PreSales Executive, Susan Beal, Pushes Peers to Own the Buyer Experience

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

“Most companies today are putting buyers through a sales process, not a buying experience…Today’s buyer does not have patience for that less than agile experience,” said BlueYonder CVP of PreSales, Susan Beal when she took the UNXPCTD stage alongside G2 CEO Godard Abel and Synk CMO, Jeff Yoshimura.

While Abel and Yoshimura represented C-level GTM perspectives on the crisis of trust buyers are seeing in B2B and the importance of Product-led Growth (PLG) respectively, Beal advocated for PreSales leaders to take on these challenges. In an enterprise environment fraught with big promises, complex procurement processes, and daunting revenue targets, only solution experts can establish the trust that today’s sales-proof buyers need.

Before joining the executive BlueYonder, Beal spent 25 years in enterprise software spanning Sales, post-sales, and PreSales. As Infor’s Global Chief Customer Officer, she is no stranger to the importance of the Customer Experience (CX). Upon returning to her passion—PreSales—it’s no wonder that her attention has turned to the buyer experience where her organization can apply its solutions to transform a customer’s business.

In the past, Beal wrangled internally built systems for her teams. Having been down the homegrown path before, she decided to take a different approach when she joined BlueYonder. Through the process of evaluating and implementing solutions for her PreSales organization, she had the opportunity to put herself in the buyer’s shoes. This provided a deeper understanding of what B2B buyers are experiencing today. The rise of PLG, remote work, and the sales-proof buyer have brought products and expertise at the center of effective selling strategies.

Buyers Want to Move Quickly

Time-starved, tech-savvy customers come to the table with immense knowledge about the solutions they are evaluating. Having independently researched your products, they expect a whole new level of service from businesses wishing to gain their loyalty, and the buyer expects access to these solution experts right away—the days of waiting 3-4 weeks for a demo are gone.

According to Abel, who presented new research data from G2, 54% of software buyers take fewer than three months to make a purchase decision of over $20,000.

This makes a great deal of sense in the product-led picture Yoshimura painted, where individual users expect to be able to get started for free, perhaps even upgrade without talking to a human, and start seeing value right away. He called this GTM motion a “bottom-up” approach and pointed out that it is powered by automation and self-service products that fit buyer’s needs.

But time is relative, and in the complex world of large enterprise purchases, the process involves many more steps to accommodate things like strategy, change management, nuanced use cases, and product expertise. Yoshimura used Gartner’s illustration of the buying journey to acknowledge the need for a 2-pronged GTM approach in order to go up market and set up these kinds of customers for success.

In his words, “solution expertise drives the top-down approach.” And in this GTM motion, PreSales is invaluable.

PreSales must own the Buyer Experience

It comes down to this essential question: Who “owns’ the buyer journey in your organization? Beal has found that too often the customer experience conversation is relegated to post-deployment and centered around renewals. She asserts that companies need to begin the customer journey at the buyer’s journey and for teams to be aligned to deliver exceptional experiences from conversation one. 

Beal called PreSales into action as the group that is uniquely equipped to meet buyer’s changing expectations. Now is the time to evaluate what is and is not working with the experience your company is delivering to buyers. She urged leaders like herself to align with key folks in the organization including Product, Revenue Leadership, and Sales Ops to maximize how you scale through technology and partners. When the right tools and processes are in place, PreSales can not only deliver an incredible experience for their buyers, they drive critical KPIs within the revenue cycle and land more referenceable customers–a leading indicator of success given the emphasis buyers place on peer reviews and product reputations. To make the necessary changes in the buyer experience, you can’t “stay in your lane”. Come to the table with a vision, and be ready to execute.

She addresses not only PreSales leaders but executives and challenges them to focus on the buyer experience, aligning teams, and driving ownership to accelerate revenue and unlock growth. “Now is the time to create the necessary alignment across the silos in front of your prospects to reimagine the buying experience. The PreSales leader needs a seat at the table to define the process and ownership of the outcomes—they can probably even drive it.”

Check out Beal’s full talk and all the other sessions from UNXPCTD.

Aaron Sun Avatar photo June 13, 2022