Artificial IntelligenceSales Enablement

Unlocking the Full Potential of Sales Engineers with AI

B2B selling has completely changed. Look at everything going on in the market: products are becoming more accessible, buyers are becoming more educated, and evaluations are becoming more hands-on. The tried and true methodology of cold outreach – from a sales development rep to a long sales cycle with a sales rep to technical POC from a PreSales engineer to ultimately a big services deployment – is no longer the way forward. 

We see that through product-led companies, consumption companies, and B2B sales-led companies that want to get their product into the hands of their buyers. B2B buyers and consumers want a very, very different buying experience.

With these changes, we’re also seeing the role of Sales Engineers evolve significantly. Due to the increasing complexity of products and services, coupled with the changing demands of customers, Sales Engineers have become multi-faceted and integral contributors to the company’s success. Yet, while the responsibilities of PreSales teams have expanded significantly, there has historically been a lack of investment in tooling specifically designed to support this group.

PreSales Does More Than Demo  

As companies increasingly lean on PreSales teams to deliver hands-on buying experiences and provide key insights to inform product strategy, this dissonance is becoming clear. To maximize their effectiveness, PreSales teams need tools designed to effectively capture and contextualize their findings and connect across their go-to-market and product teams. Under the right circumstances, PreSales teams can improve company efficiencies and boost the bottom line. 

To understand why Sales Engineers need additional support to unlock their full potential, it’s essential to understand how their role has evolved. Today, these teams play a pivotal role that extends far beyond simply demonstrating software and meeting with customers. They are often tasked with understanding intricate and multifaceted technologies, complex integrations, and addressing diverse customer needs; this may include solution design, technical consulting, troubleshooting, and even project management. 

The processes Sales Engineers currently have in place can no longer support the increasing complexity of their roles. For instance, key insights are typically compiled in notebooks or spreadsheets, making tracking progress a challenge and holistically understanding data near impossible. Further, every demo requires a live, in-person component. To capitalize on the potential of their evolving roles, Sales Engineers must be equipped with tools that will help them work smarter, and that can be integrated more fully into the go-to-market (GTM) team. 

AI is Key to Unleashing the Potential of PreSales 

The emergence of AI-powered tools is unlocking capabilities across a variety of industries and roles. PreSales teams are no exception. AI-integrated tools can bolster technical selling teams to unleash the full capacity of PreSales. For instance, AI tooling can enable Sales Engineers to connect customer insights directly into the broader product team roadmap, capture important insights about deals, and automate tedious and administrative product demonstration tasks. As a result, AI has the potential to give PreSales teams a more holistic look at their workflows and to measure progress in a way that hasn’t been available before.

AI-Empowered Workflows in Action

So, what exactly will AI-empowered workflows look like? Some of the ways the technology can bolster PreSales capabilities and provide PreSales leaders with new ways to drive productivity, increase capacity, and accelerate revenue include: 

  • PreSales operations: Tools can capture thousands of PreSales activities and use AI to summarize and recommend actions for Sales Engineers, increasing their ability to win deals, capture key insights and foster scalable and repeatable behaviors. 
  • Product alignment: AI can help maximize the ROI of the R&D team by analyzing, classifying and grouping product feature request data from prospect and customer conversations and merging these with R&D roadmap priorities.
  • Demo automation: AI-powered demo automation platforms allow Sales Engineers to increase capacity and win over key stakeholders by delivering fully interactive, customizable demos at scale.
  • Smart resource assignment: Operational data can improve resource management and team performance by recommending the right team members to pursue an opportunity based on availability, experience, and skill set. 

Today’s evolving sales environment demands a new approach to go-to-market strategies – one that increasingly relies on the rich insights captured from the PreSales team. While PreSales was once a siloed team with predefined responsibilities, there is a unique opportunity to expand beyond these boundaries. By embracing new AI-powered tools, Sales Engineers can confidently step into a new era of PreSales, revolutionize product strategy and drive direct impact to the bottom line.

Matt Darrow

An engineer by background, Matt Darrow has spent his 15+ year career in Enterprise software. Initially working at Deloitte building and deploying custom software solutions for the world's largest companies, Matt then discovered a career in Sales Engineering (PreSales) to leverage his deep knowledge of Enterprise systems and apply it toward business strategy. First at BigMachines (Acquired by Oracle) and then at Zuora (IPO), Matt's hands-on experience building and running global PreSales organizations gave him his unique market insight to build Vivun. Since the fall of 2019, Matt and the Vivun team have raised over $130M to build the first AI platform for PreSales to change how business to business (B2B) companies go-to-market. With products for PreSales Operations, Product-Sales Alignment, Demo Automation and Xpert Analytics, Vivun helps companies like Snowflake, ADP, Coupa and Docusign realize new levels of efficient growth.

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