From Presales to Product Marketing and Back Again

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

Careers are like seasons, ever-changing, and also cyclical. The sun has set on the year 2020, and it’s a great time to reflect. In the spirit of looking back to go forward, here’s the story of why and how I joined Vivun as the first-ever Presales Evangelist.

Last winter I spoke on a panel at an SE meetup with Matt Darrow, CEO, and founder at Vivun, who happened to be sponsoring the event. I wondered, “Who is this guy, and why haven’t I heard of this awesome new platform?” We kept in contact, and exactly one year later, here I am, starting my dream job, during a raging pandemic. What are the odds? Pretty high, it turns out, because the best leaders are always recruiting, and because Vivun is growing like crazy despite this challenging year.

Why Vivun, and why now?

The rise of Product-led impact on modern organizations is reaching the same magnitude as the software development paradigm shift from Waterfall to Agile. Thus, the opportunity for Product Management teams to innovate and drive growth is astronomical. Still, their outcomes are only as good as the speed to market insights driving their product decisions.

Presales holds the market data that will keep your product vision ahead of the curve. Vivun transforms feature wish lists into actionable insights for crushing your competition and driving revenue. I couldn’t pass by the chance to join this revolution led by our customers like Snowflake, Okta, and Twilio. What’s more, many of my former colleagues are already transforming their Presales teams into their company’s most strategic assets by scaling their tribal knowledge with Hero by Vivun.

How I became a Presales Evangelist

I joined Vivun, hailing most recently from Optimizely. Ten years of experience working at start-ups comes with many hats, time zones, and tons of grit. I started in community management for a peer-to-peer marketing place and quickly realized that I wanted to be closer to the technology. So, I decided that night classes in software development were a good place to start. I learned enough to land a job as a technical project manager for a small dev shop in San Francisco. It was there that my colleagues unknowingly helped build my Presales foundation. Working side by side with incredibly talented (and patient) software engineers, and making the occasional code commit earned me some nerd cred. My clients taught me how to empathize, uncover the “why,” and whether they meant to or not, they showed me how compelling financial things happen when you ask: “Can I scope that for you?” It turned out that a knack for problem-solving paired with a responsible focus on revenue was a pretty good path to Presales.

Years later, I found myself looking for a change. I had no idea what a “Mobile Engagement Consultant” was. When I read the job description, I found that it was all about working with prospects and customers to demonstrate the benefits of a mobile analytics and marketing technology and how it would work in their apps. This was something that I could do! After joining the team, I found out the company was trying to rebrand the “Solutions Engineer,” and in the end, the original title stuck.

Fast forward a few more years, and I found myself in Product Marketing. I loved Presales, and I also had an urge to scale the things I was doing for individual deals to impact more prospects and customers. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise that I was on the shortlist of internal folks our CMO had in mind for arming the Product Marketing team. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with world-class product marketers. I liked to say that they gave me PMM superpowers; little did I know how on brand this would be now that I work on a platform called Hero.

Wait, what’s a Presales Evangelist?

As far as I know, I’ll be the first Presales Evangelist on record. I suppose this gives me some agency for developing the definition. In the meantime, Vivun describes it as someone with product marketing chops and in-depth knowledge of the Presales landscape, including hands-on experience working in technical sales. The idea is that I’ll have real-world context when I am driving awareness of the importance of Presales through webinars, events, and podcasts. Meanwhile, my product marketing background will power Vivun messaging, positioning, and product launches.

In short, Presales Evangelism at Vivun is the matrimony of my two greatest professional loves—Product Marketing and Presales. A match made in heaven (sigh).

If you’re interested in sharing a Presales story, or would like to learn more about how Hero by Vivun channels SE masterminds into the revenue-driving brain of your company, you can reach out to us here.

Aaron Sun Avatar photo January 4, 2021