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The Pyramid of PreSales

What is PreSales? What do we actually do? We solve problems. In fact, we love problems. Others run from problems, we run towards them. People have problems that stand in the way of them winning, that they don’t know how to overcome. When they’re lost in the dark, we’ll light up the path and show the way. We’re the ultimate guide, and nothing makes us happier.

How do we do this? PreSales is equal parts art and science. While there are many ways for us to be successful, there are four key pillars, as illustrated in the Pyramid of PreSales, the PoP.

We Seek Out Problems

At the base is a passion for problems. If problems don’t excite you, if you don’t love the challenge and relish the possibilities, then PreSales most likely isn’t for you. By nature, we’re curious and love to ask why. Tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes, your inner Nancy Drew. This is part innate, and part muscle. You can work on this. You can become a wizard at discovery and mental models.

An easy way to work this muscle is to be ruthless and apply a “so what, who cares” to every potential problem that comes along. Some problems are distractions and aren’t actually worth solving. This is the number one reason that people fail in our profession, because they’re not passionate about problems.

We Know How to Solve Them

Pillar number two is all about the how. We are the masters of how. Once we know the problem, we need to use our powers to solve it. The key here is that there are multiple ways to excel at the how based on your individual strengths. Some of us lean on our technical expertise. Some of us have strong business acumen. Some of us are creative. These three elements will combine to various degrees to help us uncover the how. Double down on your superpower, and improve or mitigate the areas where you are weaker. It is for this reason that a strong, collaborative PreSales team is far stronger than the sum of its parts.

We Translate Complex to Simple

We know our problem, we have our solution, now we need to translate that into language that our customers can understand. Most often this means simplifying. A hallmark of a great SC is the ability to simplify; taking complex concepts and making it digestible for anyone. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. In some situations, you may need to add complexity and detail. Some customers need to see exactly how something will work, down to minute detail.

It’s also important for us to understand how our customers learn. While 60% of people are visual learners, others may need to be hands on, or to hear stories to really get the message across. Some people need process maps, others need an analogy. It’s crucial to ensure that our demo speaks their language. The closer our translation matches their favored way of learning, the more successful we, and they, will be. Again, there’s no one size fits all approach, play to your strengths.

We Inspire Change

Finally, we need to inspire people to drive change. The most elegant solution to a real problem means nothing if we cannot inspire change. The status quo is easy, change is hard. We need to inspire them to shake off the shackles of inertia and embrace a new world, a beautiful future. This is where our unique strengths and personalities shine through. This is the art.

Some of us inspire through passion and energy. Some of us inspire through confidence and expertise. Some through powerful visuals or strong oratory. While Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk have polar opposite styles, they both inspire. This sense of inspiration needs to be pervasive, throughout the lifecycle of the engagement. Discoveries, demos, trials, whatever it is you’re doing, needs to inspire. You know your secret sauce, embrace it, and use it.

These four pillars encompass our profession. Within each pillar there are many paths to success for us to take based on our unique strengths. Find what works for you and keep doing what you do best, solving problems and making people’s lives easier. This is PreSales.

Amin Ibrahim is currently Director of Commercial Solutions Consultants @ Hootsuite. He has over fifteen years’ experience in tech helping companies smash sales targets by building strong teams and amazing careers. He is passionate about building, whether it's new teams, roles, sales motions, or ways to use technology.

1 Comment

Yang Lu
Mar 15, 2021

I've always thought about it in terms of "special sauce", but I've never put this type of pyramid against it. It's actually a great way to think about our profession. This is a great starting point for goal setting for an SC as well as introspection. I've always asked my peers why someone would buy from you. This format helps identify that and if you don't know or don't know what you should work on for annual goal setting (outside of close your quota), this provides the framework. Thank you.

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