Hey, PreSales, Revenue, and RevOps leaders: There is a new relationship absolutely critical to your success that must be properly managed.

It’s not Marketing and Sales, or Sales Development and AEs, or Sales and Customer Success.

It’s PreSales and Sales. 

Let’s be honest, as time goes on, PreSales has slowly made its way to the center of the selling motion. And for good reason: as tech stacks expand and technical requirements become more specific, a successful sale has increasingly become more dependent on meeting these advanced requirements.

Sales Engineering has risen to meet these needs by providing their expertise in demos, handling POCs, and proving that your solution will deliver its promised value.

Of course, AEs are still crucial in maintaining relationships, handling objections, negotiating, and closing.

However, Sales is now much more of a partnership between Sales Engineers and AEs than a handoff. Now, they must work in tandem to close deals.

When SEs work together, your revenue org is a well-oiled machine. Communication is rapid and clear, pipeline moves quickly, and deals are easily won. Customers get a great experience and are excited to buy. 

When the PreSales/Account Executive relationship is poor, the opposite is true. Communication breaks down, the process is chaotic and disorganized, performance is low, and customers tend to go elsewhere. Turnover increases and goals are missed. 

That’s why it's up to PreSales and Sales leaders to ensure that the partnerships between their SEs and AEs are as strong as possible. 

A tale of personalities

At a macro level, there is a reason why each of these roles does what they do. Oftentimes, they are entirely different types of people. 

SEs are obviously more technical and oriented toward the engineering side. They are often introverted and prefer to live in the product than with the buyers.

On the other hand, sellers are extroverted relationship builders, they excel at working with people and are more business/partnership focused. 

These differences don’t just apply to behaviors; they lead to different perceptions and ways of working.

In general, SEs are analytical, skeptical, and logical. Sellers are optimistic and imaginative.

As a result, these two personalities can clash. 

Improving the SE/AE partnership

With this in mind, how do we ensure Sales Engineers and Account Executives work together for the betterment of themselves and the organization?

Leaders should work to establish healthy and positive working relationships.

This can be done first by framing the relationship, establishing a process, and keeping all parties accountable.

SE/AE mindset

First, Sales Engineers and Account Executives need to realize they are on the same team and have the same goal.

It’s an equal partnership, and each one has skills the other does not, therefore they must work as a team. Without each of them contributing, the deal will not be won.

Teams should foster an environment of trust, collaboration, and truth. Without total trust and firmly believing that others are doing right by everyone else, it will not work.

Sales Engineering and Account Executive processes 

Sales are not exactly linear, so there will never be a time when an SE and AE are not working in tandem. Clearly define responsibilities, working habits, and SLAs to reinforce both.

Things like meeting/demo preparation, documentation, and communication should all have clearly defined requirements to adhere to.

The key is that both SEs and AEs should “buy in” and even have a say in creating these processes so all parties get what they need out of them.

Maintain accountability 

Accountability breaks down into two components: radical candor and a desire to be held responsible. 

Your SEs and AEs should not only want to be responsible for certain things but able to communicate in a brutally honest fashion about them. The key is to maintain composure, even when things are hard. 

If something is behind, or not right, they should be able to discuss why and how to fix it, without becoming upset with one another. They also should be able to help each other where needed. 

Enabling the SE/AE partnership

With that, the SE/AE partnership is not entirely dependent on soft skills.

We can also enable better collaboration with the right tools. One such platform is Demostack.

With its unique ability to clone a product in minutes to create shareable and editable demos, Demostack allows SEs and AEs to empower one another with completely customized and personalized demos for every prospect.

With this, it's time to examine your SE/AE relationship. Taking the time to improve it may increase your sales performance.

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Sorry, this content is available for Leadership Collective Members only!

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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