Author: Brian Lewis, Co-Founder and CRO, Homerun Presales
I recently worked at a pop-up pizza shop, and it reminded me how important it is for presales teams to write things down and share those things with others.
I am a lover of pizza… anytime, anywhere. 🍕🍕🍕
Some friends had a pop-up pizza shop this year outside of the Burning Man event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Expecting a lot of demand, they asked me and my wife to help out over a weekend.
A road trip to Nevada? Seeing old friends? Getting paid in pizza?? 1000% YES!! 🙌
After some basic training, I was making pizzas for customers.
There was your basic cheese pizza, your classic pepperoni, and several combo pizzas like the Railroad, the Gerlexican, and the Veggie Delight. They were options for gluten-free crusts, soy-based chorizo, and vegan cheese. And of course, you could customize your pizza however you wanted.
Our process was simple: The cashier entered the details of what customers wanted into the order management system. That system printed out little tickets for us on the pizza line. We made the pizzas according to the tickets. Happy customers chowed down. 😋
There were A LOT of customers.
And there were A LOT of different pizzas and customizations.
It was hard to keep up.
The orders. just. kept. coming.
I soon realized that the little order tickets were CLUTCH.
I knew exactly what to make for each customer, no matter how complicated their pizza, no matter how fast the pizza orders were coming in, no matter the chaos around me.
Just read the next ticket… and make that pizza.
My job was hectic, but easy.
Customers were hungry, but soon VERY happy.
Now imagine if we didn’t do that…
Imagine if the cashier said "I know I should write it down, but I don't have time for good documentation."
Imagine if we simply tried to remember every detail...for every pizza… for every customer...
As pizza makers, we’d be struggling to service our customers with limited to no information.
We’d have to ask customers YET AGAIN what they wanted.
Customers would be yelling: “I just told your colleague what I wanted two seconds ago. Why are you asking me again?!?”
Already ANNOYED customers would become downright ANGRY customers when they FINALLY got their pizza and it wasn’t even what they ordered.
It would be LOSE-LOSE for everyone.
Easy fix: Don't do that!
The MOST EFFECTIVE presales teams:
Need help capturing and sharing important customer information during your sales cycle and technical evaluations? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Presales Leader: “We deal with a lot of customers!”
Me: “Yeah, external AND internal.”
Presales Leader: “Umm… internal customers?”
Me: “Let’s talk.”
As Presales teams, our customers come to us for HELP.
They need help solving problems, reducing pains, gaining insights, improving performance.
We show customers how we can help, and then they buy our products and services and go on to achieve exceptional results.
When we hear the word CUSTOMER, we think about:
These are our EXTERNAL customers.
As Presales teams, we also need to think about our INTERNAL customers:
Our internal customers need help as well.
Sales teams need to hit their quotas.
As a Presales team, you can do all of that.
Help your Sales team!
Marketing teams need to build demand and drive leads into the sales funnel.
As a Presales team, you can do all of that.
Help your Marketing team!
Product teams need to build products that people will buy.
As a Presales team, you can do all of that.
Help your Product team!
POST SALES / CUSTOMER SUCCESS
Post-Sales/Customer Success teams need to deliver amazing onboarding and implementation experiences.
As a Presales team, you can do all of that.
Help your Post-Sales/Customer Success team!
EXECUTIVES / C-SUITE
Executives/C-Suite need to show their Boards growth, profitability, and performance against strategic objectives.
As a Presales team, you can do ALL OF THAT.
Help your Executives/C-Suite team!
Need help supporting both external and internal customers? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Presales teams are BUILDERS.
We build solutions to problems.
We build value from those solutions.
We build rapport with buyers.
We build trust with stakeholders.
We build approval from decision-makers.
We build relationships with customers.
We build demos tailored to our audiences.
We build demo scripts that rival Oscar-winning movie scripts.
We build POC/POV evaluation plans that define success.
We build templates and playbooks for consistent presales motions.
We build best practices based on what works and what doesn’t.
We build quota-busting quarters (by collaborating with our account executives to win deals).
We build better products (by sharing product gaps with product teams).
We build better lead funnels (by sharing technical fit data with marketing).
We build easier implementations (by sharing everything we did and learned with our post-sales and customer success teams).
We build revenue that pays the bills and funds future growth.
We build the future of our companies.
Need help building an exceptional presales organization, presales process, or presales results? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Presaler Leader: “How do I improve all my presales KPIs?”
Me: “When you assemble furniture… how do you tighten all the bolts?”
Presales Leader: “I do each one little by little to avoid imbalances.”
The world of presales KPIs continues to grow and evolve. There are:
The KPI list keeps getting longer.
It gets harder to prioritize them.
Harder to balance efforts to optimize them.
CHALLENGE # 1: How do we PRIORITIZE presales KPIs?
Part 1: Your corporate objectives dictate your presales KPIs.
If your CEO talks about accelerating revenue growth… then Revenue Achievement KPIs move to the top of your list.
If your CFO says headcount budgets are frozen… then Efficiency KPIs move up the list.
Part 2: Presales leaders need to think like business leaders… and that means PROFITABILITY.
Think about the ‘profitability’ of your presales team.
PROFITABILITY has two drivers: REVENUE and COST.
You make revenue go up by being EFFECTIVE technical sellers, so prioritize effectiveness KPIs.
You do not want costs to go do down, because you do not want layoffs, so your goal is to maintain costs.
You maintain costs (even within a growing business) by being EFFICIENT technical sellers, so prioritize efficiency KPIs.
CHALLENGE # 2: How do we BALANCE our efforts to maximize all our KPIs?
Let’s go back to assembling furniture.
If you have 10 bolts to tighten and you fully tighten each bolt one at a time before touching the next one…
Either everything is so skewed that you can’t fit the last bolts into the holes…
Or your furniture is warped, unbalanced, and on the verge of breaking due to stress.
What do the instructions say?
Lightly tighten each bolt until all of them are secure. Then slowly tighten them again. And again, until all the bolts are fully tightened.
Your furniture looks like the picture and won't fall over or fall apart!
The 10 bolts… are your KPIs.
Don’t end up warped, unbalanced, and stressed!
Get all your KPIs to a basic level of performance. Then slowly optimize each one a little bit. Then slowly optimize them a little bit more.
Eventually you've maximized all your KPIs, and your presales performance is balanced and exceptional.
Which EXACT KPIs should you prioritize for your company, and how EXACTLY do you balance your efforts?
Classic sales engineering response: It depends...
Need help prioritizing KPIs for your company? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Presales Leader: “We do the work. We get tech wins. But we’re invisible to the C-Suite.”
Me: “How do you show your contribution to revenue?”
Presales Leader: “Umm…”
Me: “That’s a problem my friend.”
Let’s break it down.
PART 1: WE DO THE WORK.
The presales team is the hardest working GTM team.
You get assigned to nearly EVERY deal, regardless of how qualified it is.
EVERY deal is the MOST important deal according to your AEs.
You NEVER get the info you need about new deals.
You need FIVE different software tools just to get through your day.
SURPRISE… you need to give an URGENT demo… TOMORROW!
Hey, can you to write this white paper by next week?
Sorry, but I NEED you on this call... it's in 15 minutes!
All complaining aside… you do the work. YOU’RE PRESALES!
You are assigned a new deal.
You gather info and do your research.
You lead technical discovery calls.
You deliver amazing software demos (even the last-minute ones).
You plan and execute POCs and POVs.
You collaborate with your GTM teams across sales, product, marketing, and customer success.
You do the work.
PART 1: WE GET TECH WINS.
Of course you get tech wins, you good at what you do!
You build trust.
You build rapport.
You design solutions (and sometimes workarounds).
You solve problems.
You show a better future.
You define success for the evaluation.
You demonstrate success.
You get tech wins.
PART 3: BUT WE’RE INVISIBLE TO THE C-SUITE.
Sadly, the only proof of your existence is often a single Field on an Opportunity with the name of the assigned sales engineer.
Sadly, you’re often viewed as a support team.
Sadly, no one ‘rings the gong’ for you when the deal closes.
You help sales, but you are not thought of as sales.
The CRM is often the sole source of proof of the work that was done to win a deal.
The CRM shows:
- Every call the sales rep made.
- Every email the sales rep sent.
- Every note the sales rep entered.
- Every piece of sales collateral the sales rep sent to the prospect.
Surprise, surprise… it looks like sales did it all!
No wonder presales is invisible to the C-Suite.
You’re a butt in a seat.
You’re a headcount line item in the budget.
You’re a field on an CRM Opportunity.
But you’re otherwise invisible.
QUESTION: How do we become visible to our C-Suite?
ANSWER: Show how you contribute to revenue!
