A Day in the Life at BigCommerce – Sales Engineer

Sales Engineer: Paul Ritter

Hello readers! Thanks for checking back in to our blog series, ‘A Day in the Life at BigCommerce’ where we’re shining the spotlight on some “work hard, play hard” positions that are helping merchants’ businesses thrive and sustain growth more and more, every day. 

We at DigitlHaus think an interview blog series like this is essential. Not only for our own clients, but for so many different people in the community that want to know from an employee’s perspective how certain positions are making a difference in an ever-changing industry. 

The only unhelpful thing you might see is some of the employees bragging about how BigCommerce is the best of the best—but you can blame that one on us—we obviously made them say that.

Our newest interview is with Paul Ritter, a Sales Engineer who is ensuring that both merchants and agencies alike are informed on how things work at BigCommerce. Read below! 

  1. What is a BigCommerce Sales Engineer?

We have both Customer Sales Engineers and Partner Sales Engineers. Our customer facing Sales Engineers are the trusted technology advisers to merchants who are trying to make an eCommerce platform decision. All of them have a wealth of knowledge about the technologies used in eCommerce. Some are even former BigCommerce customers! The partner Sales Engineers serve a similar role in helping agencies understand the value of partnering with BigCommerce and assist in enabling those partners to be successful through education.

2. What is your involvement with BigCommerce partners? How could you assist them in a sale?

When partners have unique solutions or amazing builds, I love to hear about them. We often use those as sample sites for our prospects and often times the merchant wants to meet the agency who built the sites we show. In active deals, I’m always happy to help lend a credible voice to the feasibility of the solutions our agencies propose. 

3. What is your involvement with Prospects and Clients?

I’ll often fill in for our SE’s when they are not available or have conflicts. I do this to make sure our messaging resonates with merchants and that we’re meeting their needs. I’m also often working on deals in the background, either as a sounding board for ideas from the Sales Engineers or helping marshal resources to solve tricky problems. I’m lucky enough to meet existing clients at trade shows or events, but it’s the one thing I feel I don’t get enough of. I learn so much about our strengths from existing clients, a good portion of the talking points I use against our competitors I learn in those conversations.

4. What is the best part of your job, the part that makes you come back to the office the next day?

I love how complex the job of solving merchant problems can be. We get to talk to hundreds of customers every month and each one of them brings a unique challenge. At the same time, the ecosystem of agency ideas and technology partners also grows constantly. We’re solving a problem that grows exponentially every year. That can be scary or incredibly fun. We have so much talent in our Sales Engineers that I can’t imagine it ever not being fun.

5. What other BigCommerce teams do you work closely with and how?

Sales Engineering sits in the middle of a lot of things at BigCommerce. The SE team meets with our product teams to discuss merchant roadmap dependencies and market needs, our services team to ensure a good customer handoff experience, business development to help assess our technology partner ecosystem, marketing to help staff events, Security and Operations for RFPs and prospect concerns, and of course all the sales teams.

6. Can a BigCommerce partner reach directly out to a sales engineer if they need help with a sale, if not what is the process to get a sales engineer involved?

I recommend going through a BigCommerce Account Executive to engage a Sales Engineer for active deals if you haven’t already. We have a great sales process that not only wins deals at an absurdly high rate, but also makes for a great experience for the merchant. That starts and is quarterbacked by our AE’s and is very partner friendly. Once we’re in a deal cycle, you have full access to our SEs for solutioning. The great thing about that is you’re never alone in a deal. Through the SE, you not only have an experienced architect, but also a channel to our product teams and even our technology partners’ teams if needed.

7. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Helping brands I care about and knowing we sold them a platform that will make them be successful. One of my favorites is Hess Toy Truck. My grandparents used to buy me one of their annual collectible trucks for Christmas every year. Now that I have kids of my own, my mother gets them for my little boys. They sell in a very short window before Christmas and we make sure they are up and available for all the parents and grandparents who want to delight their families. I’d like to think we’re helping to make sure that I’ll be able to buy those trucks for my own grandchildren. Hess sent a case of trucks for our toy drive this past Christmas for Austin orphans who get to experience that same joy of lights and sound from those little green and white trucks. I’m proud to be associated with that brand and so many of our other BigCommerce merchants who bring joy to so many people including my own family.

8. What are the typical scenarios you work on when in a sales phase with a BigCommerce partner and prospect?

There’s not really a typical merchant problem that we as a Sales Engineering org are brought into because there is so much variation out there. We are engaged after the BigCommerce AE and the Partner understand the problem the merchant wants to solve, so we tend to have the luxury of solid data points to begin our process. This means we will tailor a demo to the needs of our prospects, ask informed questions to uncover the best solution, and give an honest assessment of fit. Our platform is very powerful, so the SEs get to really flex their creativity. We do this alongside with our partners. As a partner friendly company, we have no channel conflict and every incentive to help them win business together with us. Through these wins, a lot of the SEs have built relationships within the partner community and there’s a healthy exchange of “have you solved this before” back and forth between the two groups.

9. If a client wanted to see a demo of a functionality that has not yet been done on BigCommerce, is this something you would do to win a sale?

It depends on the scope of the work. If it’s going to be a lot of custom coding, the partners are there to do that and it’s work they rightfully get paid to do. If it’s something smaller in scope, we have built a lot of custom POCs for prospects. For really complex architecture problems, our SE’s are building out architecture diagrams in partnership with our customers and partners so they know they have a solution that will work before they commit to a contract with BC.

10. What has been the most tricky/complex scenario you have had to solve on the BigCommerce platform?

My current favorite problem that we’ve solved recently is getting variable pricing for limited supply products like tickets. If you buy tickets for an event, pricing may change as supply gets lower. This means you can have multiple prices for the same item and requires a call to a dynamic pricing engine and building a cart that has two or more prices for the same item. BigCommerce didn’t support this, so we took it to our product team who were able to get it into a sprint. This is the kind of service we bring to our merchants and partners as an SE org, we solve hard problems and verify those solutions will work.

11. How would a BigCommerce partner ensure that they are up to date and know all of the new technologies and releases that are on BigCommerce?

Get to one of our partner summits, they’re really great events and the Partner team does a great job with them.  BigCommerce also has a great developer portal and is always releasing new partner education and training.

12. Is there anything on the roadmap for 2019 that will set BigCommerce apart from other platforms and competition? 

We don’t publicly share roadmap, only privately with merchants and partners. I will say we have some impressive things on the near term horizon that I’m excited about.

And that’s a wrap! A big thanks to John Ritter for giving us and our readers the details on how you’re making a difference over at BigCommerce. We at DigitlHaus appreciate the hard work you do when it comes to making important deals with merchants like our clients and helping them pave a road to success for their businesses. 

Make sure to check back and read the next interview for our ‘A Day in the Life at BigCommerce’ blog series!