Bridging To Immediate Value with the Craft of Sales Engineering
Interview with Andy Evangelos, Director of Sales Engineering for North America Everbridge
One thing that’s common across the enterprise software industry is the challenge of ensuring that a technical buyer is able to get the right technical solution. That’s where the craft of Sales Engineering comes in as vital to the success of a lasting customer relationship. We were lucky at Everbridge Technology Blog (ETB) to interview Andy Evangelos — one of our key Critical Event Management industry leaders and a new co-editor of ETB — to give us insight about his journey as a Sales Engineer.
ETB: It’s a well-known fact that Sales Engineers are vital in every enterprise software companies. How did you find your way to this craft, Andy?
Andy Evangelos: My journey to Sales Engineering took an interesting road. I attended college with the aim to obtain a chemistry degree and a teaching certificate for 7–12 graders. While doing this, I worked my way through school in retail sales at RadioShack. This was the perfect job for a part-time college kid that loved technology and working with people, after all the slogan at the time was, “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.” It really was solution selling at its heart. It was hugely rewarding to see customers get what they needed to get connected to the magic of relatively simple technology.
After graduation, I taught high school chemistry for five years in upstate New York. I loved working with the students and seeing the growth that they had. However, teaching exactly the same thing multiple times per day and then starting over every fall didn’t satisfy my intellectual curiosity. It felt like treading water. I explored graduate school options and had just enrolled in a PhD program at George Mason University when I got the call.
It was from one of my best friends, Matt Ward, that was pitching me an opportunity to work at Everbridge. At the time, there was a Sales Engineer position that was going to be 50/50 pre-sales and post sales delivery. The primary goal was to help our customers move from a legacy system to our brand-new solution, Mass Notification. I was completely over my head throughout the entire interview process. Somehow, I managed to build enough rapport with the Sales VP Gary Phillips, Services VP Jeff Lortz and SE Manager Chad Sanders, that they were willing to take a risk on me. After all, they knew that they could also put me in a training role if it didn’t work out.
Fortunately, it did work out and I have seen Everbridge grow from 100 to 1500 employees. Starting as the third Sales Engineer at the time and now leading a team of about 40 in North America. Everbridge has certainly grown, and I am proud to have grown my career with it.
ETB: RadioShack! That’s where I (John Maeda) got my first job — I was a summer intern at Tandy R&D where I worked on a secret new Microsoft product called Windows! Which reminds, me, what was your first computer growing up?
AE: I think it is worth mentioning a few computers from my past, because each of them led to different experiences that really shaped how I learned and viewed technology.
- The first was a 286 IBM clone, we bought it so that my mom could type her papers as she attended college. Of course, I commandeered it every free moment that it had and primarily played a 3D Tetris DOS game called Block Out. The people that sold it to us had set up the PC to boot to a UI that made it simple to launch applications. My parents thought I was a genius when I figured out how to exit to DOS and launch other programs on 5 ¼” floppy disks that had been passed out friends.
- The second was one of the first Pentiums, we had a Packard Bell that came from Computer City (RIP Tandy/RadioShack again.) It did have a modem and we had the AOL subscription. I was on this PC all the time, either gaming or chatting on AOL instant messenger (AIM).
- The third machine was AMD based Windows machine. This was the first machine that had a CD-burner, which immediately pushed me into the world of MP3s and all the things I could do with music. The 56k modem could only take this so far, so I forced my parents to sign up for broadband the first day it was offered in our neighborhood. I remember installing the network card myself (the USB setup the cable company opted for didn’t cut it). This was the beginning of me building and upgrading machines!
ETB: Floppy discs, AIM, CD-burners … those were the days. But I know that you’ve gone all modern digital, too. Are you iOS or Android? And why?
AE: Currently, I use iOS. I find that a lot of Apple Apps are better designed than their Android counterparts. But you can say that as a technologist I respect both mobile platforms for what they’re good at, respectively.
ETB: I’ve carried both an Android and iOS device for the last five years for just that reason. Different platforms certainly have different strengths!
