Brian Lewis, co-founder and CRO of Home Run Presales, discusses the challenges pre-sales teams face when engaging with buyers and emphasizes the importance of being prepared for that first discovery call or demo. He discusses the complexities of the B2B buying journey, the importance of empowering the champion, and the benefits of leveraging asset distribution tools. Lewis also emphasizes the need for collaboration among sales teams and introduces the idea of “structured flexibility” to allow for efficient use of resources in closing deals. He highlights the importance of creating evaluation plans and playbooks to help presales teams prepare and engage with buyers, including best practices, standard operating procedures, and templates. Additionally, he addresses the issue of organizational profitability and the limits of transactional sales teams.
- 00:00:00 Brian Lewis, co-founder and CRO of Home Run Pre-Sales discusses the importance of being prepared for that first discovery call or demo. He also highlights his extensive experience in B2B software presales and how he built the presales function from the ground up to drive revenue and improve efficiency in his previous company. Lewis puts these practices into practice by helping presales teams of all sizes achieve success and recognition within their organizations.
- 00:05:00 Brian Lewis discusses the challenges presales teams face when engaging with buyers who are increasingly independent in their research and decision-making processes. According to Gartner’s research, 72% of buyers prefer a “rep-free experience,” which can make it difficult for presales teams to demonstrate their value as trusted advisors. Additionally, the majority of the buyer’s time, 45%, is spent doing independent research rather than speaking with sales teams or presales teams. Despite these challenges, Lewis emphasizes the importance of presales teams in guiding buyers towards making informed purchasing decisions and helping them achieve their specific objectives.
- 00:10:00 Brian Lewis discusses the complexities of the B2B buying journey, which involves various touchpoints and conversations. The buying journey is not a neat and linear process, as buyers engage with content and information from potential suppliers before engaging with them directly. Therefore, pre-sales teams must understand that buyers have already done significant research and feel overwhelmed and tired by the time they first engage with them. The best presales teams must prepare to engage by setting the right tone, being prepared with personalized questions, and building rapport with the buyer. Doing this well can be the difference between winning or losing a deal.
- 00:15:00 Brian Lewis discusses the approach that the best presales teams take when engaging with buyers. He emphasizes the importance of doing upfront research on the buyer and collaborating with the account executive to get the major pain points. He also talks about the benefits of leveraging asset distribution tools and making a plan to get the necessary information to fully engage with the buyer throughout the rest of the sales cycle. The mindset shift from selling to enabling, where the focus shifts from the seller to the buyer, is crucial for successful buyer enablement. By adopting this approach and making it as easy as possible for buying groups to buy from them, presales teams can make the buyer feel comfortable and respond effectively to their needs.
- 00:20:00 Brian Lewis emphasizes the importance of empowering the champion, who is the key stakeholder, to sell internally to other stakeholders in the buying committee, such as the CIO or CFO. The aim of buyer enablement is to make this complex journey of the buyer easier and to make them feel empowered. The speaker recommends collaborating not just with the account executive but also with the marketing team in preparation for engaging with the buyer. The best presales teams need to know what the buyer needs, what they know, what they have seen and done, and what they have shared before they engage. Additionally, the speaker highlights that the sales team should work as a team and collaborate to help the company grow by hitting revenue targets, eventually leading to an IPO or acquiring more funding.
- 00:25:00 Brian Lewis emphasizes the importance of buyer enablement and how it goes beyond collaborating with the sales team. By engaging with the marketing team and utilizing new tools, such as product assets and tracking, presales teams can gather valuable information about their potential buyers’ preferred features, used assets, and engagement history. Furthermore, Lewis encourages presales teams to own the technical evaluation process by getting all relevant information, including personal and professional background of buyers, which can be obtained from their public profiles. In reality, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming, thus, it’s essential to identify a subset of must-have information for the demo presentation to optimize success.
- 00:30:00 Brian Lewis discusses the technical attributes and “gotchas” that presales teams need to be aware of when engaging with buyers. This includes knowing the number of SKUs, customers, warehouses, and manufacturing plants, as well as whether the company runs promotions or rotates products. Additionally, it is important to understand the buying team and stakeholders, including their personalities, sense of urgency, and vision. Beyond these basics, presales teams should strive to understand what buyers already know and have done, including engaging with marketing and product assets. Finally, the speaker emphasizes the importance of having a plan in place for navigating calls or demos with limited information, including escalation procedures for when presales teams cannot agree with their account executive.
- 00:35:00 Brian Lewis speaks about the importance of collaboration among sales teams, and he introduces the idea of “structured flexibility” to allow for efficient use of resources in closing deals. He discusses leveraging a go-to-market Tech stack to acquire information as part of the preparation for engaging with customers, including content distribution tools, sales development tools, and sales enablement tools. Lewis then provides an illustrative example of how to use tools like Salesforce, Home Run, and Consensus to capture and manage information for the engagement, and emphasizes the importance of having a plan to get the information pre-sales teams need by knowing where information lives and how to get it.
- 00:40:00 Brian Lewis discusses how the best presales teams engage with buyers, highlighting how they prepare beforehand. He notes that by accessing information, such as Demolytics data, from the presales tool or connected applications, pre-sales teams can learn about a buyer’s needs and what questions they may want to ask. By creating evaluation plans, presales teams can establish best practices and standard operating procedures for how they engage with buyers, which can lead to a much happier buyer, build credibility, and help in leading them through a successful technical evaluation and closing the customer.
- 00:45:00 Brian Lewis discusses the importance of creating evaluation plans and playbooks to help presales teams prepare and engage with buyers. These playbooks should include best practices, standard operating procedures, and templates for each part of the process, allowing for structured flexibility in each deal. Lewis also explains the concept of presales warning signs to track progress throughout the plan and alert presales leadership of any areas where they are getting stuck. Additionally, Lewis provides advice on how to approach sales teams to focus on buyer enablement and how to apply the concept of “think global, act local” to enable buyers.
- 00:50:00 Brian Lewis discusses how sales teams engage with buyers, whether it’s inbound or outbound. With the abundance of information available through various go-to-market tools, sales teams can piece together a buyer’s profile and track their interaction with content. He also offers advice on using LinkedIn and choosing between private or public profile viewing, as well as the importance of presales management solutions in providing an effective and efficient environment for sales engineers. Additionally, he addresses the issue of organizational profitability and the limits of transactional sales teams.
00:55:00 Brian Lewis emphasizes the importance of considering profitability when approaching a deal. Even if the customer is small with lower ACD, the deal might still be worth doing if it has high signaling value or if it is a marquee customer. However, companies should also consider whether the deal is worth the time and effort and think about their profitability models to guide their decisions. Lastly, the speaker concludes the session by saying that those who want access to the shared slides can connect with him on LinkedIn to request it.