The New Presales Role in Landing Larger Deals

Marc Miller Complex Sales, SaaS Sales, Selling Effectiveness, Trends - Business & Sales 1 Comment

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Do you know what it feels like to lose a multi-million dollar deal?

I just spoke with someone who does.  She is the head of Pre-Sales (Sales Engineering, etc.) for one of the largest ERP & CRM software companies in the world.

Here’s her story.

She explained that in the past her Sales Engineers were too demo-focused.  She needed them to connect more deeply with customers, and use that information to build a compelling business case for change.  Surprisingly, instead of training her people, she chose a different path – enhancing the tools that Sales Engineers use to capture critical buyer information during Discovery.

It’s led to more multi-million dollar deals than ever before.

Here’s some context.

“If you sell a complex technology solution,” she said, “discovering buyer goals, initiatives, and challenges is paramount.  And,” she continued, “a successful discovery has three qualities:

  1. FAST: Briskly paced information exchanges during deep-dive discoveries.
  2. ACCURATE: Factual recall of the most important information later.
  3. EFFECTIVE: Quality execution of this complex interpersonal skill.”

Her belief was that the tools Sales Engineers use during discovery actually:

  • Slow conversations down
  • Lead to information inaccuracies later
  • Handcuff her people from improving personal discovery skills.  

To give even more credence to her point, a CEB survey (Corporate Executive Board – the Challenger© book team) stated that selling is becoming increasingly complex, and salespeople are having a difficult time keeping up during buyer conversations.  That’s because salespeople are engaging with better informed buyers and more decision-makers – trends that puts salespeople at a growing disadvantage during information exchanges.

So, how to solve the Fast, Accurate, & Effective problem?   Here’s her take.

Our ERP Software Sales leader has her field team audio-record discovery calls.  Why?   To accurately capture technical, complex, and voluminous information impossible to notate in real-time.

How have customers and prospects reacted?  She said that acceptance rate to recording is high as buyers want sellers to get it right the first time.  Sophisticated technology buyers – and executives with a voice in purchasing decisions – understand the limitations of analog tools to capture complex information being shared verbally.

“The biggest fallacy in recording complex field conversations is that buyers will resist, or not open up,” she said.  “In fact, buyers see value in audio capture. First, accurate data capture insures that they, and other team members, won’t have to repeat the same information later.  It respects their time. 

And, if someone wants to tell us something off the record, we simply hit the mute button. 

From our vantage point, the ability to search, review, and re-live key moments later help us build better proposals, business cases, and implementation plans.

Most obvious to both parties, this process can avoid potentially damaging problems down the road due to normal miscommunication, human error, and handoff confusion.”  

Bottom line – paper and pencil just don’t cut it in anymore in a complex solutions technology company.  What about furiously trying to keep up by keyboarding notes during an important discovery?

In today’s digital world, both look bad to the buyer.

Clients know that when a salesperson or engineer is taking notes, they’re not listening.  And, when listening, they’re not taking notes.   

It’s a Lose-Lose situation.

The difference between good and great leaders has always been action.  Our ERP Software Sales Leader embodies that very trait.  She wants discoveries that are fast, accurate, and effective.  And, she’s taken action by implementing new field tools to solve those root-cause problems.  Purposeful action is how meaningful change happens, how productivity improves, and is the only real way to competitive advantage.

 

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