Customer Success Engineering is the continuation of product development by other means. — Carl von Clausewitz (loose translation)
During my brief time at Jut, I was in marketing as a Customer Success Engineer, which also tends to be known as a Forward Deployed Engineer (and hence they will be used interchangeably throughout). At Jut, this role was under marketing, and I never gave that placement a second thought. Our role was to onboard customers, teach them Jut (and our DSL, Juttle), and basically do whatever was necessary to make them happy with our product. The unspoken corollary is that we took our observations back to Product and Engineering to improve the product/market fit.
Since the dissolution of Jut-as-I-knew-it1 I’ve talked to several companies about this role in their organization. In almost all cases, the role reports into Sales, and may even include some sales-type KPIs, such as upselling or whatnot.2 With all due respect to these companies, I believe this is a mistake. In some cases, they may just be naming (pre-) sales engineers as FDEs/CSEs; however, if they actually mean to have FDEs/CSEs as such, they should not be reporting into Sales. Doing so will gut the usefulness of this role.
I’ve never been very good at defining the difference between sales and marketing, but I think a simple definition for the purposes of this post is this: Sales is going to sell the product they’re given; marketing is going try to ...more ...