A Pulse on PreSales Priorities in 2024: What we Learned from the UNXPCTD Roadshow

Victoria Myers Avatar photo

When PreSales professionals unite in person, magic happens. The excitement, connections, and knowledge-sharing are unbeatable. For those unable to join us in San Francisco in October, we took the energy and insights from UNXPCTD on the road to Boston, New York, Seattle, and Denver. 

Joined by incredible UNXPCTD speakers and our CEO and former PreSales leader, Matt Darrow, we met SE leaders for a unique roundtable discussion and annual planning workshop in each city. The goal: share priorities, initiatives, and common challenges facing the field in 2024.

Here’s what we learned along the way.

We’re Entering a Key Moment of Change

The battle to earn buyer trust and shorten customer time-to-value increases demands on and for SE expertise earlier in deals and throughout the customer lifecycle. Yet, as PreSales expands in scope and importance, the investment in dedicated SE technology represents the tiniest fraction of the $19B in revenue tech spend, according to Gartner. 

PreSales leaders are left to get creative, redesigning operating models and rules of engagement to increase capacity, then fighting for technology budget in the most impactful areas.

PreSales Models are Expanding Post-Sale

Several teams are actively reorganizing to formally recognize a shift in balance of work toward supporting existing customers. Different teams are planning different approaches, including compensating on renewals, moving away from ratio-based models, having SEs provide full-lifecycle support (replacing CSMs), or creating small teams of post-sale SEs.

PLG or Consumption-based companies might find it most natural to move to the full-lifecycle PreSales org. However, even without a full restructure, teams are implementing new ways to protect SE time from unqualified deals. This can range from increasing Sales self-sufficiency (via training or demo automation tooling) to gating access to PreSales resources with forms and qualification criteria.

Another capacity-increasing tweak: “going digital” by investing in technology to improve collaboration among Sales, PreSales, and Product teams. Software can often be obtained for a fraction of the financial and opportunity cost of additional SE or AE headcount. But, justifying PreSales tooling constitutes an uphill battle given the aforementioned bias of revenue tech investments. The key is to showcase the lift to the organization as a whole, not just PreSales, and to align asks with company-wide objectives.

Data is an Internal Equalizer

Whether you’re campaigning for more budget or a $0 process improvement, navigating change management in risk-intolerant economic environment is daunting. It’s critical to speak in the objective language of data, framing proposed changes in the context of predictable revenue outcomes and risk reduction. 

For example, decreasing forecast risk, improving the accuracy of R&D investments, and removing waste from GTM processes should be invaluable to your cross-functional peers. Because PreSales sits at the intersection of sales acumen and technical expertise, SEs are uniquely positioned to provide this data, accurately, to the benefit of your entire company.

Essential PreSales metrics discussed are:

  • Deal Lift: Difference in win rate or number of SKUs with vs. without PreSales attached
  • Efforts by Revenue Impact: Win rate, ACV, or number of SKUs when certain activities are performed vs. when they are not
  • PreSales Deal Sentiment (from Brian Cotter, SVP Sales Engineering & Value Consulting, Seismic): PreSales rating of deal risk on each opportunity
  • Contribution Margin (from Brian Oehling, Global Head PreSales SMB, SAP Concur): ROI for every dollar spent on PreSales

For a comprehensive guide to what metrics matter, how to obtain them, and how to build a value case for your SE team, see this PreSales Planning Toolkit

In Conclusion

With the economic turbulence of the past year shaking B2B to its core, the pressures on and opportunities for PreSales have never been greater. Entering 2024, we’re seeing theoretical discussions of new models burst into real-world orgs, and PreSales teams are using data to creatively carve a seat at the executive table.

If you’d like to participate in executive-only thought leadership discussions and networking with other PreSales leaders, join the PreSales Xpert Community. Membership is free and exclusive to Director+ level leaders. 

Victoria Myers Avatar photo December 13, 2023