What is an “SE” and why do you need one?

October 16, 2008

An SE is a Systems Engineer.

They come in two basic flavors “Pre” and “Post” Sales.

What’s the difference? The Pre Sale Systems Engineer meets with a Customer before the sale to find the business problem that needs to be solved by technology. They then propose & design a solution that will best meet the customers needs and budget. It is the Pre Sales SE’s job to handle both the technical sales cycle and proof of concept. The SE provides the “WOW Factor”. and instills confidence in the customer that his\her company can do what they propose. The SE must have integrity! A smart customer will keep asking questions until they hear a no. If all you hear is yes, yes, YES, then you should start to question if this is too good to be true (You know what they say about that). It’s better to give an honest no, then a deceitful yes. You ALWAYS pay for a deceitful yes in the not too distant future, and the cost is a bad reputation.

A good pre sale SE dresses well. He\She is part of the sales process and should dress accordingly. Some SEs will balk at this, they may say my technical ability is all I need. This is a common mistake made by many technical professionals, It holds them back in their career. We are business people first and technical people second. If you disagree you should stay in a post sale SE role. While a Post Sales SE still needs good people skills, their job is to implement, support, and troubleshoot the solution after the sale. A good post sale SE can not be over valued. They keep things running smooth, and allow the pre sale SE to move on to the next sales opportunity.

A post sale SE still needs to see the business side of what they do. They maintain the relationship with the customer’s IT Department. Once the copier gets connected to the network (and most of them do now) you must establish a healthy relationship with the IT department. The sales person can not generally do it. Why? Because IT people don’t trust sales people. They don’t speak the same language. A typical sale of a MFD (Multi Functional Device) involves a number of people, purchasing, operations, and IT at a minimum. They have a team of people with individual specialties put together to make a wise purchase. The “Copier” dealer is foolish if they don’t also bring in a team of specialists.

In a small dealership the pre & post sale SE may be one and the same. They should have some network certifications. Some of the most common ones are MCSE, CNE, Network+, CDIA+. You should ask what qualifies this person as an SE. Is it just an honorary title because he’s the guy at the dealership that knows the most about computers, or is it a title that they earned? As an educated consumer You should know which.

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh
VP \ Network Solutions


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