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Taking a Sales Engineer from good to great

February 8th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Soft Skills

In the systems integrator world what are the qualities that differentiate the good engineers from the great engineers? On a whole, if you compare two engineers from integrators past a certain size you will find on the whole most everybody has the same access to training and learning materials.(On a side note many of my “competitors” have become great friends through attending countless classes together). This industry tends to attract the best in the brightest due to the cutting edge nature of the business. Across the board integrators have engineers that are armed with the latest training. People who are extremely bright and capable of designing and implementing cutting edge solutions.

So then I ask the question, why do some excel while others struggle in this industry?

The importance of soft skills

Given that most of the engineers in our industry have equal access to training, and roughly equal capacity to absorb that knowledge. The key differentiators in my opinion are the soft skills that the engineer is equipped with.

What is a soft skill? I break soft skills down into four key areas

1. The science of interaction – Understanding the fundamentals of non verbal verbal communication.

2. Organizational and workload management skills – Skills and systems that are the foundation of a “dependable” person.

3. Emotional / Organization intelligence – Reading peoples motivations and emotional influences on their decisions and actions.

4, Presentation skills – How to clearly communicate your ideas including to an audience of two or two hundred.

So much time and  effort is spent on attaining the latest certification, or attending the latest course that the fundamentals of human interaction can be overlooked. An engineer who masters these four areas will without a doubt differentiate themselves from their peers. Engineers who ignore these key fundamentals of human interaction can still be successful (I would reference many amazing engineers with Asperger’s syndrome) however they tend to gravitate to back-end engineering roles where interpersonal skills are not as critical to success.

Pulling it all together

As engineers, many of us focus on providing a technical accurate and detailed solutions. This alone is not always sufficient to position a specific solution or navigate to complicated waters of organizational interactions. By developing soft skills as well as technical skills you will you will become aware of organizational dynamics, as well as become better at recognizing whether you are on target for the technical level of your audience members.

Want to learn more?

Expect to see articles from me in the near future covering-

1. The science of interaction – Posted

2. Organizational and workload management skills

3. Emotional / Organization intelligence

4, Presentation skills

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