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Pre-Sales Consulting Mission: Always Do Right by the Customer

Someone once told me that 70% of all technology projects fail. Regardless of whether the statistic is true, it stuck to me like glue. As an engineer I always asked myself what I could have done differently to have made a project more successful, although it seemed the failures had much more effort put into them than the successes. When I joined Acquia as a consultant, I was surprised to see that many organizations were also experiencing the same anomaly.

There are many factors that contribute to the failure of a project, but a common ingredient is the mismanagement of expectations. No matter what technical accomplishments are achieved, they are not viewed as successful because the initial expectations were not met. I have always argued that most projects fail within the first handful of client meetings due to either unintentional misunderstandings or cognizant product misrepresentation that set unreasonable expectations for the team implementing the solution. My experience as a consultant has only strengthened this belief.

One of the reasons I chose to work for Acquia is that our company policy is to do right by the customer. In the spirit of this mantra, we have a small group of pre-sales consultants who provide initial architectural assessments before a project even begins. The result is a customer with a more accurate understanding of what it will take to accomplish their goals with Drupal thus setting expectations accordingly from the onset. Because I feel so strongly about the importance of this position, I have decided to move on from the Professional Services organization so I can focus on the earliest phases of client engagement.

The aspect of the pre-sales consulting I am most excited about is being on the front lines of driving Drupal adoption deeper into the enterprise. Open source is experiencing an increasing number of attacks from proprietary vendors in an effort to scare companies from leveraging platforms like Drupal, but I take a different approach and focus on what Drupal can do as opposed to the shortcomings of our competitors. By being brutally honest about the strengths and weaknesses of Drupal, prospective clients can accurately gauge risk in addition to realizing the flexibility and cost efficiency that a Drupal solution provides.

Our community is maturing at an incredible rate, and technology alone won't get us to the next level. I look forward to the challenges in front of me and hope my contributions will guide successful Drupal projects in new and exciting markets.


Posted on by Lenny Ramirez.

A webinar for this would be great! I been feeling the thinking that you shared in this article since few weeks back now and looking for better resources to get good at it with no other choice than trial an error. Thrilled to have few resources

Posted on by William Champion.

Great statement on the value of Pre-Sales in the selling process... The PreSales professional has been affectionately called “Doctor Demo” or “Demo Monkey”. The PreSales job title varies from company to company. From Sales Engineer to Solution Consultant... no matter what a PreSalesRep is called, they should consistently bring CLASS to the sales process.

In this case, CLASS is more than an elegance of style, taste, and manner. CLASS is an acronym that stands for qualities and characteristics found in top PreSales professionals. The CLASS acronymn has been developed over several years of serving as a PreSales representative in addition to building several PreSales organizations. It is a simple way of describing the essence of a quality PreSales team member wherein each letter in the word CLASS stands for a desirable characteristic:

C - The “C” stands for Credibility. No doubt the PreSalesRep (PSR) represents their company’s products and/or services with greater depth and breadth than any other person on the sales team. Credibility is established with the prospect through the knowledge of products and solution opportunities offered by the PSR. The credibility the PSR builds allows them to have a relationship with the functional and technical interest parties of the potential customer. When a PSR establishes their credibility, additional benefits result... such as Confidence with Commitment to do what it takes to make the sale.

L - The “L” stands for Listener. A PSR may seem credible with lots of product and/or technical knowledge... but if he or she does not listen to the customer, the sale is less likely to be successful. A good PSR listens to the desires of the prospect and does an effective job of relating that information to the rest of the sales team. Listening is also crucial in the relationship between the Lead Sales Rep and the PSR, in order that the team functions effectively.

A - The “A” represents Accountability. Being accountable to both the sales team and prospect means doing what it takes to get answers when an important question arises about product functionality, technical capabilities, or service commitments. An effective PSR must be willing to diligently research the answers to questions. Providing well-researched, accurate answers trumps a spur-of-the-moment educated guess every time. It takes a team Attitude to win business; the PSR who proves his or her accountability to the team is truly an asset.

S - The “S” indicates Style. Style is that intangible presence the Sales Rep brings to the table. When the PSR has been brought in to support the sale, the PSR and the Sales Rep must work in tandem to represent the company and solutions for prospects. Style involves methodology—the manner in which information is relayed to the prospect. It includes identifying the level of simplicity or detail necessary to communicate that information. A PSR’s style should always convey Support and Sincerity and compliment the sales team.

S - The last “S” in CLASS stands for Selling. Never forget that the object is to eventually make the sale! An effective PSR should be intentional about focusing on the selling process. A prospect does not need all the answers to all the questions at once. A productive PSR participates in the sale rather than trying to control it. Keep this in mind with the previous qualities and you’ll end up being a strong selling influence with credibility, listening skills, accountability, and style.

In summary, the top notch PreSalesRep brings CLASS to the selling process and is a valuable asset to the sales team, the prospective customer, and the company he/she represents.

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