PSLC Round Table - The Business of PreSales

It was an honor to lead The Business of PreSales Round Table on August 26th, 2020 which focused on the Value of a PreSales Charter, SE Alignment & Coverage Models and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is a conversation I have been interested in having for many years. Almost everyone agreed there is value in having a PreSales Charter to help clearly define the vision, goals and expectation for the role. The breadth and detail of the Charter were very different across companies. As one might expect, Coverage Models varied based on company size, # of products, growth and complexity of the solution. One thing we all found interesting is how many different “PreSales” roles there are and how many different technical people could engage with a customer during a sales cycle. Everyone agreed that Technical Account Managers can be instrumental in driving adoption, retention and expansion. For some organizations this is a paid service while others view this as an investment in customer success. Lastly while there are many KPIs being measured the general consensus was “less is more”. Identify the minimal # of KPIs that will provide visibility into the activity, performance and impact of the team with a heavy focus on leading indicators like Customer Interactions and POVs. The most hotly debated KPI was Technical Win. For some organizations this is viewed as an important measure of PreSales ability to execute while in others it was viewed as irrelevant and potentially divisive. Overall this was an awesome roundtable filled with great discussion and debated. Thank you again to everyone who participated!

Value of a PreSales Specific Charter

Summary: Overall the group believes there is value in establishing a clear PreSales charter that defines vision, goals, and expectations of the role. It is important that the charter directly aligns with the vision for the broader sales team. The preferred approach is to start simple and evolve the Charter over time.

● PreSales gets asked to do a lot of different things

● Without a clear Charter the team can lack of focus

● Start simple and expand the Charter over time

● Drives clarity around where we’re going to spend our time

● Some organizations have taken it a step further and established a SE Playbook for high impact activities at each Sales Stage

● Charter should align to the things PreSales is measured on

SE Alignment & Coverage

Summary: Alignment and coverage varies by company size, # of products, complexity of the sales among other factors. Some organizations have gone as far as to build capacity models to understand current coverage and plan for future hiring. It was interesting to hear how many different customer facing technical roles existed and how many technical folks may get engaged in a sales pursuit. One role that was heavily discussed with the Technical Account Manager. Almost everyone believed in the value of the role helping drive customer adoption, success and expansion. However there was a difference of opinion about TAMs being a paid service vs. an investment in customer success made by the company.

  • Pooled vs. Directly aligned (ie. 2:1)
  • Alignment driven by Customer Affinity, Rep/SE Affinity, Geography
  • Some companies have developed Capacity Models
  • Some company have a former Deal Assistance Request System
  • SE empowerment to push back and disqualify opportunities varied by company
  • Interesting discussion focused on if a Sales rep change territories does their SE go with them (if they directly aligned)
  • Many customer facing “PreSales” roles - Specialists, Technical Account Manager, Business Value Consultants, Client Partner. In fact across the PreSales Collective it was noted that there are over 250 unique titles.
  • TAMs - many people see value in this role - for some organizations it is an investment in customer success others it is a paid service
  • Challenge highlighted with selling TAM Services is that their effectiveness can become diluted if they are aligned to too many accounts

 

KPIs

Summary: This discussion centered around the KPIs that were being actively used to measure SE organization and communicate the team’s value/impact to business stakeholders. There was discussion around minimizing how many metrics are collected and the fact that if you choose the wrong metrics they can have unintended impact on behavior (in a negative way). There were some common metrics such as Revenue/ACV, % Attainment, Average Sales Cycle, and Win Rate that all organizations collect (as expected). However more of the discussion focused on the importance of leading indicators like Activity and POVs. The most hotly debated metrics was “Technical Win”. Many organization report on this metric however some folks believe it is too arbitrary, implies the deal was lost by the Sales rep and it is meaningless if the deal is lost. We also discussed the importance of leveraging non-financial metrics (Skill Matrix, 9-Box Assessment).

  • Data is critical to have a quantitative conversations with our peers (ie. hiring needs)
  • Important to measure the “right” metrics
  • Most metrics should ultimately tie back to business value/impact
  • As they can have unintended consequences
  • Important not to measure too many metrics
  • Important to have consistency in the KPIs - need history to identify trends
  • Leading/Lagging Indicators
  • Leading - Activity & Proof-of-Value (POVs)
  • Lagging - ACV/Revenue
  • Lot of focus on measuring SE Activity and the Technical Validation process
  • Interested in too much activity as well as too little
  • Quality of interaction is important
  • POVs are expensive so it is important to be efficient with their execution
  • Some examples of KPIs being measured include:
  • Activity / # Customer Touches
  • % of Time at each Stage of the Sales Cycle
  • ACV/Revenue
  • % Attainment
  • # POVs
  • Some companies measure POVs by product
  • POV Conversion Rate
  • Product Mix
  • Value of an SE’s Time
  • used to calculate opportunity cost of investing time in non-sales related activities
  • Technical Win
  • Technical Win was the most heavily debated KPI
  • Is this metric really relevant?
  • Who decided if “We Won” (Customer, SE, Sales)
  • Implies we didn’t sell enough Value
  • Nobody gets paid on a technical win if the deal is lost
  • Non-Financial metrics matter
  • Skills Matrix
  • Discussion around how do you baseline performance and do you publish this for everyone to see
  • Skill, Will, Coachability Assessment
  • 9-Box Assessment
  • Some organizations have QBRs for SEs

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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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