Lessons Learned from the Salesforce Ventures CEO Summit for PreSales Teams

Matt Darrow Matt Darrow

As a former Sales Engineering executive, it’s gratifying to see 3rd party validation of the strategic importance of PreSales from major analysts like Gartner:

“A failure to invest in the Sales Engineering function can position CEOs at a significant disadvantage.”

-Gartner, June 2023, “Tech CEOs Must Leverage Sales Engineers to Improve Sales Effectiveness”

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to witness it again, at the Salesforce Ventures annual CEO Summit.

In a session on “Selling in 2024,” Miro and Salesforce called out the need for more technical acumen in the sales process. These industry leaders are investing in PreSales and engaging them earlier in the sales process. They’re rewriting the traditional playbook of AE/SE collaboration and exploring new ways to scale Technical Sales expertise via leveraging new org structures and technology.

But what does this mean from the perspective of PreSales leaders and SEs?

Later in the week, I was invited to speak to the full Technical Sales team of a Fortune 500 customer. They dedicated a half day to “Vivun-Con,” an exploration of how PreSales technology is evolving to keep SEs ahead of the game. 

It was an honor to share my thoughts on how the top B2B trends create opportunities for Technical Sales:

1. PreSales and Customer Success are on a collision course.

With retention a top priority for revenue leaders (2024 State of PreSales Report), SEs are increasingly involved in post-sales efforts. In many cases, team roles and responsibilities are adapting to this priority based on the type of product and sales motion they use.

For example, in some sales-led companies, certain SEs are allocated to post-sales work, while at the other extreme, in consumption-led orgs, SEs manage the entire customer journey and remain attached to accounts.

Bottom line, companies want more SE engagement and are constructing new ways to make it happen.

2. The C-Suite is Actively Looking to AI for New Competitive Advantages

Companies know they can’t “do more with less” by simply adding headcount proportionate. Leaders want to invest in next-gen tools to scale capacity.

According to Gartner research, 87% of CROs are considering or already using AI because of its potential to disproportionately impact revenue growth (15% predicted increase).

Bottom line, you must leverage new technology or you’ll get left behind. But you must leverage it correctly. 

Gartner cautions that it’s important to strategically deploy AI so that it becomes a force multiplier, rather than a burden for sales teams (Read the report, Make Technology a Teammate). 

3. Generative AI is Coming (or has Arrived) to Your Products

Generative AI has forced GTM and Product teams to adapt to an unprecedented pace of change. Winning companies will integrate new AI use cases to add differentiated value for customers or risk being disrupted. 

What does this mean for PreSales? 

First, Expertise. With GenAI, new stakeholders (i.e., Legal and Security) become a larger part of the buying process. To get deals done, SEs will need to be able to intelligently and confidently discuss their use of GenAI.

Second, GenAI can benefit your own product and pace of innovation, ensuring your roadmap is responsive to customer needs. Sales and Product team alignment has never been more important. 

When I was a Product leader, our PreSales team was my secret weapon: a critical lever for me to understand what’s happening with prospects and customers.

At Vivun, our GenAI capabilities are dedicated to collecting and organizing feedback from buyers and surfacing data-driven priorities for R&D teams.

Conclusion

There has never been a better time to be in PreSales! The movement that has accelerated over the last 5 years is set to change in big ways over the next 5 years. To recap: 

  • Retention and expansion is a top priority, shifting how Pre and Post-Sales teams operate and cooperate. 
  • CROs want to bring new abilities to their teams with AI. Teams of the future will use new technologies as force multipliers (Supercharged SEs). 
  • The GenAI wave means that alignment between Sales and Product has never been more important. PreSales insights are the critical cross-functional connective tissue. 

At Vivun, we’ve seen these trends coming, which is why we’ve focused from the beginning on helping SEs increase their abilities and scale their impact internally (cross-functionally) and externally (across the customer lifecycle).

We help you operationalize Technical Sales insights across your business to run the best process, build the best products, and give the best demos. 

The result? Secure technical wins faster while reducing cost of sale. 

To learn more, take a tour: Your Sales Team’s Technical Copilot.

Matt Darrow Matt Darrow April 8, 2024