Every salesperson knows landing a closed-won deal is one of the most important aspects of the job. However, with so much focus on the deal itself, it can be easy to overlook the necessary steps it takes to even reach a successful deal.

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When companies place too much emphasis on closing sales without ensuring their teams have the operational support they need, they may hinder their ability to grow in the long-run. That’s why having a solid sales operations plan in place is so important for teams looking to bring in more revenue without putting too much pressure on their reps.

For organizations looking to maximize profit in a sustainable way, having a good marketing plan and strong sales reps who are good at closing may not be enough. After all, there are many steps between when a contact engages with a piece of content, and when they sign a finished contract.

In this instance, having a solid presales strategy can make a big difference in your company’s ability to convert customers efficiently.

Presales can be a valuable component of your sales enablement strategy. Focusing on it can help your team successfully close more deals in less time.

Key tasks related to presales include:

  • Prospecting
  • Making discovery calls
  • Performing product demos
  • Qualifying leads
  • Drafting proposals

When presales support handles the prospecting and qualifying, ensuring sales closers only work with opportunities who are ready to make the sale, it removes unnecessary friction from the sales pipeline.

Presales Operations

In complex and enterprise organizations, presales activities are typically performed by sales operations and presales support teams, also known as presales operations.

Members of these teams are in constant communication with one another supporting the overall sales process to drive efficiency at the beginning of the sales process.

With this structure, the preseales operations team is tasked with supporting their sales organizations by optimizing processes that identify and position opportunities for conversion.

Presales vs. Sales

The difference between presales and sales is implied in the former's name — one happens before the other. Presales is the sum of the various processes and activities that occur towards the top of the sales funnel.

That often includes tasks related to elements like research, qualification, prospecting, and data analysis. A solid presales strategy gels with an organization's sales process — making life easier on closers and other salespeople who work further down the line.

Here are some of the key activities that a presales infrastructure can take on.

Presales Activities

1. Qualifying Leads

Qualifying leads is one of the most crucial activities your presales team can carry out. Your closers can only get so far with leads with ambiguous potential, so consistently pursuing unqualified (or poorly qualified) leads often winds up being an unnecessary drain on time, energy, and resources.

Your presales infrastructure can clear up that murkiness and make your team's efforts more efficient and effective. Actions like making cold calls, conducting prospect research, or communicating with leads via live chat can offer your sales team the perspective it needs to determine whether a lead is viable.

2. Making Discovery Calls

Making discovery calls — initial conversations with prospects to get a feel for if and why they might be interested in your offering — is another responsibility that often falls on your presales team.

Understanding what a prospect wants out of a solution like yours enables closers to make well-informed, ultimately effective value propositions. That's why this activity is often a central component of the presales process.

3. Preparing Presentations

Your presales infrastructure should be equipped to prepare presentations based on the information accrued in activities like discovery calls and lead qualification. As I touched on in the last point, solid presales efforts amount to unique and compelling value propositions.

Those propositions can only do so much if they're not conveyed convincingly. That's why your presales team should be able to put together presentations that reconcile engagement with assistance and practicality.

4. Request for Proposal and Proposal Assistance

At least a few people within a presales operations team are expected to have detailed product knowledge about the solution they're supporting and a thorough understanding of its applications.

That often makes them excellent resources for helping prepare requests for proposals (RFPs) and proposals. These processes generally require extensive technical insight with a personalized edge — presales teams can assist with both of those aspects. 

5. Conducting Competitor Research

Any sales team has to understand where its company stands, relative to its competition. Your value proposition can only be so compelling if it's not distinct from others within your space. That's why your presales team can often be tasked with researching your competition's product, pricing structure, sales figures, and customer base.

6. Conducting Customer Analysis

It's often on your presales operations to provide your salespeople with a more comprehensive understanding of who they're selling to. Thorough customer analysis is generally the best way to get there.

That could mean sending out surveys to customers, personally reaching out to them for some perspective on their needs and interests, poring through customer data to identify demographic or professional trends, or taking any other actions that will ultimately give you a better understanding of who you're targeting.