When you consider the nature of what we do at Everbridge — which is extremely mission-centric — how do Sales Engineers navigate the balance between commerce and humanity?
AE: Sales Engineers (SE’s) have to be the ultimate listeners. Every organization that we work with at Everbridge has the same goal: to keep their teams safe. However, the path for them to get there intersected with their relative level of exposure is always very different. Achieving that balance is relatively simple, as the SE, because we are always focused on the core path to keeping those teams safe. We bind our activities around a shared narrative, and then solve the technical hurdles that prevent bad things from happening. Balancing the commerce side really comes down to helping customers understand the value of what we can do.
ETB: Since you and many folks on the SE team were there back when Critical Event Management (CEM) was born, is there a story you have that has stuck with you as CEM has evolved?
AE: I can’t share which prospect site I was visiting (wink), however, this story truly is the day that CEM was born:
Imad Mouline, Ken Benveniste and I had spent a large amount of time preparing for the perfect pitch. We had customized our user experience, loaded customer sites, and built templates per the customer playbook that they had shared with us. The prospect asked for a reenactment of the response to the bombings that occurred at an airport. We were prepared to show how they could react to such an incident with our platform down to every minute detail.
While having lunch with our point of contact, we all started receiving alerts that there was an event in that country. Imad joked that my template might be working “too well” and that I should check them. So, I did. After looking more closely at the alert, we realized that an attempted coup was taking place in the exact city where our templates were centered. Lunch was over.
We spent the next several hours, not giving our pitch, but working through the event with our prospect. We looked at the intelligence, mapped it to their assets, prepared communications etc. Every now and then, people would excuse themselves to send a message from their existing platform using our intelligence and analysis. We were orchestrating the response to the coup in that room.
In essence, it was the unique timing of our demo that coincided with the kind of critical event that only Everbridge could manage with our technology at the time. And that prospective customer became one of the earliest CEM customers and remains a great partner to this day.
ETB: What’s the biggest challenge for Sales Engineering as a field today, and how is the Everbridge team working to tackle that frontier?
AE: SE’s have an extremely valuable skill set. SE’s understand the business objectives, the technical problems and the people that will need to use the technology. They have a tremendous amount of insight on every sales opportunity that is in progress. The way I see it, they’re critical members of the team alongside sales reps and customers — and so we strive to maintain the “ecology” of the relationships created as shared, important, and with the discipline for us to always be on the same page.
As a rapidly growing company, we have the same challenges that any organization faces when scaling at high speeds. On some occasions, processes that are top down produce good results; on others, processes that come from the field and work their way upwards can also produce good results. It’s that balancing act that we play all the time to provide top-notch Sales Engineering skills that can over-fulfill our customers’ desires to remain, or become, leaders in enterprise resilience through adopting CEM technologies.
ETB: Thanks for the lessons, Andy! You’re an inspiration to many of us across the organization.
Everbridge is hiring! We have many sales engineering positions now open and available across the world — come join us at Everbridge to help keep people safe and organizations running. Faster.
Everbridge, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVBG) is a global software company that provides enterprise software applications that automate and accelerate organizations’ operational response to critical events in order to Keep People Safe and Organizations Running™. During public safety threats such as active shooter situations, terrorist attacks or severe weather conditions, as well as critical business events including IT outages, cyber-attacks or other incidents such as product recalls or supply-chain interruptions, over 6,000 global customers rely on the Company’s Critical Event Management Platform to quickly and reliably aggregate and assess threat data, locate people at risk and responders able to assist, automate the execution of pre-defined communications processes through the secure delivery to over 100 different communication modalities, and track progress on executing response plans. Everbridge serves 8 of the 10 largest U.S. cities, 9 of the 10 largest U.S.-based investment banks, 47 of the 50 busiest North American airports, 9 of the 10 largest global consulting firms, 8 of the 10 largest global automakers, 9 of the 10 largest U.S.-based health care providers, and 7 of the 10 largest technology companies in the world. Everbridge is based in Boston with additional offices in 20 cities around the globe. For more information visit www.everbridge.com