Panel | The AE:SE Relationship

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The panel discussion at DEMOFEST focuses on the importance of collaboration between sales and pre-sales teams for successful outcomes and customer satisfaction. Issues such as alignment, mutual understanding, responsibility, accountability, and trust are highlighted as critical factors. The panelists suggest measures such as clear communication, setting expectations, openness, transparency, and regular one-on-one meetings between SE and AE leaders, among others, to foster positive partnerships between teams. Collaboration with solution consultants, understanding different organizational structures, involving pre-sales in strategic meetings, and navigating changes through open discussions were other topics covered. The panel concludes by emphasizing the importance of taking ownership of one’s development, seeking exposure to leadership and different products, and supporting each other in achieving common goals.


  • 00:00:00 The panelists introduce themselves and the event, DEMOFEST, presented by Consensus. They also invite attendees to donate to their company’s humanitarian organizations and join their community on Discord. The panelists then discuss the biggest hindrances to successful collaboration between sales and pre-sales, with issues such as alignment, mutual understanding of roles, responsibility, and accountability being the most important factors. Building trust and a strong team dynamic is also crucial for effective collaboration.
  • 00:05:00 The participants in the panel discussion emphasize the importance of not treating the sales and engineering relationship as merely transactional. They stress that being aligned on deals, customers’ expectations, next steps, and owning the outcome are all key. They go on to suggest avoiding hindrance in successful relationships by avoiding unqualified deals, bad notes, and a lack of collaboration, and by building mutual trust between the sales and engineering teams. Clear communication and setting expectations are necessary to achieve this type of alignment and partnership between teams, resulting in a better customer experience and higher chances of success.
  • 00:10:00 The panel discusses the importance of transparency and openness in the AE-SE relationship. Specifically, they touch upon the use of calendar sharing to manage time effectively between teams. The panel also addresses how to avoid an adversarial relationship between the SE and AE teams, emphasizing the need for blameless communication and open feedback. They suggest that leadership plays a significant role in fostering a positive partnership between teams and recommend regular one-on-one meetings between SE and AE leaders. Additionally, the panel suggests recording sales demonstrations to help build trust and facilitate candid feedback.
  • 00:15:00 Members of the panel discuss the relationship between solution consultants and account executives and how they can work together more effectively. They emphasize the importance of communication, goal-setting, and strategic alignment to achieve shared objectives. The panelists also discuss the thorny issue of compensation and the need for both parties to understand how each is compensated and what they can do to add the most value for the customer. There is general agreement that an alignment between the success of the sales executive and the solution consultant is necessary to achieve their common goals and build a strong relationship.
  • 00:20:00 The panel discusses the importance of understanding the different organizational structures and goals of different teams, as this can impact the level of cooperation between them. They note that while it’s not always possible to perfectly align different departments within an organization, there is still overlap and opportunities for collaboration, which can benefit both parties. They also emphasize the importance of having a shared goal to work together towards solving the customer’s business problems, and of focusing on problem-solving rather than pushing specific product pitches. Finally, the panel raises the point that understanding different roles and responsibilities is crucial to effective communication and collaboration between teams.
  • 00:25:00 The panel discusses how pre-sales professionals are not always invited to strategic meetings due to a misunderstanding about their role or seniority. However, pre-sales can bring value to these discussions because they can think strategically about the company and product strategy, and they understand customers’ needs. It is essential to involve pre-sales in these discussions to build the right solution for the client. Additionally, the panel identifies the importance of communication and trust-building between sales and sales engineering leadership to navigate conversations around closing deals with non-ideal clients.
  • 00:30:00 The panel discusses how an AE should handle a situation when a potential customer is not a good fit for a product or service. The panel suggests that having a good relationship with the SC is beneficial and that the AE should trust their expertise when it comes to technical functionality. The panel also stresses the importance of being open and having open discussions as a team to avoid bad deals and to solve problems together. They also discuss how change and transition within a company can present an opportunity to grow and evolve relationships between AEs and SCs, by going through the stages of team building: getting to know each other, storming, norming, and performing. The panel advises that this can be a chance for team members to come closer together and to be open with each other, but it needs to be handled properly to avoid negative consequences.
  • 00:35:00 The panelists discuss how to navigate through changes in an organization and use them as opportunities for growth. They emphasize the importance of communication, empathy, humility, and inclusiveness in fostering trust and building relationships between AEs and SCs. They also suggest addressing challenges that are within one’s control and accepting feedback from each other to achieve success together. Furthermore, they recommend reaching out to new AEs in case of turnover to help them navigate the organization and provide support as a trusted advisor. Ultimately, they stress the importance of supporting each other and being open and honest about emotions.
  • 00:40:00 The panelists discuss how to build a relationship, foster partnership, and encourage collaboration between SEs and AEs. They stress the importance of getting to know each other on a personal level, having off-sites to connect better, and doing team events that focus on building relationships on a personal rather than a professional level. The panelists also emphasize clear roles, communication, and understanding who is doing what to move the deal forward. Individual contributors also need to build personal connections with their counterparts and understand each other’s personal lives, which leads to better workflow and reduces resentment when plans change due to personal conflicts. The panelists suggest measures such as 10-minute coffee connections, safe words during the meetings, and embedding solution consultants in regional teams to align them better with AEs and foster relationships.
  • 00:45:00 The panel discusses how embedding solution consultants in regional AE teams leads to better alignment and partnership between the two groups. They also highlight the importance of having a dedicated sales enablement team to bridge the gap between AE and SE teams. Additionally, they note that their company has dedicated account assignments for SEs and AEs, which allows for more successful and longstanding relationships with customers, though it can also lead to heavier workload for SEs.
  • 00:50:00 The panelists discuss the challenges of managing workload ratios and ensuring SEs are not overloaded, but still committed to the opportunity. The panel suggests rotation methods to share the workload and create a queue for unpaired SEs to request assignments. The downside of rotation is less commitment and lesser customer proximity. The panel agrees that assigned and dedicated FCs are ideal, but there should be a plan to develop the SEs and prevent them from being locked into one team. They emphasize planning, strategy, and alignment with the goals of the AEs to achieve the best results.
  • 00:55:00 The panel concludes their discussion on the importance of taking ownership of one’s development, whether as a manager or an SC, and seeking exposure to leadership and different product sets. The moderator thanks the panelists for their time, expertise, and dedication to the event and reminds the audience about the gamification and prizes on offer for filling out session surveys. They also invite attendees to register for upcoming DEMOFESTx events in London, Dublin, and New York. Finally, the audience is encouraged to visit the Expo Hall and thank the Premier Partners who’ve contributed to the event.


