Rapid Rise of Digital Presales: Using the Disruption to Your Benefit

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Garin Hess

We covered before how pressure from several forces built up causing an explosive change for not only Sales Engineers (SEs), but for the sales process in general. Things like changes in B2C (business-to-consumer) influencing B2B (business-to-business), more Millennials in management roles, and ballooning buying group sizes clashing with pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing demand for Presales caused a huge upheaval in the market. 

This isn’t a blip on the screen either. This is a permanent change that there’s no going back from.

Changing Breakdown to Benefit

While rapid changes cause friction or even a breakdown of your entire process, there’s a benefit to all these happening at once. This eruption created a big swell of energy and momentum that you can use to your advantage. 

In fact, many organizations have already started going through the process of shifting to a digital sales model.  

My recommendation is, don’t be resistant to these changes; instead, jump in with both feet. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to combat each force individually. These recommendations will help you embrace digital Presales and make future processes more effective.  

1. Leverage Millennials 

Millennials are poised to make up most of the total workforce by 2025. The trends they create today will be common policy before long. 

50% of Millennials prefer to have no sales rep interaction. Instead, they value experiences and flexibility. If you create a great buying experience, they’re going to be more open to working with you. 

Millennials want vendors who are willing to work like them. Start leveraging those Millennials within your organization now. They understand the new buyer trends because it’s their trends. Use them to establish a digital Presales model.

2. Be Asynchronous 

Customers are increasingly demanding real-time digital interactions. With remote work becoming the norm, the lines between work life and personal life have blurred. 

Buyers want to retain a work life balance, and they’re accomplishing this by researching solutions when it fits their schedule. They don’t want to wait for vendors to have an opening in their calendar; they’re texting, emailing, and watching automated demos all while bringing their kids to soccer or walking their dog. 

You have to guide buyers through the buying process. Ensure you’re prepping the stakeholders with everything they need in-between meetings and only use meetings if absolutely necessary.

3. Deliver a Buyer Enablement Experience 

Buyer enablement is the shift from seller to “buyer coach”. Since B2B buyers expect a faster, more self-guided experience and support as they sell on your behalf to the other stakeholders in the organization. They need someone to guide them through the buying process rather than sell to them.  

Buyers want to do their own research, but are often overwhelmed by the amount of information available. Developing a Buyer Enablement Strategy allows you to deliver the info customers need while still providing them the freedom to do research on their own time without becoming bogged down. 

4. Establish Demo Qualified Leads (DQL)

In the 2022 SE Compensation and Workload report, respondents reported at least 30% of demos and under- or unqualified. These unqualified demos use up precious SE resources creating demo lag time, forcing buyers to wait on average a week or more for a demo.

Counterintuitively, the solution here is to do fewer demos. First qualify the prospect before granting access to Presales. While there’s no one perfect strategy to create a DQL methodology, some organizations have found great success requiring the customer view an automated video demo before receiving a live demo.  

Establishing a DQL criteria will go a long way to eliminating unqualified demos and regaining precious SC time. 

5. Automate Where You Should

If you want to establish a solid, buyer centric process, then you have to incorporate automated demos. 60% of organizations are automating some part of the demo process. 

Having automated demos benefits both you and your customers. You no longer have to present repetitive, possibly unqualified demos, and your customers can receive the information they want on demand. This also fits into the DQL process if you require the prospect to view the automated demo before receiving a live one. In short, you’re reallocating low-value repetitive activities to higher value activities by automating some demos in the buying process.

If you’re not sure which demos to automate, use the six demo types to see where automation fits into your process.

6. Delegate What You Can 

SEs don’t need to be the only ones responsible for delivering demos. In fact, 30% of presales organizations are already delegating demos to other teams. 

High level demos, such as the vision and micro demos, are good candidates to delegate to BDRs or AEs, especially if these demos have been automated. Early in the sales process, customers aren’t looking for a deep dive into the product, making the Presales’ expertise overkill for that conversation.  

Delegating demos using an intelligent demo automation tool has the added benefit of uncovering stakeholders, mapping out topics that interest them most, and preventing SEs from being overrun with underqualified requests.  

This eruption of digital Presales can be leveraged to benefit your career. If you think about this disruption as an opportunity, you can ride this wave and use the momentum to bring strategic thinking and process to your larger sales and revenue function. I’ve seen this create upward mobility for many of our customers. Some even have risen from Head of Presales to Global Head of Buyer Enablement in their organizations.

The presales teams that have been doing this already are propelling themselves to the forefront of their companies’ strategy. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on this opportunity.