Vivun’s Series A led by Accel: The Future of Presales

Vivun's Series A
Matt Darrow Matt Darrow

I’m thrilled to announce Vivun’s $18 million Series A fundraise led by Accel with participation from existing investors Unusual Ventures and Firebolt Ventures. Co-founding Vivun with John Bruce, Dominique Darrow, Claire Bruce, and Joe Miller has exceeded all of my professional expectations. Beginning in late 2018, and initially bootstrapping the company to get our first 10 customers, it has been thrilling to create a new enterprise software category for Presales. Onboarding unicorn customers like Fivetran, Tipalti, and Thoughtspot as well as some of the world’s best enterprises like Autodesk, Okta, and Dell has enabled us to validate the market and get the momentum needed for an incredible Series A outcome.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the bigger picture I see for Vivun. Right now we’re an incredible platform to help Presales leaders scale their teams and gain visibility into the business outcomes they’re driving. We’ve assembled an amazing engineering team with deep AI expertise to use the net new data set captured throughout the Presales workflow to enhance the sales forecast while clustering and categorizing market intelligence gleaned from the field.  We’ve doubled down on ease of integration by creating a seamless interlock between the pillars of our customer’s existing investments: Salesforce, Zendesk, Jira, Github, Azure DevOps, and Slack. That is just the beginning.

Vivun’s mission statement isn’t simply meant to be about a platform for a vastly underserved, highly strategic group of people (Presales); it’s also about building a hub in recognition of the fact that the importance of Presales is going to exponentially grow in the months and years ahead. It already has, in fact — when I started Vivun, I often had to explain to investors and peers what Presales even was. Now I rarely have to explain it and amazing communities are beginning to blossom around the profession.

It is our core belief that Presales is poised to become the future of every Enterprise. Why? This outcome is being driven by the convergence of multiple trends:

  • Every company is becoming a software company, and software innovation is continuing at a breakneck pace powered by CI/CD and rapid delivery methods.
  • Products are becoming more sophisticated through data science, AI/ML, yet also more freely available via self-serve trials and freemiums.
  • Customer buying preferences have changed: they enter into the sales cycle more educated, and more interested in immediately speaking to experts.

Presales is now poised to be the most important division in the Enterprise and will undergo the following transformations:

  1. Presales never ends, and therefore will end up owning the end-to-end customer journey.

    Presales exists at the center of both the prospect and customer relationship, because they’re the people that everyone wants to work with; they’re the technical team that can identify and solve problems.

    As a result, it will increasingly make sense to form a single department structure where there’s a seamless handoff and experience for customers from a technical team to a technical team, creating faster learnings and knowledge transfer. It also creates joint accountability to ensure that expectations are set from purchase through delivery, while reducing operational costs since every team member can personally solve the problems at hand.
  1. Presales will be responsible for creating a seamless interlock between the field and product-engineering.

    When software delivery occurs weekly and waterfalls have all but dried up, only the department with a vested interest in both the product and the business/revenue world is going to be in the best position to be the single source of truth when it comes to product-market fit.

    They’re the ones with bookings targets as well as a deep understanding of how the product works. They are in the best position to increase knowledge transfer between the product management team and the field. This way, there’s a single point of accountability to ensure that the required work gets done and new market opportunities are continuously identified.
  1. In lower ASP, high-volume segments, sales rep and sales engineer skill sets will have to converge.

    When an organization moves into mid-market and commercial segments, it won’t make sense to have both a sales rep and a sales engineer on the case. Sales cycles can be shortened by reducing back and forth between meeting schedulers and experts, and the cost of sale can be reduced by hiring quota-carrying staff who can work a deal end-to-end.

    Several companies have already embraced this model: Stripe has team quotas attached to sales reps who act as sales engineers (largely with engineering backgrounds or sometimes MBAs). In these examples, sales reps need to become technical experts in order to meet the expectation of today’s buyers, or Presales teams need to learn how to prospect and close!

Growth in all Dimensions

It’s been fantastic to see the Presales ecosystem grow alongside Vivun — including other vendors, our friends at the Presales Collective, and even new books and speakers geared towards helping build best practices and business foundations. But I think that the rise of Presales is going to outpace even the world that’s beginning to make room for it. As always, Presales is still underestimated, even as they’re becoming more valued.

It’s going to be a fascinating journey to watch. Vivun will be growing in tandem, making each and every Presales leader as successful and strategic as possible.

Matt Darrow Matt Darrow October 13, 2020