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The 3 Biggest Time-Killers for Solutions Engineers and How to Solve Them

As a Solutions Engineer (SE), you have a lot on your plate. You’re the expert technical resource for multiple Account Executives (AEs), all of whom rely on you to help them earn their prospects’ trust and demonstrate your product’s value. 


So how can you get it all done? How can you find time to execute tactical work (like making demos) and still be an available and responsive technical expert?


First, take a deep breath. Drop those shoulders, unclench that jaw and go outside if you can. Have you had any water today? Working fast and furious may feel like a good strategy, but it’s not healthy. You can’t be anyone’s go-to if you’re headed towards burnout, my friend.


Second, take an honest look at how you spend your day so you can start to identify your personal time-killers. Easier said than done, I know! But we’re here to help you get started. 


Below are what we’ve found to be the 3 biggest SE time killers, how you can solve them, and how you can level up your solutions engineering skills even further.


Time killer #1: Creating unique demos. 


SEs can easily fall into the trap of thinking they need to create a unique demo for every prospect that requests one. After all, if potential customers can see themselves using your product, they’re more likely to adopt it. So you (and your AEs) have been incredibly motivated to build out new, custom demos for all interested prospects. 


But demos have moved to the forefront of the customer journey, and because of this, demo requests are coming in hot. (TrustRadius’s Annual Research Report found that 58% of today’s B2B tech buyers say they rely on demos to arrive at a purchasing decision.)


It isn’t just later-stage prospects that expect to see a demo anymore; it’s also early-stage prospects. As a result, demo requests are multiplying like gremlins in a swimming pool, and you physically can’t make unique ones for every live sales demo call your AE makes. 


Solution: Map out the vertical markets your AEs are targeting, then look at the use cases for your product that exist within them. Once you’ve got that laid out, you can pre-make custom demos for each vertical. 


Your AEs can then use these pre-made, custom demos on calls with early prospects, showing them the specific value of your product as it relates to them without requiring a demo that was specifically made for them.


Level Up: Use a no-code demo creation platform to premake your live sales demos. SEs that use Reprise can capture their product experience with just a few clicks, cloning the code that renders the front end of their product and produces a safe, sandbox demo environment. 


Your AEs can easily personalize these pre-made demos by swapping out variables like logos and graphics. No code needed. Your AEs’ early prospects will feel like they got a custom demo on their live sales call, and you get to take a lunch break!

 

Paul Vidal, long-time solutions engineering leader and current VP of Customer Success at Reprise, believes that eventually every SE organization will use a demo creation platform.


Time killer #2: Empowering your champions.


Today’s B2B tech buying process is complicated and typically involves a large buying committee. You and your AE can’t attend meetings with every stakeholder or decision-maker, and that’s why you cultivate champions.


Champions are product enthusiasts and superfans that work inside the companies that your sales teams are targeting. And to enable your buyers to sell for you effectively, champions need to have materials that persuasively explain your technology when you’re not there.


Champions also need technical materials that will impress leadership. After all, they aren’t just promoting your product to internal stakeholders out of the goodness of their hearts; they’re doing so to demonstrate that they are a savvy internal resource. 


The problem is that static, technical leave-behinds like case studies and product one-pagers don’t meet all of these needs. Or, if they do, internal priorities often shift, rendering them obsolete and requiring sales teams to waste time reproducing new ones. 


Solution: SEs can give their champions guided product demos that look and feel like a real product experience, only with bumper guards. Guided demos give your champion’s stakeholders the impressive product experience they want, not the task of reading through technical sales materials they don’t.


Level Up: Use a demo creation platform to create guided demos, and your champion will feel more confident sharing them without you present. Guided elements like pulsating buttons and pop-up instructions act as a virtual AE & SE team, filling in the knowledge gaps for your champion while sharing it with stakeholders.


TIP: Gate your guided demo leave-behind to understand who interacts with your demo and discover members of the buying committee. With Reprise, you can access powerful analytics that allow you to drill down to individual session-level tracking to get granular insights.


Time killer #3: Supporting customer success teams. 


Customer Success (CS) and presales have similar goals—getting solutions to customers. And since SEs are intimately involved in the technical details of deals and have a lot of insight into customer needs, they’re often pulled into CS requests. Which is great but time-consuming when it happens too frequently. 


Solution: Instead of waiting until you’re pulled into a conversation with CS to share information, proactively update them with answers to commonly asked technical questions. The CS team will have the answers they need for customers in hand, and you can gain time back in your day. 


Level Up: Those guided demos we just talked about? They can make your work relationship with CS teams more efficient too. Identify top customer concerns and roadblocks and then create guided demos for CS to share with customers. 


For example, imagine that secondary users of your product find a certain portion of your software’s interface challenging. Your primary users love it, so you don’t want to change what’s working but need a way for CS to help secondary users get unstuck. 


Give your CS team guided demos that walk secondary users through the areas of your product that they’re struggling with. Guided demos can address secondary user concerns and keep them invested in using your product by pointing out its advantages. 

 

TL;DR
  • Your workload is increasing and won’t ease up soon.
  • You deserve to take lunch!
  • Common SE time killers are: 
    • Making too many unique demos.
    • Creating (and recreating) champion materials.
  • Getting pulled into addressing existing customer issues.
  • Eliminate these time-killers with our suggested solutions.
  • Level up your solutions even further with a demo creation platform.

 

Ready to give yourself a break? Take a look at how other SEs are saving time by making live and guided demos with Reprise, or jump in and try out our demo creation platform for yourself.

About the Author

Paul Vidal is a long-time solutions engineering leader and current VP of Customer Success at Reprise

Profile Photo of Paul Vidal