Creating a Compelling and Thriving Partnership with Your Sales Leadership

Having a strong relationship with the sales leaders in your organization is essential for PreSales leaders. It doesn’t just strengthen your PreSales team - it makes the whole company stronger. So in the recent PreSales Leadership Executive Summit, we asked two sales executives and their PreSales partners to discuss how they make their own relationships work. Our panelists were:


Leah Katsekas McTiernan, VP of Solution Engineering at Docusign

Loren Alhadeff, Chief Revenue Officer at Docusign

Brian Cody, Director of Global Sales Engineering at Clari

Kevin Knieriem, Chief Revenue Officer at Clari

Cindy Goodwin-Sak, VP of Global Security Sales Engineering Organization at Cisco


The Heart of the Sales and PreSales Partnership


Leah says that at its core, the Chief Revenue Officer /PreSales partnership is a relationship - and just like any kind of relationship, communication, respect, and integrity are all important. Her other two key aspects of the partnership are trust and business acumen. Trust is having the confidence in each other to do the right things, and it’s so foundational in building a partnership. Combine that with knowing your business and it’s a powerhouse partnership.


Kevin mentioned that one place where the partnership can fall apart is if there’s not recognition of the contributions of the PreSales side. If an SE is up all night preparing for a presentation and their sales counterpart doesn’t recognize and appreciate that, it damages the relationship.


As a CRO, he also appreciates the perspective of the PreSales org since they’re closer to the customer pre- and post-sale - he says they often offer a more intuitive signal for the health of the deal, from a different angle than his sales teams.


Loren notes that both sides have expectations of each other. Trust is a core value that’s also at the top of his list. And he says it’s important how senior SE leaders integrate themselves into the rest of the organization - they should also be very plugged into product, CS, operations, and the field, and that gives them important insights to bring to the partnership.


Repping the field POV accurately is important. Intelligence (meaning the current state of business and sales cycle and forecast and deals) from the PreSales leaders tends to give a very clean accurate vision of current state, and they won’t be biased by their own pipeline or quotas.


PreSales leaders also have a lot to contribute around innovation - the future state. What do we need to think about, do differently, develop or change processes, etc. that will positively impact prospects and external partners?.


Giving and Receiving Feedback


Loren says that the PreSales leader plays a unique role as a hub - if you’re not getting feedback from SEs, as a sales leader you’re missing the mark. It’s going to be relevant and informed from many different points of views. It works best as a trusted relationship where the current state of business comes up - is there trust in the relationship where you can have that dialogue?


Brian notes that bi-directional feedback is really critical, as is a formal feedback mechanism when your team gets big enough. They have a new process at Clari where SEs and AEs can provide feedback to each other quarterly. It’s exciting because it opens the door to creating a strong feedback culture in a structured way. For leaders, how comfortable do you feel calling your sales leader? That’s a good litmus test of how close the relationship is.


Leah added that if you want to nip stuff in the bud, pick up the phone and talk it out. Have formal feedback loops too, but in the day-to-day, confront those issues on the phone or in person because emails/texts/Slacks are not great for resolving problems fast or strengthening relationships.


Kevin cherishes calls from all levels of the company because he finds they are really valuable.


Key Takeaways


The most important role an SE leader can play in the organization is having a really strong connection with the product team - that’s a unique sole SE leader plays. They have a pretty unbiased opinion about what to do, how it should be done, building the product roadmap, and gaining broad agreement - and sales leaders truly value that.


The number one thing that came up in this session over and over again was trust. Trust takes time and mutual commitment to build - but putting in the effort and findings ways to build it makes the PreSales and sales leader partnership strong and effective.



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The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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