KPIs for Pre-Sales roles
December 27, 2016 5:02 AM   Subscribe

I have a new role. Yay! I have been asked to lead a Pre-Sales team for my company. This is a new team being formed to help the company scale. The question how do we measure if we are successful

We are a medium-ish IT Services company that provides software development, consulting and associated services. Till now, we had only Sales and Development/delivery teams who jointly responded to any inquiries, RFPs etc.

The company is now poised for growth and the volume of incoming requests have grown to an extent where a dedicated team is needed to design solutions, respond to proposal requests, do initial client calls etc. I am now called to lead this team of 5.

Management is now asking me to set some KPIs that can demonstrate the value of this team - Sales can be measured by deals closed, revenue signed etc, while delivery teams have well-known metrics such as customer satisfaction, on-time/on-budget project completions etc. No one is sure how to measure Pre-Sales though!

Part of the difficulty is that it is an "Enablement" role with no accountability of closing the deal or delivering the deal. Are there any metrics that you have used/even read about that could help? I have tried to adapt Sales metrics, but those are not suitable for this role.
posted by theobserver to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Turn around time on receiving client requests to handing the lead over to sales?

Number of times the proposals are sent back to your team for rework?

Number of active leads the sales team is persuing that went through the pre-sale process?

You could even measure the amount of time sales works on a client after getting hand off from you and before signing the deal, as the theory of your department is that it will be less time since your team will have done a lot of the legwork (thus freeing up sales to sign more deals, etc etc).
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 5:50 AM on December 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

From the tasks you listed...

# of initial client calls / period of time
% of calls that lead to further action or a sale or whatever
Time to respond to proposal requests
Time to design solutions

One of the coolest things I saw in China recently is a little box where you could rate your customs experience. It lit up when the customs officer was done, had 5 or 6 buttons with different levels of smiley faces, and you just pushed the one that you felt represented your experience. I loved the simplicity, ease of use, and instant feedback. Maybe create a system like that to be used wherever the handoff to the next level is to measure customer satisfaction - one email with a selection of smileys they just have to do one click on. (I know nothing about the legwork or viability of that, so it might be a little far-reaching)

One more thing -- try to keep the KPIs simple and relevant. I'm leading a process to unravel my company's mess of KPIs, and it's ridiculous. Every sector (quality, maintenance, customer service, etc) had like 10 things they were measuring, very little of which actually impact the customer or the bottom line.
posted by Fig at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2016

At the end of the day the value of a dedicated pre-sales team should be more closed sales. If you aren't enabling revenue growth you won't have a job for long. Don't take your eye off the obvious ball. The reality of complex IT sales is that the sales rep job is mostly to get your team to the table where you can prove value to the client.
posted by COD at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've spent a lot of time in technical presales, and COD's answer is probably the best one. You should be working very closely with the account reps and be tracked primarily on closed sales. But there are some situations, especially for products with longer sales cycles selling to large, slow-moving organizations, where the technical evaluation is complete and successful but the deal doesn't close due to contracting or timing issues. In the cases, it's helpful to have the buyers and sellers sign off on a technical evaluation checklist before any pre-sales technical work starts. Make sure that your team, the sales team, and the customer agree on steps along the way towards a deal. This can provide some accountability on all sides, and in the case where the deal doesn't close, you have some evidence that the technical portion finished successfully. But really, it all boils down to closed deals.
posted by tybstar at 7:09 AM on December 27, 2016

At our company, we talk about output metrics (the actual business goals that might be hard to cleanly attribute to specific teams) and input metrics (proximate progress metrics that you have a lot of control over). For the recruiting team for example, the output metric is candidates hired. The input metrics are number of candidates sourced, number of onsites scheduled, glassdoor review, etc. Output is the thing that actually matters, but without input metrics to decompose the different pieces of what your team actually does to impact the output metric. Plus people need to have metrics that they can see their efforts in really clearly. Candidates can fail to get hired for all sorts of reasons outside the team's control (poor compensation packages, hiring managers don't sell effectively, company reputation is poor, etc.) and the team deserves to get credit for the pieces they can control while still keeping their eye on the real things.

I don't know Sales that well, but I think these categories can be useful categories. Folks are suggesting metrics in both categories in this thread and I think both are valuable. COD's suggestion seems like a good output metric (though I would suggest revenue not "# closed sales" unless your deals are all similarly sized to reward people for big deals properly) and the Fig's look like potential input metrics.

I would also advise to hold your metrics in mind loosely until the team really exists and you can figure out what makes the most sense. Having a strong output metric from the start is critical but the input metrics should probably evolve over the first year until you really figure out your process and which input metrics are most tightly connected to your output metrics. I've seen some companies get metrics obsessed and start tracking 10 things at once and then feeling like they're "not metrics driven" if they let go of a metric when they realize they don't actually care about it and are just spending time tracking and worrying about something arbitrary.
posted by heresiarch at 10:15 AM on December 27, 2016

Pre sales? Total funnel in, sourced, rate of inflow to sales handout. Cost out lead types, increase effectiveness of low cost leads first. Also calculate what does get closed by the sales reps from your pre sales leads vs. your peers.

Buthe at the end of ther day: is the job you are doing lowering the cost or raising the lifetime value of the customer you talk to.

Also, quicken the process. How many are bucketed in the bad service category....
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:12 PM on December 27, 2016

Excellent responses as usual.

As many of you have observed, the output metric is Revenue since I believe that Pre-Sales is part of the Sales team without being a Salesperson.

However, as heresiarch notes, there are many factors that control this output metric - pricing, resource capability, Sales ability and even competition sometimes. Being in a service org makes itslightly more difficult compared to a Product company.

Input metrics or leading indicators may be more easy to measure, but they are a measure of the efforts put in and may not impact the output metric (We may respond to a hundred requests on time with strong proposals, but only 2-3 may get closed due to various reasons).

@tybstar: I would love for prospects to say that you have passed the technical portion, but deal is not closed due to other factors, but most of our prospects don't seem to give a reason for dropping us. But it is an interesting take, and I will see how I can build it into the sales cycle.
posted by theobserver at 8:54 PM on December 27, 2016

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