Sophi Kravitz is an electrical engineer who enjoys being somewhere near the bottom of the learning curve. Currently, she is pursuing RF engineering, analog engineering and building art based on RF signals. She lives in a workshop containing a kitchen and living room with her husband.
I have to say: Frautech’s recent post about Double Speak resonated with me.
Nearly two years ago, I moved into a Sales Engineering role out of Design Engineering.
Exhilarating, fun, challenging and creative, being a Design Engineer is fulfilling on an emotional level. Making money for the company which can provide a sense of importance, Sales is fulfilling on an egotistical level.
My function is to maximize sales for my company by helping engineers and scientists to choose the right product (ours, naturally) for their application. The thermal control products that I sell aren’t very complex, but there are distinct competitors which use other technologies to achieve a similar end result. As an SE, I have the opportunity to persuade a Design Engineer to design our thermal controls into their product, resulting in a large sale for my company.
So what is the right thing to do when I meet an application that might be solved by a competitive technology? There is the Engineer’s Code of Ethics, which states among other things, to avoid deceptive acts.
Is it deceptive not to introduce the competition by keeping my mouth shut even if I believe this is the correct design route?
There is the Designer side of me that would be angered if I found out that the Sales people didn’t share all of the information. As a designer, I’d be furious if I was led to the wrong solution.
Then there is the Sales side of me.
In Sales, the measurables that show how good of a job you are doing are the sales numbers you bring in. In addition, my paycheck is closely tied via commissions to how much I sell. So leading a design engineer to a competitor’s product, and doing this too often, will lead to getting fired at worst, and at best, a smaller paycheck.
To further complicate things, sometimes the situation is such that the designer is new at their job or new to the technology, or they might be working on a project I’ve seen before with another customer. A recent sale that I made was to a customer who was performing an extreme process identical to a previous customer. The extreme process was causing our thermal equipment to fail in the case of the earlier customer. Luckily, I was able to allude to this previous situation and upsell the new customer on something more robust.
A beta product that I’ve been tasked with finding new markets for simply doesn’t perform quite as well as the existing product it is meant to replace. It has been difficult to sell this partially because the customers don’t believe in it and partially because it’s difficult to kick the incumbent product out.
I’ve concluded it will be better to find a competitive product that it can do a better job replacing rather than stretching the truth and pissing off my fellow engineers.
Sales Engineers and Field Applications Engineers, what do you tell your customers when you find yourself in this situation?
Design Engineers, have you ever been steered in the wrong direction? What have you done about it?
Thanks to Oblong Pictures for the lego shot.