Solve real business problems. Find and fix a technical solution. Be at the heart of the most complex sales operations. Influence the product roadmap. Wow the customer during a demonstration. Produce best-in-class visuals. Speak at international conferences. Share your vision at exclusive roundtables. Earn a great salary. Sounds like your dream come true? Get ready for your adventure as a brand-new … presales consultant!
Just like the job description, the presales profession is varied with different names, but don’t let it put you off from this wonderful, often lesser-known profession. All these names refer to the same position: a person who is working as part of the sales team, but with deep technical insight. Some of the names include: sales engineer, presales architect, solutions consultant, solutions architect, sales support engineer, SE, SC, technical sales consultant, and trusted advisor.
It is now almost nine years since I started in my first presales consultancy role. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was all about, however I was lucky to have a knowledgeable manager who had time to train me and had patience in my developing skills. At the organisation for which I worked at the time, we had a great program for new joiners, and I was given additional freedom to take courses that helped me find the skills within me to become a great presales advisor.
At the heart of it, presales is about creating a world that the customer wants to buy. You’re there because you’re the customer’s technical expert, a trusted advisor who guides them through sometimes a very difficult procurement process. One of the biggest differences between the post sales and presales consultant is that the presales consultant is part of the sales team. Further, that means that a presales consultant can enjoy very lucrative bonuses. There are risks, of course. You’re at the heart of sales operations which means that quarterly business reviews will soon become a regular checkpoint in your life and in your job. You’ll be measured against your technical ability, but you’ll also be dealing with clients who are the most demanding in terms of business requirements. Because they are under a lot of pressure from their own companies, your contact with the ultra-demanding customers can also be emotionally taxing and rewarding. You’ll be working with technology that is more advanced than what is needed by an average customer who requires little or no presales support.
Let me clarify the intention of the book, by telling you a personal story that has shaped the way I see the world. Throughout my entire career, all the way back to my school years, I have mostly worked in a male-dominated, white, middle-class environment. To me, teams with limited diversity backgrounds limits the possibilities of science, technology, and culture. Not that I’ve not liked working with my colleagues: I have really enjoyed my career so far. However, the customers, the citizens of this world, will benefit from a much wider, more representative sales force than what currently exists in most organisations.
There should be no reason for such lack of diversity. Thus, I invite everyone who is interested in technology, sales and creativity to consider the career path of a presales consultant. As will be clear from this book, presales consultants have no specific degree as a prerequisite, and most have landed in presales by a happy accident. So whatever profession you’re in right now, I will help you find and identify the gaps in your knowledge and guide you through the entrance to the world of presales.
My personal vision is to bring joy to the world. I truly believe that we can make the world a better, more inclusive and more joyous place by opening the doors of presales to a much wider audience.
Let’s get started!