We’re back in action with another round up of the latest episodes of the Burning Presales podcast. We had six more fantastic guests from all parts of the world of Presales share their hottest insights about the trends they’ve seen. You can browse through the episode highlights here or listen to each episode for the full answer for these Burning Presales Questions.
Scaling presales is always a hot topic, and that’s especially true on the Burning Presales Podcast. It’s not just a matter of what to scale, but when and how to scale.
It’s a difficult nut to crack, “What you actually want to focus on are the things your teams are doing. Especially things that should be repeatable or are not currently repeatable but could be made so.”
“If you look at your team’s demo time and are able to cut that down in half with demo automation, now they can start looking at how to make a more productive demo. Not making a canned demo, but incentivizing your team to think about how and what other kinds of demo systems or other use cases of other markets could we be targeting. Then incentivize them to be creative and use that new free time to go build and try initiatives, see what’s working in your particular territory or company wide. That creates opportunities for additional sources of value that your team directly drives now that they have that free time.”
When you look at the kinds of support customers want from CSM and Presales, you’ll notice a lot of overlap. “They’re asking for the same stuff, so this is where you start thinking about what proactive things you can build and demonstrate to provide unexpected value outside of my realm and how can you build that at scale?”
- Repurpose training webinars – Record webinars where you’re discussing topics that include onboarding, admin tasks, common “how to” questions early users have, and any engagement you get with Q&A. Recording these webinars allows you to put this information up in your community page as onboarding 101.
- Build a Community of SME Champions – When you’re training new customers, identify those who are Champions or SMEs. Then provide a space where these SMEs can collaborate and answer each other’s questions. This will create a resource that can be accessed by future customers.
For Rene, presales need to be skilled in working with four things:
- Product – you have to have extensive knowledge of the products you work with and those your customers often work with
- Process – the sales process and how your customers travel through that process
- People – the people you’re selling to, the people on your sales team, and just generally be a people person
- Personality and Passion – being excited about the products, people, and company you work with
“The best people I’ve worked with in the industry all have one thing in common. They lead with passion and love what they’re doing. If they love the products they work with and the teams they work with, that passion radiates out into everything they do. Other people get infected by the passion and that’s when the magic happens.”
From Rene’s perspective, there’s been a merging or overlapping of the roles of sales and presale in recent years.
“It’s fantastic because to be the most successful in helping customers – to advise customers and make sure they make a good decision – sales and the presales working together is critical. It’s also fun because when you work together, there is more communication, more trying new ways of working, and people just come up with better ideas. Obviously, it’s ultimately about the customer and how you as a sales team can best connect to them.”
“But don’t get hung up on creating a super team. Some people gel well with certain people and not with other people. Ultimately, we are presales professionals. To do our job, you need to work in different teams. You need to interact with people or work with people who maybe the gel isn’t 100% there, however, it’s your responsibility to still work in these kinds of environments. You need to have the ability to jump from one team to another and that’s where the true skills of a presales are.”
Tom Curtress hit us out of the gate with presales knowledge. “Leading with logic rarely gets you a real connection in a sales cycle. Everything is emotively led initially. You definitely use logic to justify that emotional decision after the fact, and that’s true in personal life as well as our professional lives.”
“There’s a lot of emotional stuff at the closing stages of a buying process. You shift from focusing on the upside gain to mitigating downside risk, especially when the contracts are out. Since a lot of those presales individuals have experience implementing, you can put those stories to the fore, create a process the customer can see you’re not only invested in helping them achieve that upside impact that they need, but you are conscious that you don’t wanna leave them hanging.That the risk the risk of doing nothing is greater rather than the risk of change.”
“When I’m prospecting, I think of shaking an apple tree. If I’m lucky, some ripe apples will fall to the ground, or I might stumble upon individuals that have a problem that my solution solves. But that doesn’t happen so frequently. You want them to come through your inbound channels and remember you when they have those challenges.”
“You want to make sure when a customer you’ve worked with before does have that need that they remember you. That means the tree shaking has to be directly relevant to the persona of that team – whether that be CFO, finance, accountants – our outreach has to be directly relevant and in a language and A and A and a message that they can latch onto. Whoever describes the problem best is gonna be best placed to solve it. ”
Damian developed his own Buyer Experience Framework because, “The buyer experience is about doing sales on the customer’s timeline not according to your own sales process.”
