PreSales is the Sauce: Finding Winning Product-Market Fit

Sam Wortman Avatar photo

Like the pursuits of happiness, good beer, and a great slice of pizza, these days every company wants to find winning product-market fit. 

Companies are willing to go to incredible lengths to find victorious product visions that are the outcome of having a real-time pulse on customer needs without relying on tribal knowledge, gut feelings, or biased market research. 

It’s paramount that companies get credible product feedback and iterate it at a lightning-fast pace to meet today’s consumer demands. 

 But that’s hard and requires rethinking conventional sales behavior, systems, and the flow of information. 

The new world dynamics are driven by self-service trials, freemium models, and test drives that let customers investigate products well before the point of purchase. The outcome is highly educated buyers who want highly technical sales professionals, and they expect nothing but excellence throughout the entire customer journey. 

Wondering what department and individuals to task with finding winning product-market fit? 

I suggest PreSales. 

I’ll tell you why. 

How and where a company collects product feedback is critical to the success of the solution. Half-baked market research in the forms of gift cards (bribes) promised after surveys and gut feelings derived from staring at a Kanban Board for hours, doesn’t cut it and boobytraps you from the start. 

The best market research is conducted in real-time through virtual or physical interactions with customers that garner information about the industry, products, and competition. 

Therefore, you need someone who’s in the thick of it, giving demos of the product and working with individual contributors and leaders on a daily basis. 

That’s PreSales. 

They are at the intersection of where people, technology, process, and data collection meet to understand customer needs. 

PreSales, unlike any other department in a company, interacts with customers across the entire buyer journey, from evaluation to expansion, which gives them unparalleled exposure to authentic and sometimes hard-hitting customer feedback. 

They are also ideally positioned to see where the market is at and going within the next 12-36 months by working with customers who have not purchased a product yet but are plotting their future strategies. 

And because of the close proximity to the product, PreSales can answer critical questions that inform product-market fit such as: Why have prospects not purchased the product yet or perhaps never will? What will make customers stay? What are the technical gaps and how severe are they? How much money are customers willing to spend on the solution?

Basically, PreSales is a treasure trove of product and market insights.

Let’s look at a few examples of companies whose PreSales departments have helped them find winning product-fit. 

The rapid explosion of product-led growth has resulted in modern fast growth software companies like Snowflake, Twilo, and Autodesk fortifying their PreSales departments to help identify product and opportunity gaps as well as areas of potential growth. 

All three of these organizations have successfully identified product-market fit—in large part—because PreSales has been able to influence the rapid iteration of their products to meet customers’ needs in the field. By pitching and giving demos, listening to customers’ concerns, delivering practical feedback to engineers, and then pitching again, these PreSales professionals are highly responsive to customers and plugged into the market. 

It’s clear when companies use PreSales to capture reliable product feedback, they can help product teams prioritize and build game-changing features at light speed that ultimately result in achieving the elusive product-market fit. 

If companies want to succeed in this software-driven world, PreSales professionals’ knowledge of product feedback needs to be cultivated to help product teams build and customers expand their use cases. It is now crucial for PreSales departments to own the entire process of connecting products to customer needs in the field. 

I like to think of it like this—every smart company wants to be like that pizza place or brewery you can’t go without. And to make the best slice in the neighborhood—to find your winning product-market fit—you need PreSales whipping it up in the kitchen. 

Sam Wortman Avatar photo June 25, 2021