The PreSales role is expanding in scope, importance, and influence. At XC, we believe this poses a unique opportunity for Sales Engineering leaders to redefine their team’s traditional role as ancillary support and step into the spotlight.
From XC discussions in the past 6 months, here are key trends in PreSales management and operations that we expect to continue in 2024:
1. PreSales Models are Expanding Post-Sale
Teams are actively reorganizing to formally accommodate a shift in balance of work toward supporting existing customers. Different teams have 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.
While companies running a PLG or Consumption model might find it most natural to move to the full-lifecycle PreSales org, almost every company has become laser focused on customer retention and expansion in the past year, and over 60% of PreSales teams we’ve polled have been asked to support customer retention and expansion efforts.
2. PreSales Leaders are Getting Creative to Increase Capacity
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: 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 bias of revenue tech investments toward Sales software. The key is to showcase the lift to the organization as a whole, not just PreSales, and to align asks with company-wide objectives.
3. PreSales Earns a Seat at the Table with Data
Whether you’re campaigning for more budget or a $0 process improvement, navigating change management in a 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.
Some essential PreSales metrics 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
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.