We’ve established that you do the work... SHOW IT!
We’ve established that you get tech wins… SHOW IT!
The next challenge you will face is HOW to show it… without a ton of distracting requests to your team for updates, without a ton of data wrangling to build reports, without a ton of admin work imposed on your team to get the data you need for your reports, without… a looooong list of new challenges.
Or, come talk to us. We can help!
Need help becoming visible to your C-Suite? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Presales Leader: “We don’t need 'presales tools'.”
Me: “You like digging holes with spoons?”
Presales Leader: “Huh?”
Me: “Let me explain.”
Every presales team is using ‘tools’ to do presales.
By definition that makes whatever ‘tools’ you are using… ‘presales tools’.
Most likely, you have cobbled together a few different ‘side tools’:
If that describes your presales tooling today, my question is... do you like digging holes with spoons?
Suppose you need dig big holes to plants trees (aka, you need to get technical wins and close deals).
Someone offers you a shovel to dig those holes (aka, a purpose-built presales tool).
You say “No thanks, we don’t need special hole-digging tools. We already can dig holes. We use these five different spoons that we had lying around.”
Umm… ok. Technically spoons can scoop dirt and can help you dig holes.
But why would you use spoons when shovels exist?
Sadly, this is where the majority of presales teams are today: Using spoons to dig holes when shovels were just invented.
The reality is that purpose-built presales tools like Homerun have only existed for the last few years, and so there is a natural ‘awareness problem’.
Fortunately that is changing rapidly, and more and more presales leaders are starting to explore these new ‘shovels’.
There also is a natural ‘hesitancy problem’, because presales teams have been using spoons for years to dig their holes. Spoons are familiar, even though you know they suck at digging holes.
As a presales leader, you wouldn’t dare trying to justify to your CEO why you have your team digging holes with spoons now that shovels exist. You would be laughed out of his/her/their office (or worse!).
And as a presales engineer, you definitely do not want to be using a spoon to dig holes when you now know shovels exist. You would be hating life and probably looking for a job at a competitor who uses shovels!
Presales has entered the age of the shovel.
Shovels exist and are superior at digging holes than spoons.
Purpose-built presales tools exist and are superior at enabling presales than generic side-tools.
Need help transitioning from spoons to a shovel? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
Author: Brian Lewis, Co-Founder and CRO, Homerun Presales
Presales is like F1 racing. How, you ask?
Last week I joined Red Bull Racing’s Formula 1 team and raced the storied Silverstone Circuit!
Well, sort of…
I did sit in a Red Bull F1 (replica) car.
I did race Silverstone (in a simulator).
I did feel the wind down the straight-aways when DRS was enabled (or maybe that was just the fan they had blowing on me from the front of the car?).
But this post isn’t really about my fun afternoon in an F1 simulator.
This is a post about PREPARATION,
Whether for an F1 race or a technical sales cycle.
My wife and I went gaga over F1 because of the Netflix show Drive to Survive.
We watch the Grand Prix live (and occasionally the Qualifying sessions).
We listen religiously to the ‘Missed Apex’ podcast hosted by Richard 'Spanners' Ready, Matt Ragsdale, and Chris Stevens.
We even watch YouTube videos about the aerodynamics of the cars.
So when I stumbled across an F1 simulator in Rome, I HAD TO DO IT.
It felt like a big deal, so I didn’t want to go in unprepared.
I researched the ‘best F1 circuits to race’ and decided on Silverstone Circuits Ltd's famous track.
I only had cursory knowledge of it, so I studied track images.
I watched videos of ‘slow laps’ with explanations of each turn and strategies for gear shifting, breaking, and acceleration.
I watched videos of ‘hot laps’ to visualize driving it in real-time.
Was my preparation overkill for an F1 simulator experience? Maybe.
Was it worth it? 100%, I had an AMAZING time!
When I was a sales engineer, I also did a lot of preparation.
Like my F1 simulator experience, each deal was important to me.
I simultaneously wanted to 1) help my customer solve real problems and 2) win the deal.
And so I prepared.
Like researching which F1 circuit to drive…
I researched the company to learn what they did.
I researched their industry to learn the latest trends.
I researched the people to learn their roles and backgrounds.
Like watching the ‘slow lap’ and ‘hot lap’ videos…
I engaged in technical discovery to get an in-depth understanding of their needs, pain points, and goals.
I created a tailored ‘demo script’ (an outline, not a verbatim script!).
