Presales is Hungry for a True Platform, and They’re Tired of Leftovers

Presales is Hungry for Leftovers
Matt Darrow Matt Darrow

Presales is one of the key strategic teams in a company; their contribution is critical to maintaining and increasing deal velocity. And typically, due to the unique skill sets they represent — a vast storehouse of technical knowledge mixed in with genuine selling and storytelling skills — they don’t come cheap. So when it comes to systems for managing their workflow, reporting on their metrics and success, and influencing the product roadmap, why are they forced to make do with the table scraps and leftovers from other teams?

Everyone else gets the equivalent of a feast. Sales gets Salesforce (okay, reps may not be thrilled about having to use it, but no one contests that it’s the one, true source of truth when it comes to Sales data).

Customer success has their Gainsight; support has their Intercoms and Zendesk, accounting gets their Financial Force; marketing gets their Hubspots and Marketos. What does presales get?

In many cases, they have to content themselves with nibbling on breadcrumbs — cramming their work into a custom field within Salesforce, or even worse, entering everything into an Excel spreadsheet. Then they get leftovers from everywhere else, going to six different places just to run their teams and manage their deliverables:

  • Custom objects and fields in the CRM
  • Collaboration tools via Asana and Workboard
  • Timesheets in Siebel
  • Notetaking in Box or GDrive — but nothing that truly shares information across the teams
  • Forecasting is often handled by Clari, but without taking the presales technical conscience into account
  • Jira as a dumping ground for presales product insights (that no one ever bothers to read)
  • And when it comes to managing resource assignments? It’s often one-off Slack requests, or simply the rep with the loudest voice and the biggest expense report dragging the sales engineer wherever they want. Not a great way to make fantastic use of some of the most skilled and valuable personnel in the organization.

The problem with all of this is threefold:

  • It’s not easy for presales to do the work. Presales aren’t just a costly team in terms of headcount, but they have very complex workflows. Often you have a presales person managing multiple opportunities that require different technical skills and a different set of deliverables — and they all have to perform flawlessly across each deal. But there’s no platform that allows them to perform to their potential.
  • Leadership has no presales data. If CROs live and die by the data in Salesforce, they have a huge blind spot because there’s no real data piped into the CRM from the presales team. And that means a lack of clarity in regards to any number of things: product gaps, forecasting clarity based on presales technical assessment of the deal — even the patterns of deliverables and technical owners that typically lead to the best outcome for opportunities.
  • No one knows what they don’t know. There’s no overall hub or platform that provides visibility across each presales team member — so how do we know which ones are effective? Which ones should get promoted? Which ones should we emulate in terms of future hires in order to improve our selling outcomes?

Although leadership suffers huge blind spots, it’s fair to say that individual contributors suffer the most. Again, if they have to manage their day using a combination of Salesforce, Excel, Gdrive, Asana, Jira, and Box, then you have smart, valuable people who are going hungry for lack of a platform designed with their world in mind.

Let’s take a very brief look at how we’ve created Vivun to be a feast for presales — a platform built by presales professionals who understand the needs and workflow of presales people better than anyone else. We’ll just touch on the life of the individual contributor here.

I already mentioned that taking notes is often a matter of using Box or Gdrive. But shouldn’t Presales have their own universe of notetaking and collaboration — to say nothing of templates — given how complex their day is? Here’s how Vivun visualizes the life of one individual, who is managing — as always — tons of opportunities and deal flow.

That is not for the timid!

When it comes to taking notes on these deals, the presales person is going to want to collaborate with her peers directly — and not worry about whether those peers are using some sort of separate program. That’s why we have Notes built into the platform, giving a collaboration tool that the entire presales organization can use across deals:

And wouldn’t it be nice if these notes can be turned into manager-approved templates to use on each deal, rather than burrow around in a Gdrive trying to find the same?

Once the notes are done for the deal, the individual contributor will want to zoom out and see what else she has to do for the day. Activities and deliverables are always there, waiting for her, so she can manage and prioritize her most critical tasks.

The beauty of these productivity tools, aside from making life easier for presales, is that it starts to accumulate the data required to bubble up into the master dashboards — everything from our Hero Score, which helps enhance forecast accuracy, to the Opportunity Gap dashboards that help presales shape the organization’s product roadmap.

That’s great for management — but for presales teams on the front lines, the news is even better. They can finally feast at a platform built for their needs, and not have to starve waiting around for someone to throw them yet another unused Custom Object.

Matt Darrow Matt Darrow August 26, 2020