Dissecting the State of PreSales

Skye Downie Avatar photo

Our recent State of PreSales report for 2024 sparked numerous discussions about the profession’s evolution and tactical adjustments. To delve deeper, we hosted a webinar, “Dissecting the State of PreSales,” featuring Vivun’s VP of Solutions, Brett Crane, and CMO, Jarod Greene. During the session, Brett shared three standout discoveries based on his experience running a PreSales team and conversations with industry leaders—we’ll break down the highlights below.  

Organizational Structure—

The responsibilities of Technical Selling teams are becoming increasingly diverse, especially in terms of supporting the post-sale team. Currently, 63% of teams are involved in post-sale activities, while the growth rate of PreSales teams is either stagnant or declining. This ongoing trend, combined with economic challenges, has blurred the lines and evolved the role.

Brett emphasized how leaders are adapting to this new reality by addressing activities that fall outside the scope of the role. They are managing this by capturing the range of post-sales activities to allocate resources effectively and support other functions. In some cases, teams are expanding to include SE roles dedicated to customer support activities from a PreSales perspective. In other cases, while lacking resources, teams acknowledge the need and factor it into future headcount requirements based on post-sale demand. Considering these tasks in compensation plans can also incentivize SEs and make them feel valued for their work.

Taking a non-traditional approach to resource allocation, some teams utilize Demo Automation tools beyond their “normal” Top of Funnel use cases. This provides technical expertise on product best practices and value realization for the post-sale team without requiring full involvement from the SE.

Budgeting & Planning—

Looking ahead to 2024, the majority of teams have reported an increase in their budget. However, there is a shift in the allocation of this budget, with a move away from headcount and towards software and programs. This trend aligns with the broader focus of the technology industry on efficiency and effectiveness, rather than pursuing growth at any cost.

While funding for the PreSales team is not being cut, there is an expectation that the role will evolve to leverage technology for increased productivity. AI remains a hot topic across the industry, and PreSales is no exception. AI tools, such as Vivun’s SE Copilot, are poised to support PreSales teams in working smarter than ever before. This shift indicates that the profession is moving towards improving the day-to-day lives of SEs and reducing burnout by automating tasks where possible. Ultimately, the budget adjustments are nothing to fear but an opportunity to enhance the PreSales team’s impact and improve the quality of life for SEs.

Analytics & Insights—

As PreSales teams take on a wider range of responsibilities and prepare to adopt new tools, having access to accurate analytics and KPIs becomes increasingly crucial for showcasing their abilities. However, a significant number of respondents (around 70%) found it challenging to obtain the specific KPIs needed to effectively communicate the impact of their teams. Among those who faced difficulties, the majority (59%) identified data quality as the main contributing factor. This is not surprising considering the diverse nature of an SE’s work, which often involves tasks not directly owned by the SE themselves. Thus, leaders in this field must find innovative ways to address this challenge.

Brett emphasized the importance of identifying the most relevant KPIs for your team and establishing a solid process for tracking them. While SEs may not have complete ownership over opportunities, they can still have a significant impact by focusing on the areas they do own and measuring their effectiveness in those domains. This approach facilitates better communication of the overall impact of SEs. However, it is crucial to ensure executive buy-in when selecting KPIs to track and to make it as easy as possible for the PreSales team to input this information. Additionally, clear communication should be maintained at the company level to explain how these metrics are being utilized, so it doesn’t feel like an extra burden or an attempt to micromanage.

Taking into account all of the metrics discussed, PreSales teams are set to take on more responsibility, while unlocking new software and efficiency but have a heightened expectation to streamline their ability to communicate their team’s performance. As we continue to charge ahead in 2024, consider what investments will make the greatest impact on your team, whether it be software, people, or practices, and utilize them to make SE’s quality of life better and more effective. To uncover more from the conversation, you can watch the whole session on-demand here.

Skye Downie Avatar photo February 14, 2024