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Sales engineering is a strategy that combines elements of the sales effort with the use of technical and engineering support as a means of generating sales and keeping customers satisfied after a sale. This approach, also called "field applications engineering" in some circles, makes it possible for potential customers to be educated on the applications of a given product before a purchase is made. After the consumer makes the purchase, some access to technical support is extended, a benefit that in turn increases the chances of the customer choosing to do additional business with the provider.
One of the more common examples of sales engineering is found in the communications industry. Sales forces will often work in tandem with engineers or others who offer technical support to help consumers understand how to make the best use of hardware, software, or communication services, and save time and money as a result. For example, a teleconference company may work with a client to develop a web conference solution coupled with audio services that provides the ideal platform for conducting an investor relations meeting. As part of the process, the salesperson will work with technical support personnel to arrange demonstrations of the services, answer questions about functions and usage policies and in general help the potential customer understand how the system works and why it would save money.
The same concept of sales engineering translates well into both local and national sales efforts. Appliance stores not only rely on the efforts of well-trained salespeople but also the support of technical professionals who can aid customers with installation, maintenance and even programming issues. In like manner, computer sellers benefit from providing sales engineering in the form of competent sales personnel and technical support, helping customers find what they need and know how to make use of those products to best advantage.
When successful, sales engineering goes a long way toward establishing and deepening relationships with customers. The combination of obtaining basic education and great pricing from the salesperson and also having contact with qualified personnel who can offer help can minimize the chances that the customer will be open to dialogue with competitors, which in turn means the company continues to generate revenue from that relationship. Should a customer perceive the support obtained from either the salesperson and/or the engineer, there is a good chance that the relationship will only remain intact long enough for the client to find someone else who provides a better solution.
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