The Role of PreSales in AE Enablement Roundtable Summary

PreSales is more than just a standalone team - it’s a function that also helps to support many other teams in the organization. SEs aren’t out there functioning as lone wolves mastering the complex art of demo software all the time. They also play a vital role in enabling AEs to do their jobs better - it’s a beautiful partnership when it works well. 

But how exactly can PreSales play a role in enabling AEs so that both sides are more successful while maintaining a healthy balance as well? Let’s take a look. 

Training AEs 

In many organizations, PreSales plays a major role in onboarding and training new AEs. At one mid-size technology company, for example, SE leaders actually run AE onboarding completely. They have some teams specifically tasked with building out the AE onboarding function so they know it’s getting done the right way. SEs there are responsible for training new AEs on the core product and differentiation, and they lead demo certifications and support sales kickoff sessions as well. 

As you can see, this is a pretty sizeable involvement in the training process for new sales reps. It’s all too easy in some other organizations who start using this system for PreSales to slowly turn into full-time trainers (on top of their day jobs, of course). But getting new sales reps up to speed is too important a task to ignore completely. 

Here are a few ways successful organizations manage this tricky balance between training enough while respecting the PreSales role: 

  • Documentation is critical. You can create thorough documents to direct AEs to when they have questions the SEs hear a lot. And ensure that wiki is actually getting used by aligning closely with sales leaders so managers are aware of existing resources and direct their AEs there when it’s appropriate. 
  • Developing a buddy program. New AEs can be assigned a designated PreSales team member to answer their questions, manage their onboarding, and guide them through any other processes they need to onboard smoothly. This system means it’s clear to everyone who the new AE should go to for training and questions. 
  • “Ask an SE” Slack channel. For quick questions on process and issues as they come up, it could be useful to start a Slack channel where AEs can ask the PreSales team a quick question, and whoever is free at the moment can respond. 
  • Make the onboarding terms clear. For new AEs, it can be easy for them to start to depend too much on the knowledge of the SE when they have a question after onboarding, and that can create a problematic pattern. It’s best to set expectations clearly from the start, and tell new AEs that PreSales is helping them out as a favor because they’re new but what they’re asking for is actually outside of the process when that happens. 
  • Making it a give-get process. If both sides are benefitting from the enablement process, it’s an easier task to assign. When AEs are getting enablement from PreSales, you can switch it around as well and invite senior AEs to speak to the SEs in their team meeting as well. 

Measuring the PreSales Enablement Impact 

PreSales is all about making complex tasks and problems look and sound easy, which makes them really good at enablement. They excel at explaining complicated processes and concepts in a way that’s easy to understand for even the newest sales rep. But that excellence can get a PreSales org into much more training tasks than you want to tackle. 

Training and onboarding new AEs can sometimes feel like just one of many thankless, invisible tasks that PreSales takes on too often. However, carefully measuring the effort and impact of the contributions PreSales makes in enabling AEs and sales as a whole can make the value to the organization clear. 

As a PreSales leader, getting involved in enablement can make you more visible and held in high regard with the sales leadership team. And it has benefits for your team as well. 

You just need to have the right plan in place to help support enablement efforts, and that means measuring your team’s effort. You can track the time and effort your team spends on enablement activities like formal sessions, lunch and learns, SKO sessions, AE onboarding activities, and bootcamps. 

These enablement activities are vital and need to happen, but be sure you’re keeping track of time spent on them. That’s because you’ll need to defend this time at some point - your PreSales team does have plenty of other work to do as well - and this kind of time is the hardest to justify when asking for more headcount if you don’t have the data to back it up. 

Key Takeaways 

One of the many tasks PreSales does well is enabling AEs to do their best work as well. Implementing a more formal AE enablement program for your SEs can be a tricky balancing act, but it can also yield big benefits for the organization and your PreSales team as well. 

It can even give your PreSales team another perspective on the AEs they work with every day (and if you’re interested in learning more about this, we highly recommend To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others). A broader view on colleagues and a sales team that’s better equipped to sell - if you build your enablement program the right way, it’s all possible. 

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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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