In today's expansive landscape of software vendors spanning many solution categories, the role of presales has huge importance. While every category benefits from presales support, the degree of dependence on these experts can vary. Among the various solution categories, including Financial Management Software, Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Project Management, and Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, one domain stands out for its complexity... Cybersecurity.
Understanding the Variability in Presales Dependence:
Firstly, being a presales expert in any category is a tough gig. However, the more complex a solution is, the more reliant you’ll be on the presales team to get opportunities successfully converted. For example, project management solutions might sit on the slightly less dependent side of the scale. Concepts like task management, progress tracking, and collaboration are comprehensible and relatable for customers. However, presales dependence could still be significant, especially for larger & more complex deals.
At the more dependent side of the scale is Cybersecurity, one of the most complex categories. The intricacy is such that it segments into subdomains like Security Operations, Application Security, Data Security, and Identity & Access Management. For instance, within Data Security alone, a vendor might have five to six distinct products that may not knit together easily. It’s almost impossible for anyone to truly claim they are a cybersecurity ‘expert’ considering how broad it is. AEs often cover the entire security portfolio. This will be high-level but still a huge amount of information to take in given the disparate technologies and sheer number of products and use cases to be aware of.
Quite often a cybersecurity vendor will have dedicated presales specialists that are focused solely on one area such as data security. They will also be expected to have ‘T-shaped skills’, being able to speak to the rest of the wider security portfolio where needed.
The Ever-Expanding Role of Cybersecurity Presales:
Cyber companies continually access the gaps in their portfolios and either develop new solutions or acquire other companies to fill the gaps. When this happens, presales now must master a new product ASAP. Those who were previously seen as specialists in one area, now have taken 1 step closer to becoming a generalist with the ever-increasing number of products to support to further add to the strain.
Key Factors Amplifying Presales Dependence in Cybersecurity:
Complexity: Unlike other domains, in cybersecurity, AEs usually don't conduct product demos due to the complexity involved. Instead, all demos are managed by presales. Presales are also key in discovery (and qualification) to fully understand the issues and confirm if it’s a good fit.
Customized Solutions: The winning cyber solution often extends beyond an out-of-the-box offering. Presales must not only be experts in their specific products but also have comprehensive knowledge of supported infrastructures, integrations, and security protocols.
Proof of Value / Concept (POV / POC) Heavy: A significant number of customers need proof that a solution functions seamlessly within their unique environment and with their data. POVs / POCs can be a huge drain on resources and this demand stretches the already overstretched presales teams further.
Threat Landscape: Presales experts must remain up to date with the ever-changing landscape of vulnerabilities, attack surfaces, and industry best practices. Their ability to provide these insights adds immense value to the sales process but it isn’t easy to keep up to date.
Risk and Compliance Focus: The stakes are high in cyber. Presales need to conduct extra due diligence to ensure that the risks of data breaches, financial penalties, and reputational damage are mitigated. Their role as trusted advisors significantly influences buying decisions, particularly given the lengthy sales cycles that often extend beyond nine months.
The Role of Demo Automation to Scale Presales:
One of the most effective ways to scale presales is with demo automation. The demand for demos has increased and made it imperative to equip presales teams with the means to do more with the same resources. Demo automation empowers presales experts to create comprehensive (and on-demand) demo libraries that operate on a set-and-forget principle. This innovative approach allows optimal presales support for each deal and allows AEs to take some pressure off by running early-stage demos. Timesaving and focus are key too with this approach freeing up presales’ overstretched capacity. This allows focus on high-impact activities, whether that is working on the bigger opportunities, larger accounts, key POCs, or the later stages of the sales cycle.
Wrapping it up!
The world of cybersecurity solutions relies heavily on the expertise of presales. Their ability to navigate complexity, customize solutions, provide compelling POVs / POCs, be aware of evolving threats, and manage risk and compliance pressure is pivotal in an environment where security and trust are crucial. The use of demo automation can be the key to scale presales in the already overstretched cybersecurity landscape and allow presales to focus on high-impact activities.