Presales Superheroes

Rex Galbraith

With Great Power Comes Great Demos

Presales people are more humble in nature than us sales folk. They don’t really brag about their achievements. But that means they are easy to overshadow, as if Sales were Captain America and Presales were Bucky. 

SEs and SCs are not just sidekicks! They’re superheroes!

They have superpowers – some of them are natural, like Thor’s power, others are augmentative, like J.A.R.V.I.S. When they tap into these powers, they’re transformed into sale’s strongest Avengers. 

Buyer Enablement: Iron Man and J.A.R.V.I.S.

Presales is the healthy heart to every technical sales team body. Complex purchases are more about guiding buyers (and AEs) and enriching buying experiences than they are about enforcing a sales process. And more than any other team, presales gets this. It’s why buyers value their interactions with presales through demos and consultations and POCs more than any other vendor engagement. It’s also why AEs depend on them to move deals forward.

Iron Man would have just been a flying chunk of metal without J.A.R.V.I.S., and it’s not just because of the sleek British accent. J.A.R.V.I.S. was the source of truth that fed Tony critical information on risks and threats, it gave him performance updates on his suit, on mission critical tasks, it even assessed people, their behaviors and intentions. That’s presales!

And in this metaphor, Iron Man is both the buyer and the AE. The insights and technical know-how that J.A.R.V.I.S. brings is precisely what creates alignment, what clarifies next steps, and instills confidence, answers questions, drives adoption. 

Neither really functions at full scale and capacity without the other (excluding all storylines after the embodiment of J.A.R.V.I.S. into Vision, but *SPOILER* remember how once disconnected from Tony, Vision ends up dying).

Faster Decision Making: Doctor Strange and the Time Stone

Time manipulation is a pretty important part of the presales function. Under the auspices of buyer enablement, presales helps buyers make decisions and close deals faster. When presales bottlenecks exist, or when the function itself is under-invested, it can delay or even kill deals. 

That’s a big claim and merits some context.

Demand for presales now reaches across the entire revenue funnel. That creates a scaling issue. Some teams report needing a full 1-2 years to ramp a solution consultant or sales engineer. Sales reps take on average only 4 months. The more growth you have, the more AE’s you add, the more demand for presales grows, the greater the bottlenecks. 

Scaling presales is the promised land, but there just isn’t enough time or enough presales talent to fill the gaps. And unfortunately, most sales teams are oriented to manage deals around a sales process (as per the above note on buyer enablement). That means sales is too often holding buyers hostage to their calendars and processes because that’s what all the training and all the tools are oriented towards: a sales process with live meetings.

BUT, sellers don’t close deals. Only buyers can. And buyers don’t just organically follow a sales rep’s process; they follow their own. It’s an asynchronous buying journey. Presales teams were the first to figure this out and to accommodate buyers on their terms. 

We started to see this in the application of automated demos. When presales builds and delivers automated demos, the customers they engage are 34% more likely to become an opportunity, even without a live, scheduled meeting to start. If these same customers watch and share an interactive video demo, they are 81% more likely to buy. It’s a not-so-secret-secret that has shown to shorten buying cycle times by as much as 29%

That’s some Doctor Strange-like time stone magic right there. Remember in the first Doctor Strange when he used the time stone to automate millions of end-of-world scenarios with Dormammu? His magic was cool, but his use of the time stone allowed him to disqualify useless tactics against Dormammu until finding the right one. (Not to make this too much about Consensus but automated demos are used by customers to institute a Demo Qualified Lead criteria that reduces unqualified demos to near zero. Just saying…)

This, as it turns out, is a presales superpower, and not just when they use demo automation. Presales teams are instruments in and of themselves for uncovering stakeholders and customer insights needed to guide buyer decisions more quickly.

Bridging Teams, Like Sales and CS: Spider-Man

If you’re not in presales but work with them, you might think they’re mild-mannered like Peter Parker, and maybe nerdy and a little shy. While they definitely fit the profile of the smart, bookish type, they are the bridge between Sales and Client Success.  

Authentic, technical, reality-based conversations are what customers trust, and so presales reps are pulled into more deals, earlier in the process, and kept on throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Some organizations give presales responsibilities and compensation tied to not only net new deals but things like adoption and renewals. Increasingly, they’re pulled into initiatives like:

  • Defining customer goals with outcomes
  • Building step-by-step guides, with video instructions and frameworks, for implementation and adoption
  • Offering training on best practices across multiple use cases

This is Spider-Man-esque. There’s brawn but more importantly brain, agility, good wit and occasionally a dose of charm. Presales folks are often the smartest and most fluff-less ones in the room. That’s a dangerous package. It’s why they’re in such high demand. 

But they’re expected to demonstrate the agility to juggle multiple layers of activities with multiple layers of customers. It requires hopping from deal to deal, building to building without crashing onto the street. 

The End

How they do all of this is a mystery. Sometimes it is too much and they burn out. Burnout is one of the hottest topics right now within presales.

It’s why they’re all so passionate about scaling presales! Utilizing their strengths and equipping them with super tools would amplify what they do and pretty much make them unstoppable.

And no, this blog won’t have an after credit scene.