When it comes to B2B SaaS companies, support engineers and sales engineers play a vital role. Both positions require excellent communication and problem-solving skills, but they have distinct responsibilities. Many founders aren't sure of the exact differences between the two roles - in this blog post, we'll dive into the difference between a support engineer and a sales engineer.
What is a Support Engineer?
A support engineer, also known as a technical support engineer, is responsible for providing technical support to customers.
They are the primary point of contact for customers when they encounter issues with the product. Support engineers help customers troubleshoot and resolve technical issues, providing guidance and support throughout the process. Their primary focus is on providing excellent customer service and ensuring that customers have a positive experience with the product.
More details in our blog post here.
What is a Sales Engineer?
A sales engineer, on the other hand, is responsible for selling the product to potential customers.
They work closely with the sales team to understand customer needs and provide technical solutions to meet those needs. Sales engineers are experts in the product and can explain technical features to potential customers. They also work with the product team to gather customer feedback and provide insights to improve the product.
More details in our blog post here.
Key Differences Between Support Engineer and Sales Engineer
The primary difference between a support engineer and a sales engineer is their focus.
While both positions require technical knowledge, support engineers focus on resolving customer issues and ensuring customer satisfaction. Sales engineers focus on selling the product to potential customers and providing technical solutions to meet customer needs.
Another key difference is in their interaction with customers. Support engineers primarily interact with customers who have already purchased the product and are experiencing issues. Sales engineers, on the other hand, primarily interact with potential customers who are considering purchasing the product.
Required Skills for Support Engineers and Sales Engineers
Both support engineers and sales engineers require excellent communication and problem-solving skills. However, support engineers require more patience and empathy as they work with customers who may be frustrated or upset. They also need to be able to communicate technical information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.
Sales engineers require strong presentation and negotiation skills as they work to sell the product to potential customers. They also need to have a deep understanding of the product and the technical features that differentiate it from competitors.
Support engineers typically have a degree in computer science or a related field and experience in technical support. Sales engineers typically have a degree in engineering, computer science, or a related field and experience in technical sales or consulting.
A day in the life...
Let's take a look at the typical day in the life of a sales engineer and a support engineer at a fictional B2B SaaS company called CloudCore. We'll follow their progress as they work with a new prospect and provide technical support to a long-term customer.
CloudCore has recently been contacted by a new prospect called StellarTech, a tech startup looking for a solution to help them streamline their HR processes. The company has been impressed by the capabilities of CloudCore's B2B SaaS product, CoreHR, but needs some technical questions answered before making a purchase. Enter our sales engineer, Emma.
Emma's day starts with a call with the CEO of StellarTech, where she provides a demo of CoreHR's technical features and discusses how they can benefit StellarTech. During the call, the CEO raises some technical questions that Emma cannot answer, so she sets up a meeting with the product development team to get some clarification.
At the meeting, Emma works with the product development team to understand the technical specifications of the product and how they can be tailored to meet StellarTech's requirements. She then follows up with the CEO with a detailed email summarizing the discussion and outlining next steps.
Separately, CloudCore has been providing B2B SaaS solutions to a long-term customer called Innovate Solutions for over a year. Innovate Solutions has encountered a technical issue with the CoreHR product and has reached out to CloudCore's support team for assistance. Enter our support engineer, Jack.
Jack's day starts with a call from Innovate Solutions reporting an issue with the CoreHR product. Jack listens carefully to the customer's description of the problem and takes detailed notes. He then works to troubleshoot the issue, running tests and analyzing logs to determine the root cause.
After identifying the problem, Jack works with the product development team to develop a solution. The team identifies a bug in the software and quickly develops a patch, which Jack installs remotely on Innovate Solutions' systems. Jack then follows up with Innovate Solutions to ensure that the issue has been resolved and offers guidance on how to avoid similar issues in the future.
In summary, support engineers and sales engineers are critical roles in B2B SaaS companies. While both require technical knowledge and excellent communication skills, they have distinct responsibilities and focus. By understanding the differences between these two positions, companies can ensure they have the right people in place to provide excellent customer service and drive sales.
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