In today’s digital sales era, the presales engineer is critical to driving sales. While the word “presales” implies that this professional supports activities before “closing” the sale, they also play a key role in expanding, upselling and cross selling opportunities that generate revenue. Presales professionals work towards both landing new business and expanding within the current base of business as buyers look to them as trusted technical advisors.

Addressing the Question: What is Presales?

With growing pressures by shareholders to maximize enterprise value quickly, the C-suite can leverage presales and establish a clear presales meaning to boost sales. Here are five areas where individual contributors in presales can optimize the middle of the funnel.

(1)   Technical Discovery. While sales development representatives and account executives may qualify the prospect for buying and purchase intent, your sales engineer can qualify  the prospect to see if they are a technical fit for the products and solutions you offer. Introducing presales early in your sales funnel  will allow you to filter out prospects that are not a technical fit.  It also  ensures that the investments you make later in the sales funnel are focused on prospects that are a technical fit for your offerings. Reduce funnel noise and increase signal on opportunities worth pursuing.

(2)  Product Presentation. When it comes to the products and solutions being sold, it is common for account executives to rely on presales to deliver a bulk of the sales presentation. The presales professional is well versed in  the merits of the technology within the products and solutions and can determine how those merits may effectively meet the needs of the prospect. It’s during this phase of the sales cycles that the sales engineer establishes their technical credibility. By enabling presales to convey a powerful and inspiring story and show the art of the possible, you will help optimize conversions and differentiate from presales who focus only on features and functions. Inspire prospects, better understand needs, and convert to the next stage of the funnel.

(3)   Product Demonstration. Presales effectiveness in demonstrating how the product can meet the prospect’s needs will determine if the prospect wants to experience, or in some cases, buy the product. Compare that to a poor demo that focuses on features and functions and fails to fall in line with what the prospect cares about, which can easily result in losing that opportunity. Ensure that your presales engineers are trained to effectively tell and show a story that resonates with the prospect.  Establish product value, make the sale, or drive towards evaluation.

(4)   Solution Development. In the scenarios where presales must develop solutions that are composed of various products, ensure that presales engineers have access and understanding of the prospect’s architectural needs, your company’s products strengths and weaknesses, and knowledge of how your company can deliver a solution that can meet both architecture and business requirements. Utilize the product portfolio to develop the right solutions for your prospects to win the deal.

(5)   Evaluation Management.  Presales are better positioned to establish the value of a product in the prospect’s mind when they can more effectively manage  proof of concepts (POCs), proof of values (POVs), and guided trials, pilots and workshops. They also have more success when they use templates and known playbooks that have a track record of winning the business. While evaluations can be an expensive company investment, they’re also  one of the closest steps to getting the deal. Effectively managing evaluations and increasing your conversion “technical win” conversions can significantly drive up your bookings.  

A Word about Presales Compensation and the Impact on Revenue Quota

Median presales compensation — fully loaded,  including benefits — can easily reach  $200,000 per year. And depending on the number of presales professionals, compensation can represent a significant cost to the company. For instance, a 10-person presales team could represent a $2M fully loaded cost (10 presales x $200,000/year). 

But the important thing to note is that ratio of presales engineers to account executives  can be anywhere from 1:3 to 1:15, with a median of 1:4. So if you take a scenario in which you have 10 presales supporting 40 account executives(a 1:4 ratio), and each account executive has a $1M quota, that implies that the presales and sales engineers are actually supporting a $40M revenue quota.

This is one of the reasons  it is important for the C-suite to empower presales leadership to run the business and boost sales productivity with the right presales tools, training and people. 

As we’ve demonstrated,  presales professionals are  critical to successfully increasing conversions. When the C-suite invests in presales and add presales meaning for their organization, it can impact the presales activities that optimize the middle of the funnel, ultimately boosting sales productivity and generating more revenue for the company.