The career path of a Pre Sales professional has been traditionally limited to either Sales or Pre Sales Management as progressive options. While I’ve seen some Pre Sales professionals make excellent sales people, far more have tried and found that they don’t like it—especially in a hunter role where they have the pressure of a quota and are tasked with grinding out cold calls.
Pre Sales Management will always be an open career path for those who want to coach and mentor others in the craft. However, the rapidly evolving landscape of SaaS software offers a few new paths for the Pre Sales professional who is ready to make the next step in their career.
Customer Success departments are relatively new roles in the world of SaaS organizations—and they are rapidly becoming a high priority for growing SaaS firms looking to up sell and renew existing contracts.
The old adage, “it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to get a new one,” applies here. Customer Success roles combine client-facing communications and technical ability—allowing many Pre Sales professionals to thrive in the role.
These are post-sales relationships so there is no pressure to hunt new accounts. Of course, the bonus upsides are not as great, however the impact Customer Success can have and their importance to the revenue stream make these roles an exciting potential for candidates with Pre Sales experience to explore.
For Pre Sales Professionals who don’t like the pressure of a hunter-type sales role may find that a position in Relationship Management is a great next step, as the pressure to attain targets is somewhat lessened.
These are consultative roles that require a certain degree of gravitas and credibility with the technical audience. Relationship Manager roles often combine Pre and Post Sale activities, as vendors look to maximize their revenue and drive success. With the prevalence of product-led sales dynamics, the ability to build relationships and gain credibility and rapport, skills that Pre Sales naturally develop over time, are more highly valued.
Strategy Consultant roles combine a client-facing comfort with technical road-mapping. Depending on the firm, I’ve seen them called Innovation Strategist, Vale Engineer, Industry Principal, and Engagement Manager—so titles certainly vary.
These consulting roles are often “bespoke” engagements, with a business or finance background preferred in the lead, but a Pre Sales background can enable success in terms of being able to see the big picture and add credibility from either a technical or SME perspective. The value of a business consultant can be augmented by the technical expertise that Pre Sales professional brings to the table. I’ve also seen that the Pre Sales perspective—being able to take the overall holistic view of the client—is valuable in a client-facing consulting role.
Career transitions are often difficult, and there’s never a guarantee of success. For the Pre Sales professional looking to make a move—but don’t want the pressure of hunter style sales roles, and aren’t passionate about leading and coaching others—may find a great next step in one of these three emerging roles.
As for questions about compensation, we’ve found that context matters. Check out our Salary Insights series, where we’re sharing salary data from recent searches in order to help the tech industry better understand the factors that impact compensation.