Sales Engineering is a young, but important discipline. In order to increase the knowledge level, sales engineering specific research needs to be done. Selling in an engineering context is different from B2B selling, although a lot of known B2B sales knowledge can be applied. This means that a lot of facts, rules and basic laws still need to be explored.
Teaching sales engineering needs to be based on facts and scientific findings rather than experience and best practice, but little sales engineering research is published up to now.
AASE members are well placed to establish relevant sales engineering research due to their rich industrial experience and connections. Only a strong industrial background can lead investigations to meaningful topics and valuable findings.
The main topics of research are:
- sales skill related subjects
- business relationship related subjects
- sales management related subjects
The sales skills needed in sales engineering are more fact based than in other sales disciplines, as the technical properties of the sold products need to be discussed, agreed and communicated to the own company. So, deep product knowledge is an essential requirement of the sales process and is a great part of sales success. The ability to understand customer’s needs and to apply the company’s technology advantageously is another success factor.
On top of sheer product thinking, business related thinking is important, too. Market sizes on national and international scales, market strategies and international technological trends need to be mastered by the sales engineers successfully.
Finally the management of sales engineers is different from the management of mostly commercially thinking persons, engineers like to think object related, not so much person related. Managing sales engineers has to take the personalities into account.
As little sales engineering related facts are written down and commonly available, we welcome case based descriptions of business relations and selling situations as the start of knowledge build up.
National and European Research
Today, research programs are always orientated to a specific domain such as technology, marketing, management, social aspects or others. Sales engineering related questions are often “hybrid” questions with technical and marketing issues. Unfortunately, such hybrid research projects are in most cases not eligible in any of the specialised research programs. Therefore, AASE tries to get into contact with national research agencies as well as with the European Commission in order to get a wider funding for possible sales engineering related hybrid research projects.
A first research proposal has been submitted to the European Commission by four AASE members and other academic, industrial and institutional partners. It aims at revealing the current and future requirements of sales engineers from the side of the industry within Europe.
Based upon these results, sales engineering teaching and research can be better directed to widely agreed topics.