As far as I’m concerned, we’re leaving the risky T-model that bigger software companies use for presales in the old normal. If this statement feels like a bomb I just dropped on you, I’m sure you can breathe a sigh of relief after you’ve read my previous blog on this viewpoint concerning the future of presales. Just to sum up the gist: since presales are becoming more about exploring the added value of your software together with the customer in order to fit his future goals, I see the need for a whole new business model. And I call it the rake model, symbolizing the garden tool with the toothed bar on top. So how does this model work to presales advantage, especially in the new normal?
Well, in the top we find the industry principals/customer advisors who invest in the relationships with their customers. They know their business relations aren’t looking for a system of records anymore, but for a software partner that sees the bigger picture and understands what they need in order to beat the competition or to innovate as fast as possible. They know how to explore the best suitable IT-roadmap for the customer, because they are well informed about the latest trends in their partner’s industry and the software industry.
Interpret and demonstrate the software in the language of the customer
The ones in the toothed top also know they need a partner from their ‘own tribe’ as well: the specialists, or subject matter experts as I like to call them. These experts on product knowledge form the handle of the rake that firmly holds the toothed bar. This means they’re also more than aware about what’s going on at the top of the rake, where the generalists operate, because they will need to interpret and demonstrate the software in the language of the customer. Therefore, they have to be informed about marketing, service, talent management and other thematic knowledge as well.
It’s my expectation that the presales teams grow out the sales teams on term. Even more so considering the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because one outcome of this unprecedented situation is already undeniable: the way we communicate has taken a new turn. Remote working has risen massively and, even more important, without any significant consequences. So it looks like it’s here to stay, which means we have to get used to the new way of connecting. Not being able to see each other face-to-face means finding a different approach to get to the point of our (digital) interaction. It means knowing what the other person needs and getting that across in the catchiest way.
This has a huge influence on the sales, and particularly presales, of software suppliers. We’ve already established that presales have to jump into the earlier stages of the buyer’s cycle and remote working amplifies that. With people working more individually from home, they tend to have less deliberation and make their own calls, so to say. So why not request a software demo to get some more information on the possibilities? Maybe even two or three while they’re at it. Easy-peasy right? Indeed, for the customer. Not so for presales, because you don’t want to be giving demo’s haphazardly to anyone who feels like it. And no, sending out standard recordings is not the solution, if you ask me.
More necessary than ever to visualize your customer’s vision
People are people and they will always prefer personal contact. So I believe in the power of presentations that focus on human interaction. That smashing demo is becoming less important, but it’s more necessary than ever to visualize your customer’s vision on upgrading via software. For that purpose, a short (online) live demo will do to serve as an appetizer, giving just a taste of the main course. Nail it and the viewers will be hungry enough to ask questions themselves, which keeps their attention span high.
And because you can invite several people (though not too many at once, to make sure it stays personal) to view your demo at the same time, they can bounce off of each other. Play your cards right and I’m convinced this type of short, remote teaser demos are just as captivating as the ones we were used to in the old normal. Also, these teaser demos can easily be given by junior presales, the ones on the lower side of the handle of the rake so to say. It’s a great way to learn and gain experience and it gives the industry principals and solution presales more time to focus on their expertise.
So, a new normal and a new playing field for presales it is (yet again). So get your rakes out and start ploughing this field. Before you know it, you’ll be picking the fruits.