“Make sure you build your network!” “Build your brand!” This is something we hear a lot throughout our professional careers.
But what does it REALLY mean?
This is completely valid advice. Many of us have trouble getting started.
As a Sales Engineer, your network will organically grow over time as a side effect of being a trusted advisor. Having access to professional social media platforms like LinkedIn are also game-changing in our hyper-connected world.
Where can you really start when your network has the potential to be so large?
Start where it counts!
Build a solid foundation inside your organization. This will help you navigate and solve complex challenges while paving the way to control your personal brand.
The most obvious initial area of focus for a Sales Engineer is to build great relationships with their Sales counterparts (Account Executives). Starting a new gig? Setting up 1:1s with your sales counterparts is a given. What we soon realize, however, is that in technology it often takes more than two to tango.
Establishing your brand and looking for ways to increase your visibility is important for your growing career.
Here are 5 other people you want to get to know in your own organization and ideas for getting to know them:
1. Sales Leadership: As a Sales Engineer, your role often goes far beyond supporting one or two sales reps. Sales Leadership communicates and enforces the gospel from their Executive leadership. They are tightly aligned to the overall sales organization’s strategic initiatives. Do you want to understand how you and your sales reps fit into the larger picture? Reach out to your Sales Leadership.
Pro Tip: If you can’t get on your Sales Leadership’s calendars the old-fashioned way with a 1:1, ask to join their team meetings where appropriate (if you aren’t included by default).
2. Product Marketing/Product Management: As a purveyor of content and creator of presentations, you will leverage many assets created by this team. Find yourself modifying or creating assets that are specific to your customers? This is a great opportunity to collaborate with this team!
Pro Tip: Set up time with a Product Marketer to show them what you’re doing. They are data-driven, and by sharing why and what you’re working on, you’re providing them with data!
3. Customer Success/Account Management: Depending on your alignment, you may or may not support this team directly. Regardless of if you do or don’t, they hold the keys to all the information about their customers. Customer testimonials are some of the most powerful assets you can leverage in your customer interactions and are indisputable powerhouses. It is helpful to have the ability to double-click and get more context into certain details when you are working on a particular opportunity.
Pro Tip: If you are having trouble locking downtime or attention, reach out and offer a quick product training or Q&A! You are the product expert, and oftentimes this team has burning product-related questions. It’s a great credentialing exercise.
4. Operations/Sales Enablement: Just like Sales Engineering teams, Sales Operations and Enablement teams run lean. As a product expert and a person who has the opportunity to work with multiple sales reps, Sales Engineers are often regarded as SME’s for these teams. Are you passionate about a particular winning sales theme or talk track around the product?
Pro Tip: Reach out to this team and fill them in. Ask them about their top priorities to see if there is an opportunity for you to serve as an SME on a particular topic or participate in an enablement event!
5. Professional Services/SI Partners: Regardless of how much of a product whiz you are (and you are!), there is nobody who knows it better than those who implement it for customers. These teams are extremely valuable and their knowledge is gold.
Pro Tip: Reach out to this team and offer the opportunity to do any sort of PreSales knowledge transfers, whenever possible. This will also have the pleasant side effect of providing a great customer experience during scoping sessions.
You are the captain of the rocket ship that is your career and ultimately, YOUR brand. While it may seem overwhelming to get started, there are actionable things you can do right away – and all it involves is getting to know a few key stakeholders in your network. Just like any relationship, business relationships are two-way. You have a lot to offer the individuals you meet with. And in return, you will learn much from your connections with these individuals. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
Hannah Bloking is a Sr. Worldwide GTM Manager at Amazon Web Services. She is a PreSales expert and enthusiast, having spent the majority of her career in sales engineering roles at various CX companies. Her experience working in and with companies ranging from small start-up to major enterprise fuels her passion for solving business challenges for companies of all backgrounds and sizes.