Pre-Sales Consultants are an integral part of the sales team. They act as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in a particular field – e.g. business area, market or technology. They add value to an organisation by providing their expertise throughout the sales process and ultimately influencing sales.
They can report to a Head of Pre-Sales but usually report to a Sales Director. They are also known by other names, including Consultant (e.g. Risk Consultant), Sales Engineer and Sales Support Consultant.
Q: What Does a Pre-Sales Consultant Do?
A: Typically, a Pre-Sales Consultant does the following:
- Accompany salespeople on visits to prospects and clients.
- Deliver presentations and product demonstrations that require more in-depth or credible knowledge than the salesperson is able to provide.
- Liaise with Product Managers to provide feedback from clients about product requirements; or ideas to help them innovate or stay ahead of where the market is going.
- Carry out research to stay ahead of their particular area of expertise – including understanding the current & future market, product and competitor landscape.
- Manage the sales bid process, responding to RFI’s & RFP’s when a client or prospect puts an opportunity ‘out to tender’.
- Respond to technical questions about the product or related infrastructure.
Q: How Are Pre-Sales Consultants Paid?
A: Pre-Sales Consultants are usually paid a base salary and a bonus or commission. Bonuses are more common that commission and, on average, tend to vary between 15-30%.
Pre-sales Consultants tend not to carry sales targets. Instead, they are usually responsible for influencing sales and supporting the sales targets of dedicated sales executives. Their bonuses are dependent on the company – or specific solution revenue streams – meeting set targets.
Q: Who Can Do Pre-Sales?
A: Pre-Sales Consultants will often have a background within the market they are now ‘selling’ to. This is so that they are able to present themselves to clients as a credible subject matter expert in that market or product. For example, a Pre-Sales Consultant ‘selling’ Risk Management solutions to Investment Banks may have previously worked as a Risk Manager within a similar Bank.
Business Analysts sometimes enter into pre-sales due to the expertise they have developed implementing specific products into specific customer environments.
People who works in advisory divisions of consulting firms usually make ideal Pre-Sales Consultants.
Q: What Makes A Good Pre-Sales Consultant?
A: Typically, a Pre-Sales Consultant should have the following skills & experience:
- Subject matter expertise in a required field (ideally gained working within the market they are now ‘selling’ to).
- Strong client-facing skills, e.g. meeting & presenting to clients (ideally with experience dealing with similar types/levels of contact).
- Strong commercial skills including an understanding of the sales process (ideally gained within a similar, commercial environment).
- Strong communication skills, written & verbal.
- Strong problem solving skills including an ability to think ‘on their feet’ when faced with challenging questions in the sales environment.
- Experience managing the bid or proposal process including responding to RFI’s/RFP’s.
- (Technical Pre-Sales Roles Only) Technical skills.
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