Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Management (DMgt)

First Advisor

Joel Adler, PhD

Second Advisor

Syd Havely, PhD

Third Advisor

Marc Ondrechen, PhD


Vendors in industries with highly technical solutions often employ sales engineers to engage with customers and align solutions to customer requirements. In the information technology infrastructure industry, sales engineers are not consistently identifying customer business outcomes. This results in a gap between the execution of sales engineering and the ideal impact of presales systems for customers and vendors. This dissertation identifies the context of this problem through the lens of the Cynefin Framework as complex.

As a complex system, sales engineering demands a systems thinking approach to understand the present state and to design an ideal future state. A multimethodological approach was used, drawing on a breadth of systems and design thinking tools. After describing the present state through these tools, a representative cohort of industry stakeholders participated in a design session to identify the characteristics and design of an ideal system. The synthesis of this output describes an ideal sales engineering system, inclusive of an engagement and coaching process, training and enablement programs, organizational structure, and compensation plan for sales engineering and the adjacent systems of sales and post-sales.

The present state analysis and ideal future state designs were validated with an industry questionnaire. Survey responses indicated general agreement with present and ideal design descriptions but highlighted some areas of concern that require caution during implementation. These included the integration of pre- and post-sales organizations and connecting sales engineer compensation to customer satisfaction. The design identified by this work empowers sales engineering organizations to address customer outcomes, which has the potential to drive vendor revenue while accelerating customers’ digital transformation and its associated benefits.


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership