When it comes to comparing football and presales, I often wonder about what kind of football player a presales person is? There are elements of all sorts of players, from strikers to defensive players. Some SEs are seen by customers as the one who score the deal - with an awesome demo, POV or technology pitch. Other SEs are like midfield players, who can distribute the ball effectively to where it will be best used, and others can act like goalkeepers, defending the opportunity from competitive threats.
One thing when you look at the truly great players, is that it shouldn't matter who puts the ball in the net, because an assist is as important as a goal. Statista shows the top 5 assists players at the world cup as Argentina's Lionel Messi, Portugal's Bruno Fernandes, France's Antoine Griezmann, England's Harry Kane, and Croatia's Ivan Perišić, with a total of three each. Part of being a great team player is focusing on what makes the team get the best results, and not just an individual achievement. For Messi - he managed both! Great presales is a job full of assists, and chances to score individual goals as well.
Also we're talking about Practice. (Thank you Ted Lasso)!
Practice is important. Many goals at the world cup, and some of the best goalkeeping saves, came from great skills, but also set pieces which can be practiced to a deep extent. When you can control part of the environment, you can make it more predictable for yourself, and be able to react to what might happen during the game. Great penalty shots, saves, corner kicks, free kicks and in game positional play all benefit from practice as a team, and individual drills. A sales engineer can practice their RFP responses, Proof of Concepts, Demos, Storytelling, listening skills and much more. What you practice is how you will perform in the game.
Playing the percentages is important. Learning what actions lead to better outcomes is important in football. You learn in junior leagues that risky passes in your own half can be quickly punished. Goal keepers know to clear the ball if they are facing aggression, even kicking it straight out for a corner if necessary. Presales and sales team members can benefit by measuring the performance of different aspects. You can measure which kinds of meetings lead to better results, which questions are better to ask your customers. What level of discovery helps you understand your customer needs better.
Sometimes in football you need to play more defensively. If your team is leading, then pushing for extra goals could actually increase the risk. So you can adjust your lineup, your tactics, where you want to pass the ball, to maintain possession, or limit the chance the other team can attack. It can be the same in presales! Helping the customer keep their focus on the things your team can do well, the benefits offered by your product, will help you defend the deals you should win. Once you are ahead, you might want to stop pushing more features, and working with the customer on getting started with what they've already seen.
Finally, in the world cup I noticed many players playing very different roles in their national team, than they would for their club. This is interesting too, as a new team leads to each player rethinking their position on the pitch, and the role they perform in a game. Similarly for a sales team, working with different sellers, or with different colleagues - or a different category of customer - can lead to rethinking how you play your role!
So paraphrasing the words of Ted Lasso's Dani Rojas, I'd like to say, Presales is Life! We can learn a lot of lessons from our social outlets and hobbies that can help us professionally, and by transposing some of these ideas into your presales life, you will increase your winrate, help more customers, and sign more deals.