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Presales is a process or a set of activities normally carried out before a customer is acquired, though sometimes presales also extends into the period the product or service is delivered to the customer.
In a typical sales cycle the stages are:
- Lead / Suspect.
- Prospect / Opportunity.
The task of a presales person starts from the initial contact phase and often ends once the customer is acquired i.e. sale is made. In some cases, presales also provide some initial or transitional support post sale.
The responsibilities differ from organization to organization but in general include:
- Solution Preparation/Proposal based on Customers Requirements
- Product demonstrations
- Proof of Concept Creation
- Creation of Marketing Documents
- ... and any other activity required to generate business
The Software Industry and IT Services Industry provide a vital and significant role for presales professionals. The role of presales falls right in the middle marrying the customer needs to the (provider) company's services or products. This role is especially crucial in these industries because the products and services are often heavily customizable and also because the requirements of different customers are often unique. The presales professional thus understands what the customer needs, develops an initial view of the solution the customer needs, then tailors the product or service of his company to meet what the customer needs, explains (or helps sell) this solution to the customer, helps close the deal or sale and often stays on to ensure that the delivery team or product specialists that follow him provide the intended solution. Areas of specialty of Presales include:
- Discovery – a means to uncover details of business problems that the prospect has. The presales person will understand and closely analyse the prospects requirements.
- Preparation – tailoring a prospect specific presentation or software presentation that precisely meets the needs of the prospect.
- Demonstration – A demonstration of the vendor product that specifically addresses the prospects business problems. It will be done in a manner that highlights an easy method to solve those problems using the tools available within the vendors suite of product.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) – presales have a detailed knowledge of the product suite, in addition to its application to business problems. As such, presales are frequently involved in technical details in RFP preparation.
- Marketing assistance – Typically the marketing department and presales department align closely. Given presales is directly in touch with the market, they can share market feedback with the marketing team. Presales will often create the technical detail for use in marketing collateral.
- Product management assistance – Presales are able to provide unparalleled market feedback to product managers that can be used to influence or provide feedback on product roadmap items.
- Proposal assistance – Given presales were involved in the sale since the discovery of the prospect business problems, presales will often complete the business analysis and technical component of a sales proposal.
In Canada and the United States, real estate properties that are sold before construction or before construction is completed are referred to as Presales. These properties are known as off plan properties in the UK and Australia.
- The Association of Proposal Management Professionals
- Microsoft Tips on Proposal Making
- Big Basics Presentation on Proposal Making for Government Contracts
- Viewpoint and FAQ on pre sales
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