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Creating a compensation plan for a PreSales team isn’t an easy task, especially as the Sales Engineer (SE) role becomes increasingly important. Getting it right means attracting and maintaining top talent that knows the dynamics of their position. And it’s essential for communicating how much you value your PreSales team members so they maintain job satisfaction. 

Unlike their Account Executive (AE) counterpart, a Sales Engineer’s success isn’t measured on wins and losses. But they are at the heart of the selling motion, as complex tech stacks make sales more technical. SEs are instrumental in demos and handling POCs, while proving the value of your solution and its ability to alleviate customer pain points.

What Does the PreSales Team Do?

Sales Engineers play many roles to bridge the gap between product and sales teams. The activities they are involved in include:

  • Creating demo setups for various industry verticals or use cases
  • Performing technical discovery
  • Aiding in proper solution development to match prospect technical needs
  • Creating proofs of concept and prospect-specific pitches
  • Educating sellers on technology
  • Providing valuable customer feedback to the product team

All of these activities are focused on achieving the technical win. They also help prevent selling to prospects who aren’t a good match for the product, preventing customer dissatisfaction, and minimizing customer churn.

Motivating Sales Engineers

Sales compensation plans are designed to drive specific behaviors and achieve objectives to attain company revenue goals. Although SEs technically don’t close deals, they have a huge impact on whether or not deals close based on the technical win. So, the PreSales compensation plan needs different elements than other sales roles to keep Sales Engineers motivated.

To promote desired behaviors, meet objectives, and attain revenue goals, it’s important to go beyond deals closed when calculating compensation for PreSales team members. Some things to keep in mind as you create this plan include:

  • Tracking things Sales Engineers can control like SLAs, time management, and demos converted to proposals.
  • Keeping things interesting by tracking side projects completed.
  • Adding an incentive to encourage continuous learning and growth by enabling Sales Engineers to enhance their contributions to the sales team on an ongoing basis.

How to Structure a PreSales Compensation Plan

Although there are some PreSales reps who receive a 70/30 split or a 90/10 split, the most common base-to-commission ratio for sales engineers is 80/20. And once quota is attained, bonuses and accelerators can be used to encourage the PreSales team to go above and beyond their goals.

Your PreSales compensation plan may include the following components:

Revenue Goals

It’s best to tie 50 to 60% of commissions to revenue goal attainment for the group, pod, or region the PreSales rep supports. This results in a more harmonious relationship between the SE and their sales rep counterparts, since their compensation isn’t based on any specific individual’s ability to close deals.

Non-revenue Goals

The balance of commissions paid to your PreSales team may be tied to the four main non-revenue metrics often used to measure Sales Engineer performance. These include:

  • Demo-to-opportunity conversion—commonly used for high-velocity sales
  • CRM hygiene maintenance—documenting the reason deals are lost in the CRM and working with the product team on ongoing problems in their territory.
  • Vertical collateral creation or other special project completion—this can include the creation of dedicated content for specific industry verticals such as thought leadership, demo portal configuration, webinar content, and customized presentations.
  • Learning and training—designed to help improve shortcomings or weaknesses.

Balancing the revenue and non-revenue goals in your PreSales compensation plan keeps SEs motivated while providing them with some control over attainment. This increases job satisfaction and retention as well.

And remember, compensation plan creation is never one and done. It needs to be revisited every six to 12 months and updated regularly to reflect evolving individual and company goals.

Enable your SEs to focus on understanding and achieving the technical win without the worry of building POCs from scratch. Demo experience platforms like Demostack allow you to easily clone your product into a demo environment and customize it to every conversation—so you can showcase product stories that resonate, without the hassle.

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Sorry, this content is available for Leadership Collective Members only!

The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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