Chapter 10 Pay More Attention to Presales

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

—Bobby Unser

The sales team at an IT services company was on the verge of mutiny. Key account managers complained that the right technical staff never seemed to be available to help them win critical deals. Five days after receiving an RFP, 40 percent of opportunities still had no bid manager assigned, and that made a difference. Leads with bid managers had a win rate of 50 percent, but those without struggled at just 20 percent. As many as 5 percent of bids were just abandoned due to the lack of resources. The sales reps also spent inordinate time finding the right expert, assembling the proposals themselves, and going through a complex and lengthy bid review and approval process. As a result, they were spending more than a day a week on proposal development—more than double the industry standard.

The root cause was inadequate staffing of the company’s presales staff. Presales—sometimes called technical sales or solution sales—is the part of the commercial function that undertakes a specific set of activities related to qualifying, bidding on, and winning a deal. A high-performing sales organization should have about two-thirds of its presales team undertaking technical presales activities (crafting solutions to customers’ problems) and the rest involved with commercial presales activities (managing deal qualification, pricing, and bid).

At the IT services company, the technical-presales ...

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