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Presales transformation for the digital world: agile delivery, agile sales, what about presales?

Shibasis Sarkar

In this VUCA world, traditional ways of engaging with the client are no longer relevant. Presales plays a central role in educating, inspiring, and architecting the digital transformation journey for clients. A more agile, flexible, and non-linear approach is required. Capgemini has transformed not only its delivery and sales, but more importantly its presales, in order to cater to discrete manufacturers in the context of the Fast Digital 4 Discrete Industries initiative.

If agile is the way for project delivery, how can sales and presales lag? Agile, continuous delivery has become the norm in the software industry. Increasingly, even packaged solutions are delivered in an agile way. The barriers between software development and operations have fallen due to DevOps. In the multi-model IT world, speed and agility are key.

Sales are also becoming agile in their own way.  As the model evolves toward more co-creation and continuous engagement with the client, sales increasingly play a consultant role – a feat they cannot achieve on their own. This is where presales have always played their part. Presales need to get their act together in this emerging scenario. Agile sales need agile pre-sales and solutions.

Proactive and early engagement with the client, followed by continuous involvement through the entire journey – from discovery and explore/design to scale-up and execution – is the name of the game these days as solution providers sales/presales teams engage with the business directly. The business is under pressure to evolve quickly, hence the need for hyper-responsiveness and hyper- collaboration.

So, in keeping with the agile paradigm of sales, the actions of pre-sales also need to be choreographed:

Account-based sales – presales need to form teams with sales to engage with the customer continuously. Without having an ear to the ground, deep intimate knowledge of customers’ needs and motivations cannot be fathomed.

Advisory capability – presales and solution architects need to scale up to advise customers on innovation, strategy enablement, architecture, and roadmaps.

Innovation community – presales need to form extended relationships and collaborative communities internally and externally – an ecosystem of experts and startups that can be mobilized quickly in response to client needs.

Non-linear and flexible engagement process – to be truly agile, we cannot expect clients to follow the usual rigid sales/presales process of the provider. Rather, we need to align with the clients’ buying process. We need to inspire organizational stakeholders, innovate new business models, and implement new and disruptive technologies. This is what we did at Capgemini to devise an engagement approach to help discrete manufacturing companies on their transformation journey. This can take days and weeks rather than months and years. The emphasis is on exploration, rapid design and experimentation, and scale-up.

There could be several iterations in this process, leading the customer to directly execute the project without going through a formal procurement process.

The choice is clear, engagement processes and presales need to transform either as a spontaneous ad-hoc response to client demands and market pressures or as a coordinated action by the organizations. In other words, you can either take the journey, or fall by the wayside.