I documented the ‘highlights’ (the key details that I wanted to remember and reinforce during the demo).
I made certain I knew my product inside and out.
Like driving in the F1 race itself…
My preparation gave me ‘pole position’.
Then it was ‘lights out’… time to demo!
I followed my demo script.
I adapted as conditions changed.
I tried to cross the finish line ahead of my competition… P1!
The ‘technical win’ was my ‘checkered flag’.
My preparation didn’t always pay off. You can’t win every race. You can’t win every deal.
But, it was always worth the effort.
I have never regretted the time I spent preparing.
Not for my F1 simulator experience.
And certainly not for any of my technical sales cycles!
Want to learn how the Homerun Presales platform helps you prepare for your technical sales cycles? Click here to get started!
Homerun Presales’ Co-Founder and CRO, Brian Lewis, recently posted on LinkedIn about ‘why you are not too early for a presales tool’. The post got such a great reaction that we are re-posting it here on the Homerun Presales blog.
Presales leader: “We are too early for a presales tool.”
Me: “No you are not, and here’s why…”
I talk to a lot of presales people.
Some lead presales teams of 100+ sales engineers. Some are a presales team of one. Some have very mature presales processes. Some have no formal process whatsoever.
Regardless of the size of your team, and regardless of your maturity, you are not ‘too early’ for a purpose-built presales tool.
CLARIFICATION: You are not too early for a presales tool that ENABLES your sales engineers to do the things they need to do every day:
As sales engineers, we LOVE our role in the sales process.
We love being helpful to our customers, guiding them to be better, collaborating to solve their problems.
We love that we are the key to winning a deal: You cannot get the deal win without getting the technical win!
And yes, we LOVE the win itself.
Hearing “Congratulations, you are our preferred vendor!” is oh so satisfying.
(And the commission check is really nice too!)
As sales engineers, our daily life SUCKS.
Our calendars are packed… no time for bio-breaks!
There is an endless stream of tasks and activities day after day… SO MANY TASKS!
We have a BAZILLION deals to juggle… it’s hard to know what I’m working on at any given time and hard to keep everything straight.
We don’t mean to, but we miss things… we didn’t write down an action item during meeting and therefore we forget all about it and our deal stalls out.
We can’t remember a technical detail… and our prospect is annoyed that we are asking about it for 10th time.
We forgot to click ‘Save’ and POOF, there are no notes from a call… and now no one remembers the important topics that were covered.
We use 5 different tools to try and manage it all, from our CRM to spreadsheets to notes tools to task tools… the ‘switching costs’ of moving between tools and the amount of copying-and-pasting between them is crazy!
Sadly, almost all the discussion around purpose-built presales tools has been about Activity Tracking and Reporting.
Definitely important for presales leaders! We agree, and Homerun Presales has Activity Tracking and Reporting capabilities (although our Embedded Activity Tracking eliminates manual logging of activities!).
More important than TRACKING activities… is ENABLING your team to DO the activities more efficiently and effectively.
Your team does not want another admin task added to their busy day.
Your team wants a better day.
Give it to them.
You are not too early.
Want to give your presales team a 'better day'? Talk to one of our presales experts to learn how. Click here to get started!
A walk-off home run to win the game in the 10th?!? Homerun raffle prize winner, Austin Wildrick, Director of Solutions Consulting at Phenom, couldn’t have been happier!
Austin won our “Home Runs from Homerun” raffle prize at this year’s DEMOFEST, the amazing sales engineering conference hosted by Consensus. The prize? Two tickets to baseball game of his choosing!
As a lifelong San Diego Padres fan, Austin got tickets to see his beloved Padres take on the Pittsburgh Pirates on a beautiful Sunday in sunny San Diego on May 29th. He sent us this photo from the game!
After a long game, Padres’ Centerfielder Trent Grisham hit the walk-off home run to lift the Padres past the Pirates for the win.
We’re so happy that Austin got to experience such a special moment with his team!
Just like getting the game win in baseball, getting the technical win in presales takes planning, execution… and sometimes, like a walk-off home run, a little magic.
Want to add a little magic to your presales process? Talk to one of our presales experts to learn how. Click here to get started!
The C-level suite is slowly but surely recognizing the value and importance of the Presales function to their organization’s success. As we say, you can’t get the ‘deal win’ without the ‘technical win’! Since 2018 Homerun has been a ‘category builder’ in the presales software space. More importantly, we have helped companies like AppViewX, Graylog, and INKY Technologies achieve exceptional presales results with our Homerun Presales platform.
