Sales engineer John Norton gave us his thoughts on the hallmarks of a good salesperson, what it’s like to sell no-code, and his experience with Unqork culture from a distance.
Q: Let’s start by talking a bit about your background and the work you do.
John: I’ve been working in the software development space for about 12 years, and I’ve had experience in a range of different areas. I’ve been a test automation developer, a quality assurance developer, an implementation engineer, and a sales engineer. Once I discovered sales engineering I found that it was a really good fit for me—I’m a people person.
What’s your role at Unqork today, and what do your responsibilities look like?
I’m a sales engineer for Unqork. I’ve been with the company since March 16th—I was one of the last people who got to interview in the office before starting remotely.
A sales engineer has a few different responsibilities, but the overarching responsibility is to bring technical expertise into the sales process. As you work with potential clients, a lot of technical questions come up around things like our architecture, or how we might accomplish certain requirements in our platform. My job is to know all of the answers to those questions—and if I don’t know them, my job is to track those answers down.
The majority of the questions early on are fairly high-level, but more detailed questions need to be answered as we get closer to the contract phase to make sure we’re a good fit for the customer and vice versa.
During these sales conversations, I also work to build a proof of concept for these potential clients. It’s really helpful to be able to build out a small subset of their use-case to prove that we can, in fact, meet their needs and deliver.
"We get a lot of questions about integration because so many companies are dealing with legacy systems that have been a real obstacle. It’s definitely a great selling point because even if there are legacy systems that Unqork can’t directly connect to, we can use available APIs to make that connection."
What are some common problems that prospective clients are looking to fix?
I would say it’s somewhat of a mixed bag, but I think one of the common themes across all the verticals relates to our ability to integrate with other systems. We get a lot of questions about integration because so many companies are dealing with legacy systems that have been a real obstacle. It’s definitely a great selling point because even if there are legacy systems that Unqork can’t directly connect to, we can use available APIs to make that connection.
Is selling no-code different from selling other technology stacks you’ve worked with in the past?
I think it’s actually easier. Let’s say a potential client comes to us with a specific use-case and they need an application to accomplish this task. It’s really more of a question of building trust with that potential client, because we can absolutely build an application that meets their needs. That’s not the challenge. The challenge is, “How do I make sure this customer believes in us enough to know that what we’re selling is real?”
A lot of potential clients who have experience with other no-code or low-code platforms have a bad taste in their mouths. We have to fix that problem for them and make sure they believe in us, trust in us, and then I can show them the capabilities of the platform. If all I have to do is build a good rapport with the customer, earn their trust, respond to technical questions, and explain the different ways we might approach a problem, I’d say that’s a lot easier than selling a widget with limited capabilities. Selling Unqork is great because we really just don’t have as many technical challenges to overcome.
Check out this demonstration of Unqork Workspaces, which makes it easy to organize multiple projects.
What are the key qualities that you think make a good salesperson?
I think to be in sales at Unqork, a level of creativity is definitely necessary because any given problem can really be solved in a variety of different ways with our platform. Having a bit of creativity and being able to think outside the box allows you to come up with solutions for things that are a little more difficult to do.
I would also say attention to detail is important, because there are a lot of subtle details that come up in the sales process. Whether it’s a technical challenge or a client requirement, it’ll be more difficult for us to meet needs if we miss the details. Being on the lookout for potential pitfalls might seem like a small thing, but it can be very, very big in terms of scoping.
Finally, although we know this question might be a bit tougher to answer since you’ve had to start work remotely, what can you tell us about the culture at Unqork?
Yeah, it’s always hard to get a read on culture from a remote position. However, I’ve spent a good amount of time already working with various team members, and I’ve built relationships with those people. The key thing that stands out about Unqork is that everybody is very positive, very team-oriented. Everyone’s willing to help you if you need help.
I’ve never run into a roadblock where I needed information or needed assistance and no one was there to give it to me. I think that’s something I haven’t found at other companies and I think it’s very unique—that mindset of being one team, one fight. Especially having started remotely, I think that’s been exciting to see, and I’m really happy to be a part of this organization.