Pre-sale engineer - personal sales psychologist or a person at the border of money and technology
One of the rather interesting vacancies in the IT labor market is the position of a pre-sale engineer (unfortunately, a pre-sale manager is often written). And very often in relation to this profession you can hear the question: "What is included in the terms of reference of this specialist?" This post, in the form of one ordinary working day, will tell you what and how a pre-sale engineer does and why it is incorrect to call him a pre-sale manager.
Before diving into a workday, I suggest that you look at the average list of responsibilities from job profiles for the position of pre-sale engineer from the headhunter site.
- Manage sales support projects from a potential transaction to preparing a quotation and signing a contract;
- Conduct analysis of technical requirements, customer problem areas. Develop and propose optimal solutions in accordance with the analysis;
- Carry out an analysis of the cost of the proposed solution / service and the use of appropriate price models;
- Work in a team with technical specialists and sales managers.
Immediately make a reservation: in the description I take the current day (April 2, 2018, Monday) with its main current and new projects / tasks. And most importantly, all this is perfectly applicable to any day of the week, and sometimes even to weekends.
So, Monday. The day promises to be difficult, not because it's Monday, but because today the results of participation in the tender for the supply of switching equipment to a large customer should be summed up and the stage of “anti-objection” does not want to end, and every 2-3 hours you have to get in a rapier and in a beautiful lunge, give an injection in the direction of competitors, answering another pack of questions. And it seems from the outside that here the task comes down to two things:
- Find the pros of your decision
- Find the disadvantages of competing solutions
However, in the word "competitors" the plural transforms the simple task of comparing two solutions into a real hell of digesting datasheets of manufacturers and technical comparison of all solutions, and it should also be noted that from the initial information about competitive solutions you are only given information about vendors, but not about models , and this sends you again to the ToR for the competition, where you first select the optimal solution for the ToR, and then you can already compare the key points of the decisions. But in fairness, I want to note that by this day this work has been done and the matter remains very small:
- Open sites of 5 vendors;
- Open a blank of 30 tabs of datasheets (6 different models of equipment in one project at different network levels);
- And now you can safely compare (well, within those 15 minutes that the Customer gave you an answer).
But the most ridiculous thing in this situation is that the plans for the day did not even work out a given solution, since last week you thought that having written a comparative analysis of the decisions in 4 sheets, once and for all, put all the points.
In the meantime, here is what was in the plans for Monday (the calculation from my diary is given):
- To complete the technical and commercial proposal for the construction of ICT infrastructure of a small plant:
- describe the decision to build a telephony;
- prepare an estimate of the cost of the solution;
- prepare a table of basic technical requirements.
- Prepare an alternative telephony solution to reduce the cost of the project;
- Work out a solution based on Cisco ISE;
- Discuss with the customer and adjust the core redundancy solution based on new input data (make changes to the TCH).
And so, while from the very beginning of the morning you did a comparative analysis, kept a to-do list in your head, time was ticking inexorably, and after pressing the treasured send button, after solving the first task, you pay attention to the Inbox folder, and there are 2 unread ones messages. And here, let's recall that we are recommended by the books “Manage Your Time”, “Digital Diet” and other books from the category of personal effectiveness: “... do not pay attention to new incoming tasks until you complete the current task.” Ok, so we do. And just trying to take on the tasks planned for the day, either on the phone - either in Telegram or in Whatsapp - a message comes from the sale (and when the sale needs you as the last breath of air, believe me, it can even write to a dead iphone, and a battery will find the last strength in himself to show you a notice): “Colleague, you've seen? An urgent need to answer the customer! "
And if we again resort to books and their recommendations, we simply ignore instant messengers. And now you are already immersed in writing TCH, but at that moment the same sale runs up to you, however the hanging question sharply changed its wording: “Have you already called the customer and sent the edited specification?” Unable to resist the
In this formulation, I really like the words "main" position on the project. The life cycle of most large projects is approximately 3 months or more. At least 5-10 people usually puff over such a project, and all the solutions laid down are usually basic, even extremely necessary, so that the equipment can simply be turned on and tied up, but this is already an ideal option. Given all these factors, as well as evaluating the specification and availability of network core equipment, aggregation, a large number of access equipment and the average price of one piece of hardware at $ 7,000 in the GPL, it is very difficult to single out the main positions. And you try to convey it to the manager in exactly the same form. After 5 minutes of listening to an emotional outburst about the fateful project of the whole life of the company, about that while office workers are sitting in varnished sneakers and do nothing, the salesmen are digging the ground in a clean field, you understand that it is at such moments that the Pre-sale engineer becomes not the sale’s technical right hand, but his personal psychologist, who catastrophically quickly needs to find words of comfort , inspiring not only to calm down, but also to believe that the deadline of 14:00 is unrealistic, that the specification will be made only when at least there is a squeeze from the design documentation, which includes the above iron, and at the same time lay s in it, as in the movie "The Beginning", the idea that for you, this problem is not just a priority, but the mission of your life. And since the company has more than one manager, you can imagine how many such missions you have. that it is precisely at such moments that the Pre-sale engineer becomes not the technical right hand of the sale, but his personal psychologist, who catastrophically quickly has to find words of comfort that inspire not only to calm down, but also to believe that the deadline of 14:00 is unrealistic, that the specification it will be done only when there is at least a squeeze from the project documentation, which includes the above iron, and at the same time lay in it, as in the movie "Beginning", the idea that for you this task becomes not just a priority, but your entire mission Ms. know. And since the company has more than one manager, you can imagine how many such missions you have. that it is precisely at such moments that the Pre-sale engineer becomes not the technical right hand of the sale, but his personal psychologist, who catastrophically quickly has to find words of comfort that inspire not only to calm down, but also to believe that the deadline of 14:00 is unrealistic, that the specification it will be done only when there is at least a squeeze from the project documentation, which includes the above iron, and at the same time lay in it, as in the movie "Beginning", the idea that for you this task becomes not just a priority, but your entire mission Ms. know. And since the company has more than one manager, you can imagine how many such missions you have. 00 - it is unrealistic that the specification will be made only when there is at least a squeeze from the project documentation, which includes the above iron, and at the same time lay in it, as in the movie "Beginning", the idea that this task is not easy for you priority, and the mission of your life. And since the company has more than one manager, you can imagine how many such missions you have. 00 - it is unrealistic that the specification will be made only when there is at least a squeeze from the project documentation, which includes the above iron, and at the same time lay in it, as in the movie "Beginning", the idea that this task is not easy for you priority, and the mission of your life. And since the company has more than one manager, you can imagine how many such missions you have.
