineering in the Real World

Here’s an example to bring this to life. A NetWise salesperson will typically make cold calls, respond to leads and set up meetings where they provide a high-level view of our company and explain how we would be a good solution for their needs. Once we get buy-in from a marketing decision-maker, we’d loop in their data scientist, CTO, chief data officer or VP of engineering to granularly discuss the tests they’ll run with our data and how they will analyze and structure the results. At that point, I would also join the conversation to educate their tech person on best practices for testing the data, validating results, and ensuring that they have all the information they need to make an educated decision on whether to move forward with us as a customer. We are happy to say that more than 95% of the prospects who test our data become customers because our data speaks for itself.

NetWise was one of the first companies to recognize the need for a sales engineer who can provide a bridge between the data science, engineering and sales teams, with the goal of driving the customer relationship forward and orchestrating win-win solutions. Our customers can access expertise on how the world’s best marketers are executing omnichannel campaigns and leveraging our data. They can simply schedule a meeting with me and my engineering team to talk through intricate scenarios for their marketing systems and receive professional advice that is proven to be effective for Fortune 1000 businesses, all free of charge.

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