Before answering how the presale function works (pre-sell, pre-selling, pre-sales) and who a pre-sales manager is, we will talk about the standard structure of an IT company sales department.
What is included in the structure of the business development department?
By default, a business development department covers the following functions:
- Lead generation – it is better to attribute this function to the marketing department. But often, small companies only have this marketing function, and salespeople usually lead the lead generation process. The main task of the position is to contact a group of the company’s potential clients that match the Ideal Customer Portrait;
- After the lead has been qualified as MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), it is transferred to the pre-sales manager, whom we will discuss below;
- Later, there are usually several iterations of negotiations and the long-awaited closing of the deal.
There are two types of a pre-sales process in a company:
- Technical (very often this function is provided by a service station) – it is suitable when a service station will be present on the part of the client, with a clear task to check the company for competence in a particular technology.
- Non-technical or domain-based, when at the pre-sales stage, someone from the company acts as an expert in a particular industry (an experienced sales manager or business analyst does an excellent job in this sphere).
If the company grows to 50+ employees, it makes sense to single out this function as a separate one and hire or train a person from the inside.
What are the main functions of a pre-sales manager in the company?
The list of the main tasks of the pre-sales manager includes:
- initial clarification of requirements with the client (identification of the client’s request);
- general presentation of the company to the client;
- assistance in the qualification of a lead (for example, a technical person is definitely better than a salesperson in understanding whether it is possible to close a client’s need using the company’s capabilities);
- preparation and presentation of RFP (Request for proposal);
- creating a balance in the relationship between the client / IT- department / marketing / sales.
What are the main types of requests in preparations of which the pre-sales manager takes part?
In the list of basic queries:
- RFI (Request for information) – a request for information about a company, projects, allowing the client to decide whether the company is suitable for him as a service provider;
- RFB (Request for bid) – the client has a detailed project or functionality that needs to be implemented and asks the company about the possible cost of the project. Same as RFQ (Request for quote);
- RFP (Request for proposal) is the most popular request. The requirements for this request often need to be clarified, and the pre-sales function plays a key role.
At which stages of the sales funnel is the knowledge of a pre-sales manager useful?
The knowledge of a pre-sales manager is needed:
- At the stage of preparation of the RFP (to collect the primary data required to prepare this document).
- After specifying the requirements (they are a key figure in the company, a kind of “driver” of the RFP preparation process).
- At the stage of finalizing the document preparation in the company. Here, they must agree on the synchronization of processes with all “stakeholders” within the company.
- And most importantly – during the joint presentation with the salesperson of the project to the client (answering questions, helping the salesperson deal with objections, applying deep technical/domain expertise, which the salesperson may not have).
Who is best suited to work in Pre-sales?
We believe that people with a technical background who want to develop in other directions are best suited for this. After all, teaching a techie the nuances of business analysis and communication with a client is much easier than teaching, for example, .NET to the architect level.
Developers of this level are often too expensive to be used in pre-sales activities. In this case, you can discuss a slot in 25-50% of the time that a person can allocate for pre-sales.