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Technical Marketing   –  How  to  Interview  an  Engineer  SME     As Senior Marketing Specialist for an electrical testing service company for 11 years, I longed for an easy-to-sell, easy-to-understand product or service. But years later I’ve come to realize and appreciate the craft of selling something that few understand. I wrote articles and designed ads to sell electrical reliability for data centers, hospitals, manufacturers and other operations that cannot afford a loss of power. I interviewed engineers and researched Power Quality, Reliability Centered Maintenance, and Preventive vs. Predictive Maintenance. Know what I learned? I learned about people. I learned to watch how they explained complex systems and processes. Engineers are very careful and exacting people who care a lot about the details and getting everything right. Sometimes you have to listen for quite a while as they set up the basics for you. And sometimes they are watching you to see if you “get it” or if your eyes glaze over and you look for a quick way to exit. I learned to stay with them, jotting down notes, but keeping eye contact and asking quick questions if they left a subject before it sunk in. After they set the scene, they would start to get to the meat of the subject. Most of the best engineers would get a little twinkle in their eyes as they talked about how a process worked or what kind of information they found when they reviewed, say, the harmonic analysis of a motor. They were really passionate about it.

I remember the first time I attended a sales meeting and the keynote speaker was talking about retrofitting circuit breakers. I knew almost nothing about circuit breakers – from what they did, how they worked, or why on earth we would need to retrofit one. But I remember the speaker, George Gaines. He was in his mid to late 60s, short, well dressed, and obviously an expert on the subject. For most of his talk I had no idea of what he was talking about and started to lose interest. But then I keyed in on his body language and how excited he was to share his knowledge with this group of sales engineers. He was so enthusiastic he was almost dancing around. His passion for the subject made it interesting. His passion made me want to understand it. From that experience I learned a different way of interviewing and talking to engineers. I give them time to explain, and I give them respect. I listen carefully, patiently, and look for that spark. And when it’s time for me to ask questions I ask about the results of the tests. I ask about how the information they learned can be used. Sometimes it leads to smoother operation, better performance, or something that can improve workplace safety. But you know what? Most of the times the benefits of a technical subject are easy to understand. And the benefits are what you use to make a sale. The benefits of a circuit breaker retrofit are that you get the latest technology at a fraction of the cost. That’s a benefit we can all appreciate! Carole Lucido is an inquisitive communications professional interested in achieving measurable results for clients in industrial, engineering, parks & recreation, banking, associations and retail. I am open to new opportunities and thrive on innovation and new ways to increase sales and improve operations. Contact m e at (925) 947-6080 or

See samples of technical copywriting for engineering firms.

How to interview an engineer  

Marketing an engineering service or product does not have to be boring! Read this for a new way to interview a SME and uncover some excitin...

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