“A Plan for Optimizing Your PreSales Team’s Performance”

Sam Wortman September 2, 2021

The key to building a successful organization lies in identifying the ideal expectations for each team member to meet while having a systematic way to assess those expectations across every position with consistency. 

The same is true for PreSales. Creating a framework for PreSales professionals—from associates to managers and beyond—to meet and exceed expectations helps managers and individuals maximize their potential and remain accountable to performance measures formalized. 

Without a performance plan, ensuring expectations of every team member are met is difficult, and the roles of PreSales professionals become ill-defined, imprecise, and impossible to measure. Illustrating the goals and expectations of every team member, no matter the position, ensures that individuals are aware of the performance expectations that their job title carries, have pathways to promotions, and that they are treated equally within the organization. 

Outlining a PreSales performance plan and assessment

Performance plans and assessments should be focused on bringing out the best of every PreSales professional, providing transparency to job titles, and ensuring team members always know the expectations of their position in the organization. They also establish a baseline for comparison among all hires of a specific level and should be given to new hires on day one. 

Every effective PreSales performance plan and assessment should address these three items:

  1. The characteristics and expectations of a strong PreSales professional at every level, from associate to management
  2. How to systematically test and score those characteristics and expectations 
  3. Career goals that each individual hopes to achieve in their time with the company and beyond

To further break down the outline above, consider creating KPIs for SEs under the following categories: PreSales Execution (Experience and Results), PreSales Knowledge (Business and Technical Acumen), Customer Interaction (Presence and Soft Skills), and Work Ethic and Leadership. 

Managers should have KPIs measured based on the above categories and along with: Management Expectation, Management Execution, and Team Building & Collaboration.

And don’t forget that it’s always important to consider short-term to long-term career goals and to include them in discussions surrounding PreSales performance. As an SE manager, this is a great way to empower team members as communicating about overarching career goals builds trust and understanding between the individual and manager.

KPIs to consider for each PreSales position

KPIs for Associate SEs

  • Executes responsibilities required during each step of the sales process
  • Manages administrative tasks such as updating the Funnel, logging opportunities and feedback in Hero and SFDC
  • Consistently leverages monthly release features in product positioning, demonstrations, and competitive differentiation
  • Functional understanding of product capabilities
  • Understands and leverages technical differentiators to win against competition
  • Establishes credibility as technical expert and trusted advisor with client
  • Engages in effective two sided discovery through listening, curiosity, and open-ended questions
  • Brings a positive attitude focused on problem solving and making the complex possible
  • Team player and shares best practices with team members through multiple channels (Slack, Team calls, one-on-one’s, etc.)

KPIs for Senior & Principal SEs

This list includes all the above KPIs for associate level SEs and with the addition of: 

  • Effectively manages 3rd parties and partner integrated demonstrations as part of sales engagement
  • Shapes prospect RFP’s and RFI’s in their favor
  • Anticipates technical hurdles, develops a plan to address them, and leads the resolution
  • Effectively leads and manages complex proof-of-concepts
  • Accurately qualifies the technical fit of the solution and partners with the AE in sales qualification
  • Consistently contributes to closing new business
  • Knowledgeable about product’s 3-6 month roadmap and uses during sales campaign when appropriate
  • Develops lasting client relationships and helps the company drive reference calls, client speakers, event attendance, etc.
  • Consistently identifies and builds technical champions during the sales process
  • Collaborates well with senior executives and can drive alignment
  • Effectively coaches and mentors new and existing SEs
  • Articulates the technical win strategy and action plans to internal and external participants

KPIs for SE Managers

  • Focuses 60% on management and 40% on individual opportunities
  • Enforces the PreSales engagement process with sales and is comfortable dealing with sales pressures
  • Leads formal performance review process for direct reports semi-annually
  • Establishes goals, clarifies responsibilities, sets priorities & milestones for direct reports
  • Inspect and enforce team contribution to SFDC and Hero for data tracking
  • In coordination with recruiting, achieve hiring targets with quality candidates
  • Communicate effectively through regularly scheduled team meetings with thoughtful agendas
  • Drives accountability of technical closure and aids team members in the resolution of gaps
  • Consistently contributes to closing new business
  • Master of product capabilities
  • Proficient across PreSales training content: whiteboards, presentations, demonstrations, etc.
  • Knowledgeable about product’s 3-6 month roadmap and uses during sales campaign when appropriate
  • Can articulate technical customer success stories across each core vertical
  • Understands and applies technical differentiators against competitors to win business

These are just a few examples of KPIs to measure and assess SE and SE manager performance. All the KPIs mentioned above cover one or more of the performance categories defined in the outline. 

Scoring KPIs

For each of the KPIs mentioned, I suggest using a scoring system (1-5):

1- Outstanding                                        4- Improvement expected

2- Exceeds expectations                        5- Too new to rate

3- Successfully achieves expectations

The scoring system should be used by individuals and managers alike. Having an individual score themselves on the same KPIs their manager does helps address any inconsistencies in perceived performance and acts as a reality check. The scoring system also establishes a standard form of measurement for all PreSales team members to rate their performance and guarantees each individual is scored fairly and accurately.

Where can you find a performance plan with this information?

We are excited to announce we will soon be releasing our fully customizable and interactive performance plan and assessment assets that define the expectations of each PreSales position from Associate SE to VP of SE. Every component mentioned in this post and more can be found there. 

Always remember that performance plans and assessments are ultimately about building first-class teams that drive impact and inspiring people to do great work. To unlock the potential of PreSales professionals start by developing a clear and concise plan that outlines and measures the expectations and goals of each PreSales position within the organization.

Sam Wortman September 2, 2021