Using Conversation Intelligence to Collaborate with Sales Engineering

November 21, 2018

Shawn Parrotte

In my role as Head of Sales Engineering at, I help the sales team close more deals by showcasing the strongest capabilities of our platform. In the time that I’ve been here, having conversation intelligence has really enabled me to work better, faster, and more efficiently than ever. And I’m here to tell you why.

What Is Sales Engineering? #

Let's take a step back and try to define the true role of sales engineering. Wikipedia says "Sales engineering is a hybrid of sales and engineering that exists in industrial and commercial markets." In the context of SaaS selling, this is an inaccurate description. I'm neither a sales person nor an engineer, and that’s true for almost all the SaaS sales engineers I know.

Here's how I would define sales engineering in SaaS:

Sales Engineers are product experts with an understanding of how sales work.

What that means is that the most important thing a sales engineer needs to do is gain deep understanding of her / his company's products. Once that happens, she/he can be pulled into sales meetings and truly add value.

The Classic Process For Sales Engineering #

Here's how the process of pulling a sales engineer into a sales meeting works in most SaaS companies:

  1. Account Executive has a call with a prospect where technical questions are being asked.
  2. If the AE does not know the answer, she/he will usually say "Let me schedule a meeting with our Sales Engineer who can answer these questions for you"
  3. AE reaches out to the Sales Engineer and the dialog usually looks like this:

AE: "hey, can you hop on a call with me and {Prospect Name} tomorrow?".

SE: "I can only do Friday, what do they need?"

AE: "I didn't really understand, they had some questions about X,Y,Z that I didn't know the answers to".

SE: "OK, did you ask them A,B,C?"

AE: "No"

SE: "No worries, let's meet with them on Friday"

AE: "I'll email them and try to coordinate... Oh actually they can't do Friday, only next Tuesday".

SE: "OK, let's do that".

When the Sales engineer jumps on to a call, it sometimes goes like this:

SE: "Hi {Prospect Name}, my AE told me that you had some questions for me about X,Y,Z, can you repeat them?"

Prospect: "So you want me to go over all the things I already asked him?"

SE: "Sorry about that, I just wanted to make sure I hear the questions directly from you"

Prospect: "This could have been handled better, but fine I’ll give you a recap of my concerns..."


Prospect: “Umm I’m not sure if that’s what my question was around. I think we’re mostly concerned about…”

The prospect's frustration at having to repeat themselves or recollect what they said on a call last week is completely understandable. Situations like these end up giving prospects a poor buyer experience and unnecessarily delaying the sales cycle.

Sales Engineering With Conversation Intelligence # is a conversation intelligence platform that records, transcribes and analyzes business conversations in real time. From the point of view of sales engineers, there are two platform capabilities that make our lives much better and the sales cycle that much smoother:

  1. Creating "Trackers" for keywords or phrases so you can find them in any recorded conversation or transcript
  2. Email alerts any time the "Tracker" is mentioned in a conversation.

So how did I use these capabilities to do a better job? #

Step 1 — In my first week I created a "Sales Engineering" tracker. It's extremely simple to set up and essentially looks like this

11 21 18 using conversation intelligence to collaborate 01

That took me only about 20 seconds to set up but it changed our lives for the better. Once the tracker was in place,’s amazing AI got to work on it:

  1. Chorus.AI uses semantic networks of keywords. This means that even though I set the tracker up for "Sales Engineering", it will also include any mentions of variations like "Sales Engineer", "Sales Engineers", or "SE"
  2. Due to the fact developed its transcription technology in house, we are able to control our dictionary, and can add non-English words to it. Since "Noam" is an Israeli name, we simply made sure that our Custom Language Model picks the name up every time someone mentions my name.
  3. As soon as I set up the tracker, it not only started analyzing mentions in future calls, but also indexed all past calls so I could go back and listen to any previous conversations where sales engineering was mentioned. (Do imagine using these trackers for your competitor’s names and you will understand the true power of this capability).

Step 2 — The next thing I did was create an email alert so that I would receive automated alerts of any conversations where either sales engineering or my name were called out.

11 21 18 using conversation intelligence to collaborate 02

When I click through from the alert email, it takes me to the exact moment where the rep asked for help so I can hear what the prospect needs in their own words.

If it's a simple answer, I comment within and tag the AE so they can communicate the answer to the prospect quickly (sometime, while they are still on the call or in their follow up email). If it requires an in-depth discussion with the prospect, I am now better prepared and avoid asking redundant questions.

The benefits here are very clear, both for me and for the sales reps.

For me:

  1. I never need to interrogate the rep anymore in order to understand what the prospect actually asked for. The actual voice of the customer is directly available for me to work on.
  2. I can immediately start working on the solution or response, instead of waiting till I have spoken with the prospect myself. In many cases we’ve managed to slice a few weeks off the sales cycle.

For the AE this is pure magic. All they need to do is say the words "Sales Engineering" on the call and that's it! They know that I'll get the message, that the prospect will get an answer within a few hours instead of days and that the deal can advance quickly. The whole process has gone from painful or delaying to smooth and real time.

If you are in Sales Engineering, Operations, Enablement, Product Marketing or Management, you can now start collaborating with sales reps off the voice of the customer. This is the true power of Conversation Intelligence in breaking down organizational silos.

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