Three Reasons Sales Tools Aren’t Working for Your PreSales Team

Clay Killgore

I’ve lived for years as a PreSales engineer using Sales-centric tools to capture activities, run the technical forecast, and gather product insights from the field. Here are some of my thoughts on why that approach doesn’t work well, and how to get your PreSales team where they need to be successful. 

Sales and PreSales are partners, but they have different priorities 

Let’s face it, while we work hand-in-hand with our Sales partners to get deals marked “Closed Won”, PreSales views opportunities through a distinctly different lens. One example is that Sales stages differ from PreSales-specific stages used to evaluate whether or not an opportunity team has secured the technical win. 

A salesperson might view the technical win as a checked box on the sales forecast, but to their PreSales partner that’s a wholly separate collection of concerns, activities, and deliverables that need to be tracked and measured. Terms and fields that represent sales activities simply don’t capture the breadth and depth of things that PreSales is concerned with.  

Issues with activity capture, forecast accuracy, and opportunity team alignment stem from fundamental differences in role 

When leaders don’t acknowledge these differences, PreSales is forced to spend extra time providing context on why their efforts matter and miss out on crucial insights that can be used to shape the company at every level. 

Let’s take activity tracking as an example. Typically, the AE is the one who owns the calendar invite for a meeting with prospects. It gets created in whatever way is most natural for the salesperson, and then whatever Sales tool they’re using to track activities will consume that calendar invite, categorizing it properly as a meeting related to a specific opportunity. That Sales activity tracker might label a call with prospects where a demo occurred as a “Customer Meeting”. 

Meanwhile, remember that the SE team is trying to capture activity in a way that represents a much broader set of concerns. These include trying to ensure that the time they’re spending is actually being used efficiently, understanding whether they’re converting free trials, POCs, and more—resulting in a detailed breakdown of the key deliverables and sub-activities that can either cause the opportunity to get hung up or lead to the technical win. 

In that same example, the Sales management tool recording a calendar invite as a “Demo” for the Sales activity record misses the fact there are two types of demos being tracked by PreSales—the SE team needs to call it out as a “Custom Demo” tied to a “POC” Deliverable, which is different from the “Overview Demo” typically given during the first call with prospects. 

This results in the SE having to manually recategorize every single event and activity for their own reporting. Over time, frustration builds, and the PreSales team gives up on measuring activity to drive team efficiency. 

By forcing PreSales to use the leftovers of other departments’ tools and platforms, you create frustration and a lack of trust in the data. The experience then becomes  painful because none of these tools were ever designed around PreSales workflows and activities. 

Worse, your team may completely overlook the insights that PreSales data can provide because leadership assumes that the Sales representation of an activity or deliverable provides all the information that is necessary to understand the health of the opportunity it’s related to. 

Feeding PreSales the leftovers of other departments leads to missed opportunities

PreSales teams that get stuck with Sales-centric platforms quickly get frustrated, add additional manual effort, and ultimately fail to achieve the original value intended from those tools in the first place. Why even track activity if you can’t trust and use the data to drive PreSales improvements? 

These platforms simply aren’t built to provide value to SEs who aren’t their primary users—and the result is that PreSales gets left out, while other teams across the organization have their own platform. 

What’s more, a PreSales-centric platform doesn’t just offer a way to capture activities and deliverables in a way that feels natural for the PreSales team. When PreSales teams are able to start collecting and acting on a data set that they can trust, the possibilities extend even further: 

  • More accurate technical forecasting with PreSales-specific opportunity stages and the ability to see what activities and deliverables contributed most to the technical win 
  • Product-field alignment, where Product and PreSales are aligned on what product gaps are preventing the team from selling more, tied clearly to revenue impact
  • Keeping the team focused on the right things and maximizing their effectiveness with Sales, by showing the amount of time and effort needed to win deals   

PreSales needs far more than custom Salesforce fields, spreadsheets, and Sales tools. We deserve the same quality of tools that our partners across Sales, Customer Success, Product, and Engineering have access to, and it’s only with a platform fundamentally designed for us that we can do our best work. 

At Vivun, we believe the solution is PSIOps™—a PreSales Intel and Ops platform that helps PreSales teams to unlock revenue, dominate their markets, and enrich their teams. If you’re interested in seeing it in action, please reach out to us here

Clay Killgore September 9, 2021