All this time you kept in mind the topics of those two remaining messages, where in one task it turned out to be just re-reading the TK (25 pages) and finding evidence why it is better not to go to this tender, since everything has been “stolen” before us, and the second letter was the vendor’s answer to the technical question about the equipment that you should have given the customer by Wednesday morning last week (and by the way for some vendors, this indicator can be equated to lightning fast).
And now, having beaten off these tasks by one o'clock in the afternoon, you can already start realistically planned tasks. Of course, during this time you have more than once been distracted by other projects, but to be honest, the Pre-sale engineer’s work cannot be changed: if everything is clear on the horizon, then someone has stopped digging the ground in a clean field, and this song is worse all.
And it would be possible to describe everything that you will encounter even before the end of the working day, but I won’t cheat, you can take the working day with you home, and often not because you want it, but because to select those or you have to read and read other decisions, going far beyond those that you are familiar with and have already encountered. Sometimes it seems that managers really believe that Pre-sale knows the equipment of all vendors about A to Z, considering, of course, any directions, as well as from memory, it can call the price list price, the closest competitor, and, of course, the level discounts.
And no matter how you try to reduce the flow of incoming information, no matter what time management books I read, the work of a pre-sale engineer is very much built on a client / project manager / line of business engineer, and any link in this chain can easily and simply rebuild your plans not only for 1 day, but even for a week.
Finishing this working day, I can definitely say that it was a good, productive day, with two unfinished tasks. But the choice - to do these 2 tasks at night or reschedule for tomorrow - will depend only on your skill as a psychologist and communication skills with sales.
Sometimes in the description of the duties of a pre-sale engineer you can find the item “equipment setup”, and here I would like to note that maybe at first, as part of the trial period, you will be able to touch the good old pieces of iron, but after a while you will encounter equipment only in datasheets on manufacturers' websites, and sometimes, as a bonus, you can even watch the delivery of this equipment in boxes within the project and, if the equipment configuration engineer takes selfies with this equipment, then it’s possible but even see almost a live piece of metal.
But what you really have to work with is (average statistics are also given):
A laptop is not just a laptop, this is your life partner, well, almost like a wife / beloved girl, with the only difference being that you choose flowers for your soulmate on March 8 and decide to take a bouquet for 1500 or all the same for 2000 rubles, and in the matter of choosing an SSD drive for a laptop, you don’t bathe, and you stop at 8 in choosing between 6,000 or 8,000 thousand.
Outlook is a terrible dream of a pre-sale engineer. The average number of work letters per month is from 600 to 1000, namely workers, but if you count with advertising and reminders, it can reach 1,500. and try not to sort such mail for at least a week.
Excel - there will be so many of it in your life that over time, all project management systems, time managers will seem insignificantly powerless to you before the power of Excel, and you will write some of the things right there. The average number of rows processed in the tables with descriptions of positions, part numbers, quantitative indicators, as well as input and retail prices is approximately 4000 lines, but I emphasize that the average value from the maximum depending on the number and scale of projects can differ significantly.
Word is the second important tool in which you will hang, and hang for a long time, making out:
- Technical and commercial offers;
- Technical specifications;
- Development concepts;
- Test procedures;
- Comparative analysis of solutions;
- And many other documents.
The manufacturer’s configurator is an excellent tool that helps you quickly select solutions, get some kind of project cost estimate. Unfortunately, for all vendors, these configurators are very different, both in quality and in content, which in turn can become a very dangerous tool that you seem to trust completely (because the manufacturer cannot take this and make a mistake), but in fact, you make a mistake in the project that costs money. And the best bunch of engineers is the manufacturer’s configurator and, of course, the ordering guide.
Well, the most important tool in your work is a search engine, in which you will spend a lot of time searching for various infrastructural integrated solutions, but you will spend even more time searching for a party number for the only position in the specification that is intended for the project it may be completely useless.
Having read the article up to this point, one generally gets the impression that one needs to be a masochist in order to go to work as a pre-sale engineer, and perhaps this is true, but it is clear that it can be noted that even in this work there are a lot of pluses. I note, perhaps, the main ones:
- Work with a team of professionals in their field, and just with great people;
- Each new project is a completely new experience, knowledge, tasks;
- And, probably, the coolest moment is the moment of victory in the project, and the more difficult the pre-sale stage was, the more you get pleasure.
*** I forgot to answer, so why is it still not a pre-sale manager, it’s all simple, if the pre-sale engineer in projects is more interested in choosing technical solutions and by pure chance he just knows the depth of the discounts, this does not make him a manager, but let's be clean, managers do not make 1/5 of what is described above, but no one writes on hh: “We are looking for loafers”;)