I had the pleasure of talking to Stephanie Madsen, Solutions Engineer at Chorus.ai, on our final episode of season one of the Demo Diaries podcast. We chatted about one of the most essential elements of being a good sales engineer – knowing what your partner’s pain points and vision of success look like so you can deliver a solution.
She started her career working in HR for 8 years at a small Chicago startup. Later in her time there, she started purchasing and implementing tech for the HR team and loved it. She began telling everyone in her HR network about it – she loved talking about tech and felt like her own sales agent. Finally, she decided to pivot to selling HR technology. With zero sales background, a former manager took a chance and gave her a role as a solutions consultant.
Approach to POC
Lots of companies offer proof-of-concept trials – in fact, 97% of SaaS tech companies do. But they have a really low success rate. She was determined to break that mold and see a high conversion rate. What they do differently at Chorus is this: the POC is not just a free trial where they send log-in credentials and let prospects fend for themselves. Instead, there’s truly a plan. They have check-in points, surveys, and more – it’s very hands-on, not set it and forget it. She is a partner for the full two weeks of the POC, almost like a member of the team.
Their approach to the POC process is highly attentive to their customers’ needs. They listen to them to find their problems and what they want to solve. Her customers’ success is her success as well. To do this well, she is excellent at communicating, responds quickly to prospect emails and calls, and pays close attention over the whole two-week period. She gets truly excited when customers see rewards from the Chorus technology.
How to identify a good partner
At Chorus, it’s truly an equal partnership. Stephanie doesn’t just pass along a log-in, she expects time and commitment from prospects over the two-week period. Both she and the prospect give up time to achieve success together. Prospects also need to have a problem that Chorus can solve for and then they work closely together with regular check-ins over those two weeks of the POC period.
Skills you need to succeed
To be a great sales engineer, lately leaders have been talking about having the perfect blend of business acumen and tech savvy. But if you’re really excellent at both, you’re a unicorn. Most sales engineers can have strengths in both areas but it’s not a perfect balance, – one side is stronger. That’s why putting together a well-rounded team is important. Then you can bring in the right resources for each meeting and audience. It’s ok to be better at one side than the other in presales.
Watch the complete episode here:
I’m an entrepreneurial marketer, recovering salesperson now heading up content and community at Reprise. Over the last 20 years I’ve almost exclusively founded software startups or was an early employee. In my spare time I love playing my guitar, learning about esoteric topics, and meditating.