My top 5 Presales hot takes for 2021

What did you get out of 2020? 

Every year presales is evolving and taking on new ways of working. 2020 was a radical change to the way many people worked and here are my top 5 things presales people should take into 2021:

A beach - because life should be more like a beach

5.    All meetings need to support and foster remote listeners

This is something we should have been good at anyway, but 2020 changed meetings to the extent that most meetings are now remote and without travel to the customer.  Even if we do get back to more face to face meetings in 2021, I would still expect some customer participants to be remote and you need to foster their participation in calls. Make sure you learn their names, address individuals with questions and interaction, give them the ability to drive some content.

4.    Inclusion: Expand your bubble

Reach out to individual stakeholders and don't assume that your initial contacts on the customer side will be sufficient to get deals across the line. Without a regular office presence, different groups of stakeholders will fall out of touch with each other and one of the value points you can bring is including other contacts who also might be interested in your solution. 

Use sharable material to discover and find who is most interested in different parts of your solution. Many tools like highspot, consensus and most marketing teams will be able to tell which assets and collateral was of most interest to the different people on the customer side. This might help you target your sessions better, break up complex pitches into separate audiences, and connect different stakeholders who may not be aware of each other. 

Follow up with video clips, relevant content, newsletters, updates on POVs to the right people will help enrich your customer engagement and increase your sphere of influence. It's not just what you say and show in the meetings that matters, but how you can follow up from that.

This also works internally in your company. Make it a point to find out what is going on with groups that you don't interact with regularly. Knowing what is going on in your business could help you bring more relevant information and insight to the customer.

Finally you can expand your bubble in the field of presales. Reach out to the community (e.g. Presales Collective) and find ways to expand your skill and influence as a presales professional.

3.    Qualifying and re-qualifying is important

In a changing business world, don't assume that deal qualification can all be done before presales gets involved. A customer's priorities can change (for better or worse) and some aspects that might qualify whether you should be involved may be more technical than your account manager may realise. Given that about 65% of sales effort is spent on the wrong deals or losing efforts, knowing when to qualify out or in is very valuable and keeps going throughout the sales process.  

Also the earlier you can correctly qualify out, you avoid some of the heaviest workload items for presales. Things like trials, proof of values and custom demos all require prep work, presentation work and planning, and if you already know that this customer is unlikely to buy, in the timeframe you are interested in, then the earlier you qualify out, the more time you have for better qualified opportunities.

2.    Tools are your friends

With more remote meetings, more data is available from tools that you use. Tools like Gong provide recordings and transcripts that you can use to enhance your note taking and for improving your skills on demos, proof of concepts and objection handling. They also help you catch up on meetings with the customer that you were not involved in, and hear objectives and questions from the first call. This can help you improve your knowledge of the customer and be quicker to show the right solution to them and how it provides value.

Other tools help provide automation to lower value or early stage work, and give customers the ability to self-serve more than ever before. This is not a bad thing, and doesn't remove the need for presales, but it allows us to focus on the higher value & better qualified opportunities. Plus they need to be fed quality content to be effective!

1.    Your time is precious

Presales is more important than ever to the sales process. Customers want to lower the level of risk they take on with any new solution and the high level of understanding of the technology and how they can use it will help ensure they can invest. It is also easier than ever for a presales person to be invited to more and more calls and customer engagements. It is important to check what your capacity is and build time into your schedule to prepare for  the sessions that add the most value. If your involvement in a session is not necessary, then it likely you can spend your time better elsewhere. You need to partner with your sales colleagues and management to prioritise your engagements and focus on where you add the most value. This will make both you and your sales colleagues more successful!

What did you find most interesting from 2020 and the new way of working?  Did you learn something new and want to share it? Wishing you all a fantastic new year and all the best in 2021.