In the SaaS world, your sales cycle encompasses more than just making the sale and moving on to the next lead.
A successful process includes personalizing, anticipating and upgrading throughout the customer lifecycle. You forge loyal, lifelong customers when you deliver on a well-thought-out and consistently hands-on client experience.
To back that up, a recent Salesforce study found that 80% of buyers feel the experience a company provides for its customers during the sales process is just as important as its products or services. That same study also showed that 67% of clients were willing to pay more for a better experience.
For a large company offering dozens of different software services, sales reps don’t have time to become subject matter experts on the technical details of every product. But customers are looking for high-quality touch points about features throughout the sales process.
This is where a talented Presales team can make all the difference, but many organizations either don’t have a Presales team or don’t highlight their efforts.
What Is Presales?
Also referred to as sales engineers, solutions consultants or architects, or value consultants, the Presales team works to provide specific solutions to meet customer needs from the point of initial contact to the Proof of Concept phase. They collect and use data to customize client solutions, create possible use cases, and deliver technical knowledge during product demos.
Presales, or at least the increased demand for Presales, has become a bit of a bottleneck in the buying process. Customers want product demos on their time, but performing every requested demo creates lag and loads Presales calendars with repetitive unqualified demos. Intelligent demo automation software automatically qualifies leads before you assign Presales resources to a live demo. They offer customers instant interactive video demos and enter qualified customers into your pipeline fast. As a result, they free up valuable time for sales engineers to deep-dive into technical demos and qualified consults.
Why Presales Matters to the Customer Experience
Today’s buyers are doing more research and are more informed than ever before. In fact, B2B buyers have completed 70% of their buyer journey before they ever reach out to a sales rep. With literally billions of bytes of information at their fingertips, it’s no wonder that today’s B2B marketplace favors the buyer. They have garnered a wealth of information – be it good, bad, or indifferent – on your product before they even talk with you.
But all that data can also work against them. Often, they are oversaturated with too many choices without enough time to sift through them all to find the best product fit.
Even once you’ve met with the customer, you aren’t present for the conversations they have internally. You need to educate your buyers – particularly your champion – to sell to the other stakeholders. Arming your champion with shareable content ensures your messaging doesn’t get lost in translation.
There’s many different types of content you can provide: PDFs, recordings of the meeting, or intelligent automated demos. Whatever you use to share content, it should feed information back to you so Presales remains in the loop to provide additional knowledge support or introduce the buyer to different product solutions as new needs arise.
This isn’t something that stops once the deal is done. The Harvard Business Review found that businesses with solid, integrated Presales teams experience win rates of 40% to 50% in new business and 80% to 90% in contract renewals.
Strategies for a Winning Presales Team
A Presales team is critical to many sales operations, but it’s also one of the hardest to scale. Since they have a very specific skill set and require anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to fully ramp, it’s essential to organize Presales employees to work well with the rest of your company.
- Create a safe and collaborative environment between your Presales and sales teams. You are partners, not rivals, and garnering new customers is a team sport. While each group has different goals and objectives, you must unite under the common banner of creating a successful customer journey.
- Clearly identify roles and responsibilities. Knowing ahead of time how to best utilize the skillsets of each member of your group at the appropriate times will cut out redundancies and soften friction points.
- Have a defined workflow plan. Team members and managers need to be on the same page when it comes to who’s responsible for specific tasks at each stage of the sales process. Certain duties, such as relationship building, may overlap both Presales and sales teams, so for those areas make sure your messaging is aligned.
- Capitalize on digital processes to eliminate bottlenecks. By creating automated sales demos, your Presales team can make sure that potential buyers get the exact information that they need about your product on demand. This provides more qualified leads. They can also use technology to make product recommendations to existing customers, alert clients to contract renewal dates with discounts and special offers, and a host of other things that can reduce client pain points and foster quick renewals.
- Always keep the lines of communication open. Consistent contact between your sales and Presales teams ensures you address customer’s needs with timely and effective action, giving them the best possible service.