Becoming a great PreSales professional is about so much more than just knowing the technical details and features of the products you sell. After all, product expertise will only take you so far - and your knowledge will eventually go out of date. Instead, focusing your development on adding value to your customers and your organization will help you continue to develop your career as a top PreSales engineer and even as a leader.
But, what’s the best way to work on adding that value in your organization? It can be too easy for PreSales professionals to just stick to what we know - technical knowledge.
Instead, consider this three-part framework for career development and solutioning. It will help you focus on developing deep expertise in your customers’ needs, their industries, and their business challenges and outcomes. And that will allow you to deliver incredible value in your role, today and in the future.
Why Value, Why Now?
The tech market is getting increasingly crowded with each new year. Your organization is probably pretty busy thinking about how to go after the bulk of that market, and here’s what it really takes: less focus on sexy super-technical features, and more on actually just solving problems for customers.
It comes down to understanding exactly what your customer hires a product to do. If you’re trying to sell a convertible to someone who needs to buy a minivan to tote kids around, you’re lacking understanding of the actual job that customer needs their car to do (it’s less about driving around for fun, and more about getting everyone to soccer practice on time). The same goes for software sales.
For PreSales engineers who want to add value, this concept means you need to think deeply about how the product you’re selling translates into actual value for a customer. You can then connect the capabilities of your product to the business strategies, objectives, and initiatives of your customers instead of highlighting fun but irrelevant features when trying to make a sale.
Storytelling for Value
PreSales engineers tend to be pretty focused on the technical aspects of the job - and that’s certainly important in the role. Someone in the room needs to know how the product works inside and out! But you can also add a lot of value in the sales process and your organization by honing your storytelling skills.
Stories matter because they build a connection to the audience. And that’s the art of a great demo. But art alone doesn’t make people buy software - it needs to also have value. (That’s where we come in!)
Instead of just showing features in your demo, think about creating a few vignettes for your audiences and put them together for every meeting you have. Vignettes are sub-stories your audience consumes, so architect your story so the audience is drawn in and can engage by asking questions. In the summary, bring back those emotions you evoked in the vignette.
You can train yourself to become a more skilled storyteller. Various providers do story-telling specific training and has books and blogs you can leverage. Working with your sales leader and bringing it to the whole group can also be effective. Even just watching a Pixar movie and paying attention to the storytelling can be instructive. And using the following storytelling best practices will help your demo shine.
Evolving Your Skills to be Value-Oriented
Looking at your PreSales career, many people tend to start off really focused on features. Then as your career goes on, you start to become a more polished and confident sales person. Are you developing the right skills in your career, or building bad habits?
If you’re just sitting in sales meetings quietly until a technical question comes up, that’s not adding a lot of value to the sales cycle. Instead, you can help drive the strategy the right way. As PreSales engineer, you probably have more at-bats and experience selling to customers.
Ask tough questions but with healthy respect, and you’ll get a lot more traction in your career by being proactive instead of waiting for someone to call on you. And work on creating a value story that sells more than just features, since that’s what customers care about most anyway.
You can also proactively become an enabler for your organization and help to make everyone as good as possible at their jobs. Too many PreSales engineers tend to hoard their knowledge and then flaunt it in front of other teams, thinking that’s how they add value. But it’s really not.
Knowing every single detail of your product features might be helpful in the short-term. But when you’re considering a long-term high-level career in PreSales, it’s better to focus on providing real value to your customers, your colleagues, and your organization.
Want to learn more? Check out our in-depth webinar: