Engineers vs. Sales People
You know that table in the lunch room where all your engineers and sales people eat together, chatting and laughing? No? So, the engineers and the sales staff don’t meet in perfect harmony at your company? Well, you are not alone. The struggle in communication between engineers and sales people is far too common, which has been made obvious in this hilarious video.
To the defense of all you sales people out there, there is an equal amount of engineers and developers who has no idea about how sales works either. The products need to be sold for the engineers to get their paychecks in the end. Needless to say, each group is a very important part of a product company. The feeling of frustration between the two groups is not, however.
Let me know if this sounds familiar:
Salesman: I just came back from a meeting with the customer. They are just on the verge of buying our Tx-Truck, but they must have the new exhaust system. That's fine, right?
Engineer: Well...no. Our new exhaust system is not really compatible with the Tx-Truck.
Salesman: What? Why? Why am I hearing about this now?! Do you have any idea how important this deal is to the company!?
Engineer: It's in the documentation. Also, I wrote about this in our internal newsletter last month.
Salesman: I have not seen that part of the documentation and don't have time to read every update you guys send out. I get 100 emails a day!
Engineer: You should have thought about that before you promised the customer something we cannot deliver...
Salesman: *Grunts* This is what the customer wants! This is what we need to close the sale! How can it not work? It is virtually the same as the old one!
Engineer: In fact, the TTH-capacitor of the old truck uses a BHX-system of version 11 that...
Salesman: Let me stop you right there...What can we do to deliver the correct solution to the customer?
Engineer: *Seighs* Outside of promising the customer something we actually DO manufacture? Well, we can use the version 10.9 HHV-system and patch it with a nV-capacitor. That would probably solve it, but it will cost more and take us more time to manufacture.
Salesman: *Seights* Just solve the problem, you are the engineer, I will offer the customer a discount for the delay this will cause...
- The manager appears at the door
Manager: Discount?! What I am hearing about a discount? We can't offer any more discounts with our profit rate on this product. Didn't you read my post in the newsletter on how important it is that we maintain our profit rates? Next time, you will take the engineer with you to the next sales meeting!
Engineer & Salesman: Noooo!
Can you expect a salesman to have full, and constantly updated, technical product knowledge? In a perfect world that would, of course, be great but that would also take time from what sales people do best: Sell!
This frustration can be kept to a minimum if the sales people have a CPQ-tool that keeps the detailed product knowledge from the engineers at hand, while discussing the product with the customer. You will no longer need to put out fires, caused by delays and misunderstandings, with discounts. Instead, the sales people will be able to offer the products that you know you can manufacture for a price that you know is profitable.
Who knows, when the sales team and the engineers no longer have to argue about these kind of issues, there may actually be a day when you will walk into the lunch room and find them eating together!