When it comes to revenue and recruitment, companies tend to focus on landing high performing salespeople. The better they are at selling a product or service the more money it is for the enterprise.
But often forgotten and extremely important are the pre-sales engineers. These are the employees tasked with not only finding new customers but turning them into lifelong ones. It’s the holy grail of any organization. They have the technical skills to assess a product to ensure it makes sense, adds value and will resonate with customers. They also have the communication skills to pitch the idea to potential clients.
In the current tech-driven era, these employees are critical to boosting sales. Yet research shows they aren’t the focus of hiring managers. It could be that pre-sales engineers don’t come cheap. In the financial technology arena many pre-sales or solutions engineers command salaries in the $100-140K base range (some can be much higher). However, the reward for having them is more than worth it.
According to a 2015 McKinsey study companies that invest in their pre-sales staff achieve customer win rates in the 40% to 50% range and business renewals between 80% and 90%. That is well above the averages. McKinsey also found enhancing the presales teams can boost revenue from 6% to 13% and increase the speed of moving people through the sales process by 10% to 20%. Anyone who has sold products to an enterprise knows how long it can take. Cutting the time by even 10% can make a world of difference for an organization.
Companies cannot hire just anyone for this important role. Pre-sale people wear multiple hats and are the face of an enterprise that is soliciting business from new customers. Their input has a direct impact on how a product is developed and whether customers will find it useful. Think of them as the subject matter experts who can be technical one minute and able to engage with business clients the next. They act as part detective and part doctor discovering the problem and diagnosing the potential remedies. Once they derive a solution for the pain point they work with their internal teams and customers to implement it.
They are also involved in generating leads for the enterprise. They use advanced data analytics to determine where the opportunities are and prioritize them based on importance. In its research, McKinsey pointed to a pre-sales team at a building materials supplier as one example. They were able to put together a list of customers most likely to buy the company’s products based on order histories. That improved the company’s bid conversion rates by 3% to 5%. Several fintech firms are automating their own data analytics processes to improve sales performance
Pre-sales engineers may not have a role in every fintech company but if a business is in a technical industry or is looking to sell its products to financial or corporate enterprise firms, a pre-sale engineer is invaluable. However, not all pre-sales engineers are created equal. When hiring one, a company has to ensure the person has the following:
-The technical knowledge and the ability to explain complex concepts without relying on confusing jargon.
-Deep understanding of their industry domain
-Knowledgeable of the inner workings of the sales cycle and has the ability to work with the
different teams within an organization.
-Strong presentation skills and a knack for relationship building.
Technical skills will only get an engineer part of the way, but closing the deal takes finesse. These are a lot of attributes to find in one person. The good news: they are out there. It may take some effort to find them but once you do they become invaluable to the growth of an organization.