Think Geek: 5 Questions With Jim Bixler
November 6, 2014
Runners say that every journey begins with a single step. For Jim Bixler, Sales Engineer at GeekHive, his journey with both running and the web began in the 90s. Known for meticulous attention to detail, Jim has shepherded hundreds of projects for such renowned clients as Nike, IBM, Anheuser Busch, Gillette, and Maker’s Mark. That same sharp focus and determination has also driven Jim to complete 14 marathons, including his first 50-miler this past May. A steadfast vegan and health conscious, when he’s not running, you’ll find him hiking with his wife, Janine, and their rescue dog, Milo.
In 140 characters or less, what is sales engineering?
A hybrid of sales, project mgmt & engineering that strikes a balance w/ project requirements & the ability to deliver on time & on budget.
How does distance running relate to the work you do at Geek… ?
Ahhh.. I’m glad you’ve asked, because what else would I think about when I’m out on a long run? No, seriously… I have a couple of thoughts about it.
Determination is key. You have to be fit to run a marathon. And you don’t just develop fitness in the moments when you’re running. If you don’t develop the proper habits, you’re sure to underperform. Being a successful sales engineer demands similar behaviors. You have to be observant and stay organized; you should be strategic about how you spend your time, follow-up with your clients or potential customers, etc. Success usually follows.
What are some creative roles or ways you’ve seen developers use their web development skills?
I may not be answering the question as directly as you might like, but I’m continually amazed at the skill sets and intelligent collaboration by the GeekHive team. What I initially see as a set of requirements becomes a solid piece of software through a variety of collaborations led by PMs, tech leads and developers. Discussions about approach and execution eventually lead to answers. Which in turn result in a desirable solution. The team is really, really good at finding those solutions.
What are some of your go-to blogs, sites, resources?
More often than not it starts with Google for me. It might be simply to identify an acronym, research a specific integration, CMS or even to look at a potential customer’s website. Frequently I’ll go to Linkedin.com to see who’s who and if we have any contacts from our previous lives.
Any advice for an aspiring engineer?
I believe there’s a delicate balance between capturing the requirements, estimating the effort, demonstrating your competence and creating an attractive proposal for your customer. I guess you could say there’s a bit of walking the fence in that you’ll need to understand the customer and what they are expecting from a proposal as well as understanding how your company expects to be profitable from the assignment. For me, this has evolved from years of experience as a project manager on both the agency and client side. In addition to an ability to communicate, it’s absolutely critical to have an understanding of how your company works and makes a profit. If the company can’t turn a profit on your projects, you can’t be a successful Sales Engineer.
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