Our own Reprise podcast, Demo Diaries, continues to break down the art and science of everything demo-related. In our third episode, Jorge talks to Brian Cody, the director of Global Sales Engineering at Clari, about what makes a good sales engineering manager.
Brian started his career at Salesforce as a sales development rep, where they were allowed to handle small deals on their own. He found that doing demos was helpful to the sales cycle in a few ways: helping him become a true product expert, and building more confidence and clarity in how Salesforce drove value.
Loving both the technical side and selling side of the business, he found out about sales engineering and has been on that path ever since. Now he’s leading the whole SE team at Clari.
Tips for SE Managers
Making the jump from being an individual contributor to a people manager is challenging in any field, sales engineering included. Brian worked to uplevel his management skills by some extensive reading (he recommends Radical Candor, to start). And he also found a mentor to coach him on how to coach others, since that’s a critical management skill.
As a sales engineering individual contributor, you’re an expert on individual deal cycles. But when you become a leader, you need to figure out how and where to insert yourself into deal cycles. You also need to learn to let go of a lot of components you owned as an IC. Plus, you need to be up to speed not just on the technical requirements of the product, but of the business requirements behind it as well – and Brian considers that the biggest challenge in the transition to leadership.
It’s vital to put your trust in your team and allow them to really run deals themselves – otherwise you’ll find you spend a whole demo talking. Then you’re free to act more as a strategic advisor to the organization. He helps leadership understand why deals aren’t going to come in on time, evaluate forecast accuracy, and help leaders do anything else they need to do. This builds trust for the SE team in the organization as a whole.
The Solution Fit System
Clari has implemented a system they call Solution Fit, where SEs gather info on prospects like what are the strategic growth initiatives for this company, why are they buying Clari, what’s their go-to-market, what’s the technical fit, and more. Before going into the deal, Brian can read this summary, get up to speed, and support the deal as needed.
Accurate data helps play a big role in effectively coaching individual SEs on the team. Brian looks at metrics like revenue performance, win rates by POC types and general win rates by SE, and other data points to measure what’s going on with each SE. What are their strengths, and where could they benefit from some coaching? And he takes feedback from leadership into account as well to balance the qualitative and quantitative info.
Don’t miss a thing: check out the full podcast to hear even more of Brian’s insights into SE management and demos.