His framework is made up of three phases:
Phase 1 Build – This phase is all about building your own story. Very simply explain what problem you solve and how you solve it. This helps the buyer move through their education stage as they learn about what solutions are available to them.
Phase 2 Connect – This phase is about buyer enablement and building champions to sell for you internally. This is crucial because it helps you determine if they’re actually ready to go to sales since they’ve raised their hand.
Phase 3 Engage – This phase lines up with what we traditionally see sales engineering or pre sales doing. If you’ve completed the other two phases, you’re talking to somebody who’s well educated and ready to buy. It makes the process much easier for everybody involved!
“I really see cyber security sales starting to move towards enablement. Having conversations with buyers instead of traditional sales methods. I think these tactics are really starting to die off as more and more buyers see the controls really in their hands.”
“This is a really interesting crossover topic around demand generation, which you know traditionally is a marketing function, but actually, if you think about it, what we as presales engineers are really doing is a kind of demand generation. From writing content, podcasts, YouTube videos,going to conferences, or presentations. All those different activities are different types of media, but it’s creating demand. It’s content that your potential buyers will see and start to become educated around. The more you can help them realize there is this problem and there is a gap the easier it will be to have that conversation.”
“Sometimes people think, ‘If I now record all my demos; then what am I gonna do with my time?’”
“Leveraging things like demo automation and auto responses takes away the lower skill or repetitive work that we find we found ourselves doing. That is exactly true because rather than someone doing the same task over and over again, you’re actually saying, ‘You can now do that automatically.’ So you’re still getting the same results, and you’re able to replicate and scale it.”
“You’re bringing people out of that day-to-day whirlwind of doing the same thing over and over again. Now, you’re going to be able to craft a really good response, create some really great video demos, and help really close out a deal by delivering that sort of killer value.”
“I’m a massive fan of TikTok, which is essentially a very short form video explosion during the pandemic. What it managed to do is create a space for people from all different industries, areas, professions to create content that is about their specific needs. What it also does is emphasize that you only have a few seconds to really get some attention.”
“So what makes you watch something interesting if you’re scrolling YouTube or clicking through the TV channels? What is it about a particular program that grabs your attention? If you’re targeting people who are like you, it’s probably going to be similar. And the first time you do it, it’s almost certainly way too long. When I create videos and content, I think, ‘what are the words I can cut out? How can I say this more concisely?’ You can say an awful lot with a lot less; that’s the way I always approach it.”
John and his team have been conducting a survey of presales leaders hoping to understand what hiring managers in presales look for when they hire. They spoke with 65 hiring managers across several different levels of leadership and from all over the world. The results have been fascinating.
- Motivation trumps everything. 97% of hiring managers said that motivation was an 8 out of 10 or above as a desired characteristic.
- After motivation, soft skills came in second and cultural fit as a quite close third.
- Hard skills were only a priority a mere 17.5% of the time.
- Across 12 different competencies, the top three skills that were rated 8 out of 10 or above as important were partnering with account executives which rated 93.6%, demos and presentations at 87%, and discovery 77%.
“We’re aware that it’s a really competitive market, especially if you look over the last year it’s been crazy competitive. As a hiring manager, you often have to trade off different skills and different abilities and one of them we often see is between somebody that can hit the ground running from day one but doesn’t necessarily have that the highest ceiling of potential versus somebody that has a high ceiling of potential but will need some kind of ramp up. 69% of higher managers lean towards a high ceiling of potential.”
“When looking for new talent, often hiring managers look at immediate competition or people within their own segment. I think that makes sense because the hard skills fit. Because it’s a very competitive market, there’s a limited amount of individuals out there, so you have to start branching out quite quickly. People have had real success hiring outside the industry. People who have true customer empathy. They’re able to operate on a peer level. If you’re able to find somebody that’s really excited and motivated by presales as a profession, you’ve potentially got a great hire that will have that longevity that you that hiring managers are looking for.”