The presales process is the most critical part of selling an enterprise product. The presales prism separates the various steps and demonstrates why certain activities are necessary during each step.
The prism shows where each stage on the diagram fits into the bigger picture.
Identifying the lead is one of the first steps in the sales process. Next, the presales team needs to identify the problems their prospects are facing and what type of technical solution they need. Presales engineers deeply understand the prospect’s company and target accounts and they use it for good customer discovery. Their role at this stage is to educate the potential customers about business problems and how they can be solved.
If the sales team has worked with similar prospects in the past, the sales team can use the context of previous engagements and insights into the best way to approach this particular company. The presales team research the solution, gather data and build a case for why their suggested solution should be considered.
In the product demo phase, the sales engineering team demonstrates the product and explains its value propositions. SEs can be involved while giving a proposal or may come in after initial contract negotiations have begun. The goal of SEs is to ensure an effective engagement with prospects and deliver the value required to exceed the customer’s objectives.
The SEs may have highly specialized knowledge and skills of knowing one product, or they may be a generalist knowing multiple products. In any scenario, they work with their customers to identify how it can be deployed within the customer’s organization.
The POCs/POVs help in determining the feasibility of a project.
Proof of Concept (POC): Proof of Concept is a process that proves a solution works well and there’s a practical application for it.
Proof of Value (POV): Proof of Value is a process which identifies the values that customers can expect by using the product.
During this process, the presales team defines the scope of a project and works with product management to get initial estimates around time and cost. They ensure that they have all of the proper data for their requirements document (RD). The RD is the blueprint for what presales will be taking to their customers.
The presale team will make an extensive planning and preparation phase: planning what can be done beforehand (roadmaps), what needs to be put together beforehand (demos), and with whom they should have meetings to get prepared for the upcoming sales cycle.
When building a POC, the SEs are testing hypotheses rather than proving facts. Asking ‘What if’ types of questions (e.g. What if we try to integrate with another tech?) SEs should look for solutions that work within the customer’s existing tech stack and architecture.
POC Setup and Validation
The presales team sets up their kickoff meeting with their potential prospects. SEs will go through several different meetings with the customer/decision-maker: pre-sales demo, presales architecture review, presales proof of concept (POC), etc.
Once discussed and finalized with the customer, SEs manage their respective POCs. This includes the scope of work, what success criteria are needed to be met, etc – all things that are essential to the completion of the POC.
After all the success criteria are met, it’s important to do a final wrap-up with the customer. Sales engineers typically use this opportunity to summarize all the work that has been done during the POC/POV. This also helps in making a final pitch on why the product is the best fit for the customer.
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