Of all the courses I took while earning my three engineering degrees, the most valuable one was in marketing management. Every engineer should be acquainted with the subject.
To be sure, there is often chronic tension between salespeople and us engineers. They always seem to promise too much and to want it delivered too fast, and they never seem to care for our input. I imagine the salespeople have equally harsh things to say about engineers. The lack of understanding is the heart of the problem.
With that in mind, here are tips for engineers to integrate sales and marketing into their careers:
Build a relationship with the sales and marketing staff. Take the initiative to explain your product or service in layman’s terms. Don’t promise features that can’t be delivered at a certain price. Give a realistic due date. Avoid the conflicts between engineers and marketing that so often delay software releases or send products off that have not been properly tested for bugs.
Get the terminology straight. For instance, ”sales” is often used synonymously with ”marketing,” but there are big differences, best understood by placing things in the right order. The first step is market research, which determines what potential user groups need or want. Next is market planning, which estimates how many users a given product will attract at a given price. Then there’s market development, which addresses strategic problems such as when to enter a market.
Last comes market promotion, the active selling, or ”marketing.” This involves the so-called 4 Ps—the attributes of the product, its price, the place where it can be bought, and the way it is promoted.