When the Sales Team Acts as Pre-Sales
The balance between pre-sales and sales
It is well known the importance of a pre-sales team in a technology and IT services business… Through the pre-sales the solution is generally shaped and the main high-level requirements are set and identified. But at the same time, it is through sales team the projects are opened! The sales cannot do the job of a pre-sales, while the pre-sales has to be with the sales team to be able to do his job. It is an important state of balance in a team… If this balance is disrupted, problems will happen.
When the pre-sales design the solution and the technical team then takes the initiative, they have to be aware of what to do. In some organizations, the team is small to a point where a technical engineer can do pre-sales job. With this situation, it becomes even harder to maintain the state of the balance between sales and pre-sales. With this state, the technical engineer has to do a work for two people. This is not an issue by itself… But when there are two people doing the same work in a conflicting way, then this becomes a big issue.
When you break the balance!
Through out my career, I’ve seen many cases where the sales were making the work much harder for the technical team because of a miscommunication happened between all the sides of a project. The technical engineer’s job in this situation is to listen to the customer requirements, and build the project and the plan. The plan can be a template or can be built from scratch.. does not matter. But what matters is the bad situation an engineer suddenly finds himself in when he receive a request from one sales colleague to ‘make a plan for a new project with x,y,z requirements, and start the work immediately on this project’…
That is a very bad situation to put the technical team in, because literally they are being asked to fail that project… You don’t go to a customer find out everything about him, then go to your team and give them the project details and requirements in 3 or 4 lines then expect them to build a perfect plan and execute it well!
If we are talking about a project involve an existing environment, then we are risking all kinds of disruptions and problems to be caused to the existing environment because the engineers don’t know about the required details.
And if we are talking about a new environment, then this is a risk for the project handover as the engineers did not implement the project the way the customer want or the way it fulfills the customer’s requirements, because all they know is a 3 or 4 lines requirements statement!
What I think is the cause for this situation?
The biggest cause in my thinking is the management’s failure to build a good team. I’ve seen this and I lived it. I saw managers don’t give a little thought about how their team is unhealthy and how broken apart it is. They either hire 10 sales, and 1 technical engineer… Or make the other way around… Either making the engineer a workhorse causing him eventually to burn out due to the massive pressure on him from 10 sales, or paying a group of lazy people who pretend to be working while having nothing to do for days or weeks…
When a manager neglect the investment on his team, you should know he is not going to successfully invest on his work. A man’s work comes first from his people. If your people hate you, or are burning out from the work, or being treated badly, you will fail.
I’ve seen people around taking the matter of opening a new business so easy that they fail the next day. I’ve seen people fail to plan their new business then make a chaos and mess when they start it. And I’ve seen people start humble and realistic, then get blinded by greed, ego, and non-sense when their business start to get some success. Those people are the worst… They will tell you this is what I have, take it or leave it, even if you were a founder with them since the beginning!
The investment on a team is more important that the direct investment in the market or on a new project or product. It is the people who will bring these new projects or products… People AND money… NOT money alone, and NOT people alone… It is the combination of both. Good investment on people is never a loss.
I haven’t got the experience yet to talk at this level… But what I know is organizing work is the ultimate solution. In fact everything related to management and processes is to achieve this goal. Human resources are an important aspect of each organization. Having a messy or badly managed/organized HR is a disaster for any company… And it is a disaster for any employee who wants to join that organization!