Who You Gonna Call? A Sales Engineer!

Written By: Roger Wilke

Call a Material Handling Field Sales Engineer

Copyright: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures

If your business is in manufacturing or distribution, you are likely faced with a common dilemma in today’s business environment — lack of resources.  Nowadays, businesses stay very lean in terms of personnel, and this often leads to some troubling questions for management:

  1. How do I improve productivity, provide new infrastructure, or engineer better processes?
  2. How do I evaluate those improvements, calculate the return on investment for a potential project, or find time to identify the latest technologies in my industry?
  3. How do I get ahead of competitors who continuously improve their business, when I don’t have the people to make the changes I need?

One answer might lie in the availability of a good field sales engineer.  A field sales engineer (FSE) is an individual with both the sales and engineering experience needed to address technical solutions for your business.

Additionally, a good material handling company with a strong local presence is going to provide FSEs to cover geographical or account-based territories in your area. Thus, if you need the extra resources but don’t necessarily want to create a new position(s) within you company, hiring an FSE would be a great alternative.

An FSE is highly motivated to help you improve your business processes, because he or she is looking to develop strong, long-term relationships.  Repeat business is what drives the success of an FSE, and the only way to achieve repeat business is by providing excellent pricing, support, and solutions over the long run.

There are three great reasons (and many more) to have your local sales engineer help evaluate your material handling needs:

  1. Free Engineering

    In many situations, the case can be made for a company to purchase an engineering study or hire a consultant to assist on a project.  However, there are times when such an expenditure is not practical, won’t get approved, or can’t be done quickly.  This is when an FSE can really help your business.

    For the FSE and the customer, a key is the combination of the sales portion of the FSE job with the engineering skills.  The sales engineer has the training, experience, and resources available to engineer a solution to meet your needs.  The FSE obviously wants to sell solutions, but they also engineer them.

    The engineered solutions require an excellent understanding of material flow, information flow, and general business processes. Thus, a successful FSE becomes intimately involved in understanding their customer’s business needs, and this gives them the ability to help you when you are in a pinch for engineering resources.

  2. Long-Term Service & Support

    The FSE collaborates with their customer to provide solutions, and they remain involved throughout the life of the project–from the initial identification of the opportunity all the way through the system support once it has been implemented.

    Because the FSE helps engineer a solution, there is an extra level of involvement, commitment, and responsibility for the success of a project.  The customer can rely on the FSE and the support within the FSE’s organization to assist in maintaining, training, and future modifications to their systems to meet ongoing needs.

    There is a lot of support behind an FSE.  While he or she may be intimately involved in the design of a system, there are usually inside sales engineers, project managers, site supervisors, and others involved who help put a system together and make it work.  These additional resources are available to the end customer over the long run.

  3. Access to Multiple Resources and the Latest Technologies

    The FSE can also be a resource for identifying the latest technologies to fit the customer’s needs.  As previously stated, FSEs get to know their customers’ business very well.  At the same time, they have exposure to other customers, industries, and multiple technologies.  Because they have access and are exposed to the latest technologies, they have the unique position of being outside of the customer’s organization, but knowledgeable enough about their business to apply the new technology properly.  The FSE can help compare and contrast the solutions that are best for the customer and help ensure that the solutions work successfully in their environment.

Some would argue that there is a conflict of interest for an FSE–a tendency to develop a solution that includes his or her company’s own product lines.  This might be true if that company or supplier is very limited in its product offerings.  However, if the company is an independent integrator with multiple offerings, the FSE is more likely to provide the best material handling equipment for the customer at the best cost for the total solution provided.

A good FSE has a common goal with his or her customer — to provide continuous improvement with excellent engineered solutions over a long period of time.  With this in mind, an FSE can be the right call for a business trying to improve without adding internal resources.

What are some other positives to working with a local field sales engineer?

Roger is a senior applications engineer located in Bastian Solutions’ St. Louis office.

Tags: , , , ,


  1. Jason says:

    Great article Roger – I especially like the idea that as a representative of an independent integrator the Field Sales Engineer can focus on providing the customer with the best solution without limiting the design to the products that his or her company manufactures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.