We Built a PreSales Platform, So You Don’t Have To

John Bruce

“Why can’t we just build this ourselves?” 

Work in any technology company long enough, and you’ll hear somebody asking this question. Many folks, myself included, have extensive experience with building PreSales platforms internally on top of CRM. My co-founder Matt and I did so from the ground up when we were both PreSales leaders at Zuora, and I repeated that process after leaving Zuora to build the sales engineering team at SignalFx. We co-founded Vivun to build a platform that truly worked the way we wanted for PreSales, and to spare others in our position some of the pains that we personally experienced in our previous roles as PreSales leaders. 

Our first product, Hero by Vivun®, provides PreSales with a place to call home, where they can work deals across PreSales stages, activities, and deliverables while capturing insights to help managers optimize their teams and demonstrate how PreSales impacts the business. 

Eval by Vivun®, our second product, arms PreSales with a solution for guiding buyers through evaluations while maintaining transparency, alignment, and trust. With Eval, PreSales teams and their champions have a shared space where they can collaborate on buying criteria, manage scope creep, and scale tribal knowledge to position your products to win. 

Used together, Hero and Eval create seamless alignment between buyers, vendors, product, and the field—placing PreSales at the strategic center of influence. It’s the first PreSales Intel and Ops platform–Vivun PSIOps™—and we built it so that you don’t have to. Here are some of my thoughts on why Vivun offers a better way. 

Keep your CRM clean and easy to maintain

At Vivun, we like Salesforce and use it extensively—Hero by Vivun® integrates tightly with it (users log in with their Salesforce accounts), we rely on it as a system of record (with Hero performing real-time reads and writes to opportunity data stored in Salesforce), and Salesforce Ventures is an investor in the company. 

In fact, the earliest iterations of Hero were offered purely as a managed package within Salesforce, before we launched our web app, browser extensions, or mobile support. While far from being the product that we have today, that version of Hero meant far less work for Sales Ops and IT teams who would otherwise have to implement custom fields and objects for PreSales on their own, and far less waiting for the PreSales leaders who depended on those departments for a way to track their teams’ activities and opportunity data. 

Still, we knew that CRM platforms were never designed with PreSales teams in mind—and feedback from our early customers showed that despite the immediate improvements this version of Hero brought to their daily routine, they still encountered difficulties with the following: 

  • Capturing data on activities and deliverables related to opportunities without additional manual effort 
  • Efficiently sharing meeting notes and document templates across the team 
  • Searching for the right piece of information, button, or option amid multiple fields and drop-downs
  • Viewing PreSales metrics and visibility into the team’s performance over time 

It was clear that PreSales teams wanted more when it came to usability and analytics—and in order for us to deliver something that felt truly natural to our customers’ workflows, we needed to go beyond the confines of what CRM platforms could provide. 

Give PreSales an AI advantage

We also wanted to begin applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to uncover deeper insights for our customers based on all of the PreSales data they were capturing in Hero. While CRM platforms do offer tools for organizations to weave AI and ML into use cases like call analysis, activity tracking, and deal intelligence, these solutions and their AI models are almost entirely sales-centric in their view of the world and what goals they set out to accomplish.

Building the Vivun platform meant that we could bring the power of data science to bear in a manner that specifically addressed the challenges PreSales teams face on a regular basis—quantifying their perspectives for more effective forecasting alongside the sales team, automating activity tracking for PreSales-specific tasks such as custom demos and POCs, and driving alignment between PreSales and Product by aiding in the aggregation and analysis of product feedback and feature requests coming in from the field. 

Break down barriers between buyers and vendors

While Hero addresses the shortcomings with PreSales-focused CRM customizations, we also saw opportunities to transform how PreSales teams led evaluations as well. As anyone in PreSales knows, buyers want to get hands-on with your products. While evaluations are often initiated on your champion’s end, they also help your opportunity team: 

  • Organize buyers and identify detractors within the organization
  • Define requirements and trap competitors while avoiding scope creep 
  • Align PreSales, post-sales, and customers for long-term success

The vast majority of time on my last sales engineering team was spent running technical proofs-of-concept (POCs), which we managed with an unwieldy combination of spreadsheets, custom Slack channels, and email threads. With Eval by Vivun®, PreSales teams now have a shared workspace to manage evaluations with their buyers—where they can effortlessly shape evaluation criteria, share deal assets to a centralized location, and drive transparency and mutual accountability. 

Unlock the power of PreSales

The Vivun platform is everything my co-founder Matt and I wish we had earlier in our careers as PreSales leaders. Solutions built internally on top of CRM and spreadsheets were always more demanding for us to maintain and more difficult for our team members to use—and we never had the resources to build in more advanced capabilities with AI and machine learning in the way that we are now with Vivun. Many of our fellow PreSales leaders and Vivun customers share similar sentiments:

“I’ve lived through the pain of trying to design my own PreSales management tool, waited for there to be bandwidth on the technology team to add incremental capabilities…Just designing a system takes a long time, let alone testing it. Let alone the reports. Let alone working through all of this and then continuing to do it…I wanted a product that was ready.”

Susan Beal, CVP of PreSales, Blue Yonder

We’ve lived in this world, and that means this platform is for you too. Take control of your PreSales teams’ destiny by signing up for a demo of Hero today!

John Bruce December 14, 2021