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Evolving PreSales Models: Scaling PreSales Expertise Post-Sale

Demands on and for presales are increasing earlier in deals and throughout the entire customer journey.

According to the G2 2023 Software Buyer Behavior Report, in an environment where buyers expect quicker time-to-value, more companies are hiring value consultants or other experts who can connect products to ROI. Moreover, Gartner confirms PreSales experts are the most-trusted resource for buyers and customers.

Often lacking additional resources and headcount to accommodate these inflated demands, PreSales leaders have had to find creative ways to increase capacity and avoid burnout, without sacrificing the customer experience.

Within XC we saw examples of teams making structural changes to their PreSales and Revenue orgs, including realigning teams, reassigning headcount, and/or introducing new teams.

Restructuring an organization can be a complex and daunting process but allows for a new foundation to be built, rather than a lower-effort, lower-impact band-aid solution. 

The below structural changes were made in the context of larger business shifts, such as the cloud transformation or the move to a Consumption pricing model. 

Moreover, we saw varying degrees of change, from situations in which only PreSales structure shifted, to entire Revenue org changes and the elimination of traditional post-sales teams, like Customer Success Management. In some cases, SEs replaced CSMs entirely, while in others, the more technical CSMs were reallocated as Solution Architects or other specialists. 

Below are two examples of new structures:   

Allocate Certain SE/SCs to Customers

To support their transition from on-prem to cloud, one SaaS company used existing PreSales headcount to create a customer-facing Solutions Consulting team. SCs chose whether they preferred to support new business efforts or further existing customer relationships. Customer SCs support Customer Success Managers similar to how PreSales SCs support Sales. All SC teams are centrally managed, and the overall reporting structure didn’t change.

Because of the volume of post-sales requests for SCs before this change, allocating headcount full-time did not diminish the team’s capacity for presales work.  

Unify Pre- and Post-Sales Organizations

Customers of a company moving to a Consumption model felt the lack of SEs post-sale negatively impacted their ability to see value from the product. So, Solutions Engineers became full-lifecycle technical support: owners of the customer journey. 

The same SE stayed attached to buyer accounts that become customers, aiding retention and expansion. All technical field teams were reorganized under a single leadership structure to facilitate collaboration. So, although the scope of SE work expanded, so did the resources available to them. 

The overall business change to a consumption model allowed for a wider-sweeping change in this case. Every department would be transforming naturally, posing an ideal opportunity to realign multiple teams and reimagine cross-functional relationships.

Tips for Change Management

Regardless what structural change you seek, in order to facilitate the smoothest transition possible:  

  • Be transparent with SEs: let them opt into changes where appropriate, and take the time to help them understand not only what changes are occurring but the why behind them 
  • Implement any changes in a methodical, phased approach with distinct phases
  • Set firm rules of engagement with other departments: SEs need to feel confident that they will be supported and their bandwidth protected if the scope of their work changes

Conclusion

Post-Sale demands on SEs will likely continue to increase with the technical complexity of products and services. As the competitive landscape gets more crowded, access to technical experts will remain a key differentiator in the race to prove ROI of your products and services. Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether investments in PreSales technology (traditionally a tiny fraction of revenue tech spend) will increase proportionately with SE responsibilities. 

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