Onboarding: 5 key skills your value engineers need

In this world of digital transformation, if you’re a software, hardware or telco vendor, driving sales through business value is now more important than ever. In our post this week we talk about some of the key skills that your value engineers need to have. And we explain five main traits to keep in mind when you’re onboarding new people to your value team.  

Some history on value engineering

Nearly two decades ago, the first business value teams were created. These started in companies like SAP and Oracle. Back at that time, the profile of a value engineer was not clear-cut. But it was logical that the best people with the most transferrable skill sets would be active or former business consultants, from the IT industry or with experience in business ICT consulting.  

Early in the millennia, emerging business value teams were an exciting mix of people coming from all sorts of competing companies – for example McKinsey, Roland Berger, Booz-Allen, BCG, A.T. Kearney, Cap Gemini, and Accenture Consultants. These people led the way. They tried hard to work out how to run and scale early business value practices. They came together to develop shared tools and helpful templates, to establish a clear positioning before any customer  engagement and help value engineers and value sellers through the sales cycle. And peoples’ personalities and individualities really shaped this process.  

Early value engineers were business consultants

These early business value professionals had lengthy discussions about business  value engineering. The main debate was if their focus ought to be on building new pipelines or supporting deal closures. Essentially, there was a divide. Some individuals thought the conceptual work – developing and delivering outside-in presentations – would bring more value. And others favoured the idea of developing a business case together with a customer. Straight off, it was obvious that both of these areas of focus were equally important, and because of this realisation value engineers found a solid position pre-sales. 

Early value engineers traits

It was through these developments, that the profile of a value engineer started to emerge:  

  • Value engineers needed to know about business processes and the linked costs.  
  • They needed to have financial analysis knowhow.  
  • And they needed strong communication skills; written and verbal. 

And over time, the ideal profile became clearer.  

As we mentioned earlier, the role traditionally drew many parallels with consultancy. But nowadays, a value engineer starts their work at lead generation, they continue through the sales process, and end when the customer signs your contract. A value management approach is always driven by improvements in business processes. Because of this value engineers are often needed to assist value managers and salespeople. A value engineer’s job is to support your value leaders and sellers to find out the value creation potential your solution will bring to prospect customers. This is nothing like calculating a TCO, for example, though it may be included.  

Nearly twenty years later, the practice of value engineering is maturing in leading companies. Many value engineers even now come from backgrounds in ICT and strategic and operational consulting. However, lots of successful value engineers come from more diverse backgrounds nowadays too (like from finance, accounting, commercial and engineering companies).  

Key skills for value engineers

The profile of a value engineer is now more clearly defined; methods and tools are also more mature. The quality of business value teams across the globe are getting better and better. This is because we know the skills people need to work well in this field and that makes it so much easier to employ people from many industries and locations.  

So, what are the skills we know about now? Well, we put together five qualities that are key to the role of value engineer. We hope you find these helpful to keep in mind when you’re recruiting: 

1. Excellent business understanding

First of all, does it seem fairly obvious that this person has some really great business insights and excellent business judgement? Your value engineers should fully understand how the kind of companies you deal with make their money. They They also need to know how to help companies make more money through process efficiencies.  

2. Great financial capabilities

Next, does your prospect have a good grasp of mathematical and financial concepts? Building a business case is one of the most important tasks for a value engineer. And doing that successfully, relies on good maths skills. The thing to remember here is that an individual with good maths abilities but the knowledge of different financial approaches could easily transfer their skills to value engineering.  

3. A passion for sales

How passionate is this person about selling? And do they have experience in sales?  Although this is not a sales role, we put this at number three because your value engineer will work with your sellers. And like your sellers, they need to travel with your target customers all through the sales process with the sales knowledge and the flair of a seller. Having enthusiasm and a good understanding of the sales processes is a really important skill for a value engineer.    

4. Unparalleled people skills

So, at number four on our list, comes great people skills. The thing to think about here is do you feel a connection with your prospect when you are speaking with them? Are they easy to talk to? Even better, do you feel a real affinity with them? The job of your value engineer is really all about helping to build smooth and successful working customer relationships. They need to build rapport with your value managers, your value sellers, your customers, other colleagues in the sales team, and so on. All these individuals have their own needs and expectations expectations. And it is the responsibility of your value engineers to consider all these people’s needs.  

5. Sound language and communication skills

Our final point to note here, is your prospect’s communication skills. This one is last but not least, because being able to interact well is a fundamental part of a value engineer’s job. The question to ask yourselves is can the individual you’re recruiting communicate well? And by ‘well’ we mean clearly, concisely and convincingly. Do they have good written and verbal skills?  – because they need to be able to talk to people confidently in person, on the telephone and online.  

It is so important that your senior team members can traverse the CxO planes, so they can easily understand industry challenges, and talk to your customers eye-to-eye. In larger or more mature companies, making sure that your people have specific industry and process expertise is also really useful for successful business value management.  

The value engineer is someone who looks at the facts, analyses them and then builds credibility based on their research. This role is not as in depth as a consultancy role. A value engineer essentially looks at the surface only, and they are not there to serve customers for months on end.  

Conclusion

Value engineers help your value team to balance industry and company specific information with skill. So straightaway, your customers can very clearly see the business value in your offering. The characteristics that make a good value engineer, no doubt, come more naturally to some people than others but, with the desirable basic skills, individuals can come from very different backgrounds. The thing to remember is the right people can be easily trained and will quickly increase their talents with experience. And in our experience people from different business backgrounds make a well-rounded and balanced value team.  

To end, we think these are the five key things to think about when you’re onboarding new value engineers. In our experience, great value engineer will pretty much always have these five key abilities. It doesn’t really matter what their business background is, if they can show you that they have these skills.  

Value engineering teams are multidisciplinary and multinational

A multidisciplinary and multinational team who have great communication skills and can start off by finding links with your customers’ needs and your solution will be a big attraction to customers. Your customers will feel like they want to say yes when they can resonate with your value people, and you can show them you have great industry insight. Having value engineers in your team from different professional backgrounds, with first-rate business and industry knowledge great financial abilities, and a passion for sales, will make the best starting place. From here it is so much easier to advance your business value practice. 

Another thing to think about is if this feels achievable internally. If it doesn’t, you can definitely outsource! 

Can we help you? In this fast-paced era of digital transformation, a business value approach isn’t effortless but, in this time of great change and beyond, it will be the key to your success. If you need any advice or support, or if you have any questions or comments based on the topics we discuss in our blogs, we are here and we always love to hear from people. Please ‘get in touch’ and a specialist member of our team will get back to you. 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy our posts, please feel free to share – and stay tuned for next week too.  

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