7. Creating Detailed Buyer Personas

This point is a natural extension of the one above. Once your presales team has gathered an appropriate amount of baseline information about your customers, it can put that insight into motion by creating detailed buyer personas.

You might be selling to multiple audiences who can be identified by trends in your customer data — trends that can inform the creation of archetypes of target buyers. Those archetypes, known as buyer personas, can then help sales teams shape their sales strategies, messaging, and broader process.

Let's take a look at one way sales and presales can collaborate effectively.

Presales Processes

Identify Sales Qualified Leads

Once leads have been acquired through marketing, the presales operations team can qualify leads to determine if they are a good fit. They can qualify leads through discovery calls, and/or an analysis of lead behavior.

At this stage in the process, the presales team can determine what the lead is looking for, if the product or service their company is offering is a good fit, when the lead is looking to buy, and if they have the budget and authority to make the purchase. Once this has been determined, they can move to the next stage of the process.

Prepare and Deliver Proposals

Next, the presales team works on delivering a proposal that best suits the prospect’s needs and company goals. At this stage, the presales team is preparing the prospect for their upcoming conversations with the closing sales rep.

By adequately understanding the prospect’s needs, and ensuring the offer truly speaks to what they’re looking for, the deal is in an excellent position for a closed-won result. Once the proposal has been delivered, the closing sales rep enters the process to close out the deal.

Sales Processes

Negotiation and Closing

After the proposal has been delivered, the closing sales rep can prepare to move the process forward. Though they did have an active role earlier in the process, they should have maintained communication with the presales operations team to understand the current state of the deal, and for any pertinent information they need about the prospect to finish closing the sale.

If after the proposal has been delivered there needs to be any additional negotiation or term updates, the sales and presales teams can work together to find the best solution. From there, the sales rep can facilitate final terms and closing.

Implementation and Ongoing Support

When the deal’s terms have been agreed upon, the sales and presales teams can continue working together to support successful implementation of the product for the customer. Additionally, if the customer needs routine maintenance or follow-up support, the sales team can be point-of-contact.

Throughout the presales and sales processes, the presales team can identify areas of continuous improvement to streamline and simplify the sales funnel for future deals.

Presales Processes

Identify Sales Qualified Leads

Once leads have been acquired through marketing, the presales operations team can qualify leads to determine if they are a good fit. They can qualify leads through actions like discovery calls and analyses of lead behavior.

At this stage in the process, the presales team can determine what the lead is looking for, if the product or service their company is offering is a good fit, when the lead is looking to buy, and if they have the budget and authority to make the purchase. Once this has been determined, they can move to the next stage of the process.

Prepare and Deliver Proposals

Next, the presales team works on delivering a proposal that best suits the prospect’s needs and company goals. At this stage, the presales team is preparing the prospect for their upcoming conversations with the closing sales rep.

By adequately understanding the prospect’s needs, and ensuring the offer truly speaks to what they’re looking for, the deal is in an excellent position for a closed-won result. Once the proposal has been delivered, the closing sales rep enters the process to close out the deal.

Sales Processes

Negotiation and Closing

After the proposal has been delivered, the closing sales rep can prepare to move the process forward. Though they did have an active role earlier in the process, they should have maintained communication with the presales operations team to understand the current state of the deal, and for any pertinent information they need about the prospect to finish closing the sale.

If after the proposal has been delivered there needs to be any additional negotiation or term updates, the sales and presales teams can work together to find the best solution. From there, the sales rep can facilitate final terms and closing.

Implementation and Ongoing Support

When the deal’s terms have been agreed upon, the sales and presales teams can continue working together to support successful implementation of the product for the customer. Additionally, if the customer needs routine maintenance, or follow-up support, the sales team can be point-of-contact.

Throughout the presales and sales processes, the presales team can identify areas of continuous improvement to streamline and simplify the sales funnel for future deals.

With clear communication and an aligned strategy supporting a common goal, presales and sales can work together to benefit a company’s bottom line and continued growth. For more advice on optimizing the efforts of your sales team, check out The Ultimate Guide to Sales Operations.

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Originally published Jun 14, 2021 2:45:00 PM, updated June 14 2021

Topics:

Sales Operations