About the Presenters

Julia Klaric

Senior Presales Solutions Engineer Atlassian

I have worked in IT for the past 14 years in various customer-facing roles, focusing on business application analysis, project management, consulting, team leadership, and Presales.

I am passionate about customer centricity, leadership and management, psychology, and new technologies. Currently, I work at Atlassian as a Senior Presales Solutions Engineer, helping our biggest enterprise customers in the DACH region to make the best out of our products.

Loren Zadecky

SVP, Group Head Solution Consulting KeyBank

David Friedland

Sr. Manager, Presales Engineering Everbridge

David Friedland is an accomplished Sales Engineering Manager with an extensive background in Identity Access Management (IAM) and security software, specializing in crafting tailored solutions for large enterprise clients. Currently excelling in his role at Everbridge, David adeptly applies his wealth of experience gained from prestigious roles at Churchill Venture Capital, Imprivata, Aveksa (acquired by RSA), and other leading organizations to drive exceptional outcomes and foster innovation within the company.

In his current capacity at Everbridge, David assumes a vital leadership role, leveraging his extensive experience in managing vendor relationships, directing teams of architects and engineers in professional services, and currently providing strategic support in pre-sales endeavors. He has been instrumental in creative ways to increase ACV, deal velocity, and fostering enduring relationships with customers both internal and external. David has a proven track record in driving innovation and delivering exceptional results.  In recent years, he has successfully led cross-functional projects, created new product offerings, and ensured the retention of top talent.  He is committed to fostering a high-performance culture and developing strong sales engineering teams.

Justin Simon

Director of Sales SAP Concur

Mike Shedd

Sr. Account Executive SAP Concur

Erin McDaniel

Account Executive SAP Concur

Hi! I’m Erin McDaniel, I have been with SAP Concur for almost 5 years now—I truly consider it home! I started my career here as a Client Sales Specialist, and have climbed up the ranks to a Strategic Account Executive. When I’m not building relationships with my clients, and bringing in revenue, I love spending time with my little family consisting of my husband Colin, and sweet Yorkie, Kirk (team small dog!). A couple of fun facts, I’m an avid reader of the fantasy genre, and I never cook the same recipe twice!

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