Introducing: The First Benchmark Study for Presales

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

Vivun is thrilled to have recently completed our first Benchmark Report — The State of Presales in Summer 2020. We’re the first to have produced a study based on the input and responses of Presales leadership, a segment that’s starving for best practices and documented benchmarks.

We’re going to quickly move on and do the next one, bigger and better, but first let’s talk about what we learned.

What We Did

We surveyed Presales leaders at businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies with dozens of questions covering topics ranging from average underassign to the amount of time Presales spends supporting CSMs and post-sale activity in different market segments. 

From all the responses we received, we identified four key insights.

  1. Let me talk, darn you. This one is about the sales forecast. 91% of respondents want to play a larger role in the forecast, and implicitly there’s a suggestion that respondents are frustrated that this hasn’t been allowed to happen.

Vivun believes that Presales should absolutely be central to the sales forecast. That team is the technical conscience of each deal, and has a lens on it that no one else has. An account rep may put a deal in Commit, but it’s possible that Presales is still doing early stage discovery!

One of our interviewees for the report, Marc Gemassmer, CRO at, put it this way: “Whenever I’m in a room full of Presales people, one of my favorite questions to ask is, ‘How many of you are working on a deal that has 0% chance of closing?’ And every single time, every hand in the room goes up. Every time.”

  1. Ka-ching. Compensation is all over the map. You may have standard models, such as 70% fixed and 30% variable, but even those models are not the same from company to company.

    Another interviewee for the report, the VP of Solutions Engineering at Xactly, said, “Whenever I’ve arrived at a new organization, the conversation about Presales compensation seems to begin all over again.”
  1. We admire your dedication, but… Dedicated ratios don’t work in all markets, especially when you’re going down market. Lots of companies struggle with this–but we have some interesting comments from a key sales leader at Stripe who says that you have to do it differently when you’re trying to support the same amount of complexity even if the company size is smaller.
  1. Hey Product people, listen up. There’s a real lack of conversation going back and forth between Presales and the Product team, which is a real shame given that Presales is closest to the exact information that Product needs–why is someone going to buy, and when, and what’s stopping them?

    Instead of drowning in feature requests from the Sales team, Product executives should be paying close attention to the intelligence that Presales captures every single day. So what should be done–and how did one particular company solve the problem?

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, we think our study reveals that organizations are underestimating the strategic value of presales. And that’s more than just a run-of-the-mill mistake–it’s a potentially catastrophic one. From our standpoint, we see a tectonic shift happening in the world of sales and presales, driven by a convergence of

  • Products becoming more sophisticated with foundations in AI/ML, Big Data, and IoT
  • Product-led growth driven by the surge in SaaS products and ease of access through trials, meaning that buyers can easily get their hands on the software.
  •  Buyers who want to deal with experts during the evaluation and when they become customers.

When these trends converge, who is going to have the power in the sale? The person who simply runs transactions, or the technical professional who knows how to show true value to the prospect?

The future of selling is Presales…but organizations are still waking up to that fact.

Read our whole Benchmark Study here. And if you want to sign up to participate in our next one (only respondents get access to the full data and respondent answers), you can do that right here.

Aaron Sun Avatar photo August 31, 2020