Every deal matters during challenging economic times. Here are the 5 essential changes that every presales team needs to make right now in order to survive as a team and a company.
Download the PDF version here: 5 Essential Changes for Presales During a Downturn
#1: MAKE A PLAN
If every deal matters, then every interaction with your buyer matters. Additionally, time is of the essence with these interactions because time kills all deals. Sales engineers cannot afford to take an ad hoc approach to how and when to engage with buyers. Now is the time to tighten up and add structure to your presales process.
Codify your best practices and key presales activities into formal evaluation plan templates (aka, playbooks). Evaluation plans remove the guesswork on what to do and when to do it.
Document your standard test/use cases and success criteria into formal POC/POV plan templates. POC/POV plans reduce scope creep and keep deals on track.
Add just enough structure to your plans to enable your team to be efficient and effective, but not so much that the structure itself gets in the way.
For each new deal, assemble the plan using the relevant templates in your library and customize the plan as needed. Follow your plans, track progress, and highlight/escalate any blockers.
#2: BUILD RAPPORT, QUICKLY
Your buyers are timid and risk-averse as times are tough for them as well. They are less confident seeking budget approval for new tools and services, even if they have the need for them.
Combat this by building rapport with new buyers as quickly as possible. Your product is surely amazing, but people are buying from people especially right now.
Rapport comes from demonstrating technical and domain expertise, providing guidance on best practices, and solving problems.
Rapport also comes from being a fellow human. If your buyer mentions on a call that they have a new puppy named Bosco, then jot that down and remember to ask about Bosco the next time you talk. If they mention an upcoming vacation, add that to your deal highlight notes and ask how it was when they get back.
If it is important to your buyer, then it needs to be important to you.
#3: FOLLOW-UP DILIGENTLY
If you are on a call and you say you will do something for your buyer… do it, do it quickly, and certainly do it before they have to ask whether you did it.
Document every action item so nothing slips through the cracks.
Every sales engineer has promised a buyer that they would do something after the call, for example send some slides, prepare notes on how you do XYZ, or talk to your product team and report back about a needed feature.
Then you get onto your next call and the call after that and suddenly it’s next week and your deal has stalled out because your buyer was waiting to take the next step until you followed up.
As mentioned earlier, time kills all deals!
#4: TRACK YOUR ACTIVITIES
Activity tracking is already the norm for high performing presales teams, but it is even more important during difficult economic times for two reasons:
REASON 1 -- GET INSIGHTS TO IMPROVE
When every deal and every buyer interaction matters, make those interactions count.
When your team tracks their activities and their time on those activities, you can analyze your presales activity data to get insights into what is working and what is not.
Use those insights to structure your presales process and design your evaluation and POC/POV plans to get the results you want.
Guide your team to spend more time on activities that lead to wins and reduce sales cycles and away from activities that are a waste of their time.
REASON 2 -- SHOW YOUR TEAM'S VALUE
When executive leadership starts looking for ways to cut costs and reduce headcounts during difficult economic times, show your team’s value to protect your budget, tools, and headcount.
Your presales activity data gives you performance metrics related to:
Show your team’s contribution to the areas that are most important to your executive leadership by segmenting your activity data and metrics by region, product line, or new vs. existing business.
PRO TIP: During difficult economic times, your executive leadership is laser-focused on profitability. For greater impact, use your presales activity data to show some form of ‘presales profitability’ for your team, for example the total closed revenue attached to your presales team divided by fully loaded cost of your team.
#5: CONNECT THE DOTS
As you tighten up your presales process, also tighten up your collaboration with other teams.
SALES: Engage more often with your account executives and sales reps to ensure alignment on deals, progress on your evaluation plans, any blockers, issues, or risks, and next steps.
MARKETING: Share ‘technical fit’ data (i.e. what makes a prospect a good technical fit vs. bad technical fit) with your marketing team to help them refine their demand generation efforts.
PRODUCT: Document the product gaps and feature requests that your buyer tells you about, along with how important it is for them and the associated deal size. Immediately share this information with your product managers. Your product team is desperate for real data to help them prioritize features within their roadmap, especially ones that are causing you to lose deals.
POST-SALES / CUSTOMER SUCCESS: Now more than ever you need happy, vocal customers that will spread the word about your product, your teams, and your company. Help your post-sales / customer success team deliver an amazing customer experience by giving them the information they need during your presales-to-post-sales transition meeting. Share everything that your team learned during the technical sales cycle, including the technical attributes, deal highlights, meeting notes, and your evaluation and POC/POV plans and results.
