Chief Executive Officer at Hub.Inc, We help sales engineers, presales, solution architects and technical sales pros win more business.
Digital transformation has been forced upon us. Buyers from companies of all sizes and industries now have to operate in the digital economy to stay competitive. To do so effectively, they must purchase more and more technologies, much of it complex.
At the same time, the world has changed for technology vendors. During the pandemic, doing business face-to-face is not an option, and it’s unclear if things will ever return to what they once were now that we have all experienced a different way of selling.
These changes have ushered in a new era of presales professionals. Whether they’re called presales, sales engineers, system engineers or solution architects, these technical sales professionals have always been the backbone of today’s sales motions. But their impact on technical selling has grown significantly.
Let’s look at a few driving factors as to why this is the case for technical sellers.
1. Budget has shifted from travel, entertainment and, in some cases, office space to digital selling tooling. Sellers have recognized that, in some cases, greater return on investment comes from allowing people to sell from home. As one technical seller put it, “Today I sold in Texas, California, Washington and the United Kingdom all without having to get on a plane, spend money on hotels, waste time on travel and be away from my family.” When you hear these statements, it’s hard to imagine a world where we go back to the way things were.
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2. Complex technologies that power digital transformations are best explained and demonstrated by technical sellers. For example, as companies embrace the cloud for all their development needs, the menu of cloud functionalities is complex for account executives and buyers. Presales professionals play a key role in helping both account executives articulate value and buyers assess and map which technologies can meet their operational and business needs.
3. Force multiplier effects of presales professionals on growth and margin are too compelling to ignore. A technical seller can easily have direct quota influence on quota attainment goals of as many as 15 account executives, each with a $1M quota, or one account executive with a $3M+ quota. The more effective the technical seller, the more of an impact they have on quota-carrying sales representatives.
4. Continuous improvement and development associated with products and solutions make it impossible for one account executive to be up-to-date on all the features and capabilities all the time. Technical sellers must be highly informed and proficient on the products’ and services’ latest capabilities when demonstrating value and helping to make the sale to the buyer. Without presales to provide context on latest product capabilities, account executives would be drowning in data and lack the ability to map product value to the buyer.
5. Enablement, which arms technical sellers with the latest product and solution information, has made them more effective while selling. Improved tools, resources and training have given many technical sellers an edge when engaging the buyer.
6. Retention of presales professionals is critical for companies who want top-line growth, given the massive talent shortages the industry has experienced.
Buyers also play a key role in effective technical selling. Buyers can no longer do “meet and greets” over lunch, and they, too, are expected to do more with less while not drowning in data to do it. Buyers expect that vendors:
1. Prove value clearly. Buyers expect technical sellers to be well informed, articulate and clear on the value that their products and solutions provide. Additionally, buyers look to presales to convey why their solution is better to alternatives that may encompass competitive products or doing nothing at all.
2. Efficiency with time. Buyers are expected to do more with less, and they don’t have the time for countless virtual meetings that leave them walking away with little-to-no value. Just like technical sellers, their staff are working remotely and doing their best to keep the workday from bleeding into their home life. They expect sellers to be prepared and deliver context when prompted to do so.
3. Follow up in a timely fashion. Buyers expect prompt and professional engagement to satisfy their needs. When sellers fall short of meeting or exceeding their expectations, it makes the seller wonder if the technical seller will be able to meet their operational and business needs.
Now more than ever, technical sellers play an even bigger role in proving value, managing time and following through promptly, because much of the assessment in purchasing technologies to power digital transformation is technical in nature.
Presales professionals have always been the unsung heroes of sales, but now they are getting their due — especially by companies who recognize the impact of technical sales on growth.