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A Study of the AE/SE Relationship

Positive AE/SE Relationships

At Reprise, we’re creating software to help SaaS companies build and deliver the perfect demo. For that reason, it’s important for me to really, truly understand how demos work.

A good starting point is: Who does the demo?

Is there an easy process that companies use when deciding who will give their demo? Is it the AE or the SE? Both? How about the AE on the first call then the SE going deeper on the second? Is it like good cop/ bad cop?

Who decides? And how do they decide? Honestly, it feels like a decision you never really “make,” but rather just settle into overtime. It reminds me of the AE/BDR relationship. Yes, there are qualification and conversion rules, but these humans are sorting the rest out live while bumping into each other in the trenches. So, while your poor AEs and SEs are also ‘figuring it out’ – here’s what good looks like.

Here’s What Good Looks Like


Luckily for me, I got to observe Julian Mackrel and Devin Liu in action.

Devin was an AE, now a team leader, and has always been a total team player. He makes the time to coach his teammates and he succeeds alongside them, rather than rushing ahead of the group to reach selfish goals. Devin is a natural leader and a trusted veteran, and of all the reps I’ve worked with, I’ve never seen anyone else so determined to put the team first.

It’s no surprise he formed a friendship so quickly with Julian.

Julian also started as an account exec, and then shifted to SE around the end of his first year with the org. The first thing I noticed about him was his selfless willingness to troubleshoot and help his peers. When Julian joined, we were just a small startup, and the SE role still hadn’t been filled. But Julian was versatile, and he stepped up and acted in that capacity until we decided to make it official.

Together- Julian and Devin formed an incredible combination. They win deals, they progress the department objectives, they rally the troops, they help establish and enforce new rules, and they’re a lighthouse for the rest of the team to follow.

What made them so special?

The real reason Julian and Devin are my favorite AE/ SE pair is two-fold:

  1. Their combined win rate.
  2. Their self-appointed position as “locker room leaders.”

All Julian and Devin’s results were a combined team effort. And let me just say, I believe win rate (especially maintained over time) is the purest measurement in sales. No combination of employees was more capable of consistently taking down deals than this pair.

In terms of helping me build a business essentially from scratch, having two successful and experienced teammates willing to try out new ideas from me was paramount in successfully launching all new initiatives.

Up Next

Julian and Devin showed me a lot about how an effective AE/ SE duo works in the field. Most importantly, these two worked on the basis of a very close friendship and genuine respect for one another.

If you’re part of a fantastic AE/SE duo, please let me know. I’m looking for more partnerships to study!