Need help implementing these essential changes with your presales team? Talk to one of our presales experts about how Homerun can help. Click here to get started!
We had a wonderful time co-hosting our first in-person event last week with the amazing Chris White of Tech Sales Advisors at HanaHaus in Palo Alto, CA.
Chris spoke to presales leaders from SAP, Redis, Eightfold, LivePerson, OutSystems, Build Loop and others about how to coach their presales teams in The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers, based on his book:
In addition to the seminar, attendees received a signed copy of Chris' book and enjoyed a hosted networking happy hour with great food and wine at Vino Locale.
Do you follow the Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers at your company? Talk to one of our presales experts to learn how Homerun supports all Six Habits. Click here to get started!
OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 4, 2022 -- Homerun Presales, the workspace for high performing presales teams, announces today the launch of its integration with Consensus, the leading intelligent demo automation platform (DAP). Presales teams using Homerun now will be able to view and interact with Consensus DemoBoard and Demolytics® data directly within Homerun's presales workspace.
"Presales teams struggle to get the information they need before engaging with new buyers," said Brian Lewis, Co-Founder and CRO of Homerun Presales. "Augmenting our all-in-one presales workspace with Consensus data gives SEs the information they need to prepare for that all-important first live demo. Homerun users now know the exact demo content that sales prospects have seen and how important that content was to those viewers. That is incredibly valuable information to presales teams."
For B2B SaaS and technology companies, the presales team is the critical link between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and lifetime value (LTV). Sales and marketing teams use demo automation and buyer enablement solutions like Consensus to engage and educate buyers at the top of the sales funnel to reduce sales cycles by 68%. As those prospects move through the sales cycle, CAC increases dramatically as presales teams get involved to lead technical discovery calls, deliver live product demos, and manage a technical evaluation such as a proof of concept (POC) or proof of value (POV). Presales productivity solutions like Homerun help presales teams manage these activities, capture relevant technical information, and collaborate with other teams across sales, marketing, product, and post-sales/customer success. That collaboration now includes sharing demo automation data directly between Consensus and Homerun to reduce sales cycles even further and to increase win rates.
Homerun users link to the Consensus DemoBoards that marketing and sales teams create and share with sales prospects. The resulting DemoBoard engagement data appears as a new component within the Homerun workspace that presales teams use on every call. In addition to the high-level engagement data, Homerun shows which contacts have seen the DemoBoard, how many times they viewed it, their first and last view dates, and how they ranked demo content in terms of importance. The integration between Homerun and Consensus makes presales teams more knowledgeable about their prospects and better prepared to engage on calls, demos, and POCs/POVs.
"B2B buying groups are larger than ever, and the trend shows that they will only keep growing. It is imperative that presales and sales teams know which stakeholders they need to engage and when they need to engage them," said Garin Hess, Founder and CEO of Consensus. "Combining data from a powerful intelligent demo automation tool like Consensus with Homerun Presales's unique platform will help teams establish a clearer path to revenue that helps presales leaders and teams focus on activities that will move the needle the most. This is how you build the presales tech stack."
ABOUT HOMERUN PRESALES:
Homerun Presales is the presales workspace that gets presales teams through their day with one place to track, manage, organize, and inform their presales effort. With Homerun, presales teams deploy a structured presales process, track and optimize their presales performance, and efficiently scale their presales team. High performing presales teams such as Demostack, AppViewX, Graylog, JupiterOne, Cortex, INKY, and others use Homerun to increase deal win rates, decrease sales cycles, save time, and reduce new hire onboarding. Homerun keeps data and teams in sync with integrations with Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack, JIRA, GitHub, Consensus, and others.
Consensus, the Intelligent Demo Automation Platform, scales presales instantly with interactive video demos. Presales and technical sales teams automate repetitive product demos which allows them to reallocate that time to higher value activities. Buyers get a better experience— one that guides them with digital, interactive and on-demand video demos. This uncovers stakeholders automatically and eliminates unqualified demos, which in turn dramatically shortens sales cycles by 29% up to 68% and improves close rates by up to 44%. Market leaders like Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Autodesk, Sage, Trintech, Coupa and many others trust Consensus to scale.
Full press release: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/homerun-presales-and-consensus-integrate-to-bring-demo-automation-data-to-presales-teams-301639183.html
Want to learn about connecting Homerun and Consensus to help your presales team get the information they need to prepare for live demos? Click here to get started!
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!