Skuid pre-sales engineering manager Keith Metzger hosts Reddit Expert AMA

Skuid pre-sales engineering manager Keith Metzger hosts Reddit Expert AMA

Last week, Skuid’s pre-sales engineering manager, Keith Metzger, hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). For anyone who isn’t familiar with the channel, the AMA is one of Reddit’s mainstream features where experts put themselves on the line to be questioned in their area of expertise by Reddit users everywhere.

Keith has more than 20 years of experience in the field, and recently ended his 15-year tenure at Oracle to join Skuid. He’s now leading a global team at the Chattanooga-based company, where he’s responsible for creating and executing a proof-of-concept (POC) for customers before product launch. He’s helped some of the largest enterprises in the world achieve digital transformation.

Here are the highlights from his conversation on Reddit.

Q: What made you decide to leave Oracle and join Skuid?

A: Skuid appeared to have a really exciting solution. I looked at it closely and thought that a lot of companies need this. I thought that I could help sell a ton of Skuid and provide value for many users. The vision and roadmap were exactly what I thought they should be. Also, the size of Skuid was growing to include a new pre-sales group. Helping to build a pre-sales team was something that I was looking to do, too.

Q: How do you balance between making a product just good enough to show the client what they need to know and wanting to wow them?

A: That is the trick of a good pre-sales person. Finding a balance between learning a prospect’s pains, challenges, and desires, along with matching that to the strengths of the tool, is something each good pre-sales engineer should do. To specifically answer your question, one needs to know their pains, challenges and desires, along with the wow stuff, put it all together and tell a story that relates to the prospect, so they care.

Q: Is it possible to build fast and user-friendly applications for large enterprises? If so, what does it take to either work with their outdated systems or move to a better, web-based app? How long does it commonly take to implement changes in a big organization?

A: Absolutely. The technology of today allows one to change to numerous web-based solutions. An important part is to understand what really needs to be changed. Do back-end systems need to change or is it just the front-end? Is it the GUI that is outdated, or is the actual functionality of what the system does that is old? Once you understand that, you can start to look for the right fit. Many companies have systems that work fine, but are ugly or the process flow isn’t user friendly. That can lead to poor user adoption and feel outdated, even when it may be rather new. You don’t have to unplug and install every system that seems outdated. You can change the user interface and the user experience, so it looks new and fresh. The process flow can be logical, requiring little to no training for the users. This can be done in days. When you ask about how long it takes to implement change in a big organization, the answer is: it depends. What are you changing? Dashboards, forms, screens—those are easy to change. Changing back-end systems, with lots of integration, will take longer. Skuid can implement change at big corporation in hours, days, and weeks, depending on what’s happening.

Q: What does a pre-sales solutions engineer do?

A: A pre-sales solutions engineer can go by several different names: sales consultant, sales engineer, applied technologist, solution consultant, and the list goes on. At Skuid, we look to have our pre-sales engineers become trusted advisors or humble experts. Their primary job responsibilities are to meet with prospects, gather requirements, understand the pains and challenges of the prospect, work with the sales rep, determine a solution, configure a demonstration, give a presentation to the prospect, answer functional and technical questions, educate, and show value of what our solution can provide to their company. In some cases, they will develop and deliver a POC. Their job duties go beyond working on existing opportunities, too. They often work at conventions and marketing events to educate others and help drive interest. After a customer purchases the solution, pre-sales engineers can also provide customer care to help clients be successful and increase their user adoption. Overall, a pre-sales solutions engineer is critical to the sales cycle because they tie the customer needs to what our solution can provide for them.

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Charlie Moss has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Week, Slate, MOJO, VICE and other publications. He has a passion for comic books, Star Wars, and The Beatles.