In recognition of the growing presales software category, two of the world’s leading sales engineering and presales thought leaders, trainers, and coaches released the first edition of the Presales Buyer’s Guide, which includes a vendor profile on Homerun. Kerry Sokalsky of Presales Mastery and Chris White of Tech Sales Advisors spent the last 8 months interviewing vendors, reviewing technologies, and assembling all of their learnings in the guide. Note, their Presales Buyer’s Guide is not ‘pay to play’.
Read on to learn more about how they defined the presales software landscape and what they wrote about Homerun.
The Presales Buyer's Guide includes the following categories:
Presales Oversight & Management – This focus area encompasses the responsibilities, challenges, and concerns of the typical presales leader – from pipeline visibility and opportunity oversight to process implementation and team management. The capabilities in this area are designed to enable presales leaders to run their organization like a business.
Presales Opportunity Execution – This focus area enables presales professionals (aka individual contributors) to work at speed and scale. Capabilities in this area are designed to give ICs a unified workspace to access, record, and manage all the information and activities involved in executing a presales opportunity.
Demo Automation – As the name suggests, this focus area is all about automating and scaling demo creation, delivery, and consumption, whether in the context of top-of-funnel, self-service demos, live demos delivered by individuals, or product trials (aka sandbox demo environments). The tools in this space are used to create “safe” usable, shareable demo assets that can be analyzed to determine customer interest and intent.
Response & Knowledge Management – This focus area represents the automation of the cross-team coordination, collaboration, and effort that goes into responding to formal RFx requests. It also includes the collection, curation, and dissemination of company and product information commonly used to answer questions and respond to questionnaires during the sales and presales process.
Presentation & Data Solutions – As the name suggests, this focus area encompasses the tools in the market explicitly designed to help presales professionals give better, more compelling live demonstrations, tell better stories, facilitate better meetings, show more relevant information, and manage heavy demo data workloads.
As a unified presales platform, Homerun is part of the Presales Oversight and Management and Presales Opportunity Execution categories. Homerun supports, compliments, and integrates with solutions in all of the other categories.
Chris and Kerry wrote the following Overview about Homerun:
The founders of Homerun built the first version of the platform as a tool for themselves, based on a presales process that increased efficiency and effectiveness, and enabled them to close more deals with less effort. In their own words, “We were managing multiple presales evaluations at any given time, jumping from customer calls to demos to POCs and back. We were using multiple tools: our CRM, notepad, docs, spreadsheets, etc. You name it, we were using it. One day, we had enough and started coding. The result was Homerun.”
The solution has since evolved with features that add value to the rest of the business – sales, product, marketing, post-sales – and elevate presales within the company. Homerun opens the presales “black box”, providing visibility into pipeline, team performance, product gaps, and activity tracking, so Presales leaders know what is going on and how to win.
For the individual contributor (IC), Homerun is designed to be “exactly the tool you need, without getting in the way”. Their goal is to empower ICs to leverage best practices used by top sales engineers to stay organized and be a fast, efficient, and effective closer. Homerun’s design mantra is what they call the “Goldilocks rule” – not too much, not too little. Thus, their goal is to provide a presales platform that empowers the entire presales team, from ICs to managers, without getting in the way.
Regarding Notable Features & Capabilities, Kerry and Chris wrote:
A key feature for presales leaders is the Presales Pipeline – a Kanban board of current evaluations by presales stage and driven by a flexible filtering mechanism. Leaders can see deals in progress organized by virtually any attribute and drill into trouble areas.
For individual contributors, the Evaluation Plan page is a powerful, all-in-one “home page” that enables them to track and manage everything related to a presales engagement, including tasks, notes, feature requests, activities, sentiment, test cases, alerts and notifications, etc. Two of the more unique aspects of the Evaluation Plan page are “Action Items” and “Highlights”. Action items are designed to track those key follow up actions that customers are waiting for. Highlights are designed to capture key notes that otherwise might get buried in the minutia of the engagement.
Homerun also offers a customer collaboration capability; whereby specific elements of the Evaluation Plan can be shared with prospects in the context of a Customer Portal. Prospects can then mark items as In Progress, Completed, or Blocked, upload files, and engage in back-and-forth messaging with the presales team.
Want to learn more? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help you achieve exceptional presales results. Click here to get started!