First, a note about what scaling in PreSales is not - it’s not hiring people linearly. Scaling is about getting exponential results from existing resources. And when it’s done right, it shouldn’t compromise the buyer experience - in fact, it can improve it.
Scaling is especially important right now when hiring budgets are being challenged and even frozen. Garin has many strategies for scaling, but stresses that the best way is to come up with a combination of strategies that work well for your unique organization. Here are four of his favorite ways to scale your PreSales team without going on a hiring spree.
- Define the Gap
There are two kinds of gaps to analyze. One is the demand gap - how many hours will be required in future because of increasing demand? And the second is the key activity gap - where do you want SEs to spend more of their time, compared to where they’re actually spending time today? PreSales is getting stretched across the whole funnel right now and it can feel impossible to keep up. But reducing the key activity gap will help you fill the demand gap too.
How do you find those key activities? We’re often asked to do too much in PreSales and struggle to keep up. So what are the key activities you want your team to focus most of their time on? A few that usually rank high are discovery, strategic conversations, deep dive technical demos, and improving product knowledge. But you need to pick your own to help you find your strategies.
Embracing tradeoffs is key to scaling - if you don’t know what you’re trading off, that’s not a strategy. You need to know what you will say no to so your team has more time for the highest-impact activities.
For example, Consensus research has found that 14% of SE time is spent on intro demos. That doesn’t seem like much, but over a year that’s seven work weeks! And across a team of 50-100, the impact is massive. PreSales leaders rank intro demos as 8th in importance, but 3rd in time consumption for their teams - you can, and should, reallocate your team’s time to higher-value activities.
- Better Qualification
Research shows that 30% of demos are unqualified. And a quarter of PreSales leaders in 2021 said half or more of their demos are unqualified. The opportunity is to redefine how we address repetitive intro demos by qualifying prospects better. At Consensus, we have six different demo types. The best demos for scaling include intro demos, FAQs, and closing demos (ones with quick questions that need answering like GDPR or integrations). You can create demo videos for those to send to prospects without wasting SE resources.
- Categorizing Demos to Align with the Buying Process
Another great way to scale is to embrace the demo-qualified lead. What is the gate prospects have to pass to get a demo from a PreSales professional on your team? You might already have this in your organization, but if not, you should take the lead to implement this gate as part of your strategy. It can help your team bring only qualified prospects into the PreSales resources.
What exactly should the gate look like? The most effective way is requiring a prospect to watch an intro video demo before engaging with PreSales. It can be quite short, from 2-5 minutes or 5-12 minutes. And if those prospects aren’t willing to watch a very short intro video, are they really serious prospects? Probably not. The gate can be a recommendation or a requirement, whatever works for your team and prospects.
Trintech did this recently - they first started with their large enterprise prospects. They started with a little over 50% unqualified demos, and 14 day demo lag time - not a great experience, especially for those early intro demos. By implementing the DQL stage, and by automating intro demos, now unqualified demos are less than 5% and demo lag time is zero days. Their sales team can even send out intro demos with automation, reducing time wasted for the PreSales team so they can focus on higher-value activities.
What’s also interesting is that as their number of intro demos went down, the number of discovery calls went up dramatically. Data shows us that with almost every intro demo SCs are doing, they're not doing a discovery call, and automating that intro demo creates time for deeper discovery.
- Leveraging Intelligent Demo Automation
Intelligent demo automation is the key here - you don’t want to automate everything. That reduces value for your customers. But doing it where appropriate can help your team save time and become more efficient. Some good demos to consider automating include vision, micro, intro, qualifying/discovery, FAQ, and closing demos.
Don’t Be Afraid of Scaling
What’s a good number to aim for when scaling your PreSales team without hiring? The traditional AE/SE ratio is 4:1, and leaders are often working to make that smaller because it can make your results better. But Garin actually suggests aiming for an 18:1 ratio when you’re working to scale.
And it works - he’s actually seen very positive results from one of the largest SaaS businesses in the UK with that ratio because they scaled the right way. It doesn’t have to mean making the customer experience worse - it’s just getting rid of lower-value activities so your team can do what they do best.
Put all the strategies together and you’ll see big benefits, especially when you put in the work to craft your own scaling strategy.
Additional resources on scaling in PreSales: