Episode 007 – How PreSales Experience Can Help You Excel in Other Tech Roles: Insights from Pratik Patel

Summary

This week, we speak with a former manager of mine, Pratik Patel, who is currently VP of Operations & Business Intelligence at Hone.  If you're considering a career in tech and are open to, or interested in, a PreSales role, then this episode is a must-listen! 

We dive into Pratik's roots in consulting and operations, which led to his growth into a post-sales role that ultimately led to his transition into PreSales and beyond. Tune in to discover how this role can give you a strong experience advantage that you can apply in your career growth journey to other tracks within tech like cybersecurity, full-stack engineering, or operations and analytics like Pratik has done!

Even if you are already in a PreSales position and wondering how you can advance to other roles, this conversation will offer valuable insights. Listen in and let me know what part of the conversation you found most helpful!

Resources Discussed


PLEASE NOTE: I use an AI-based service for episode transcriptions, so please forgive any transcription typos found below!

[00:00:00] Matt Madden: Hey everyone. This is Matt Madden, and today I'm honored to have somebody that I've learned so much from in my pre-sales journey on the show. Pratik Patel. Welcome to the Path of Pre-Sales Podcast, man.

[00:00:11] Pratik Patel: Thank you, Matt. Real excited to be here.

[00:00:13] Matt Madden: Absolutely. Well, I know we've got a lot of ground to cover, and I just wanted to start by having you take us through and just give a high level overview of where you're at today, and then we can dive into your journey leading up to that point and specifically getting into, you know, the part of that where you're really leading within pre-sales and just everything related to that.

That sounds good to you.

[00:00:36] Pratik Patel: Sounds great. Sounds great. Yeah. So, currently I work at a learning company called Hone. my position there is the Vice President of Operations and Business Intelligence. And what Hone offers is, Soft skill classes to teach to your managers and directors in your company. So if you have a hundred new managers in your company and you suddenly need to teach them soft skills, you would come to hone where they learn how to coach junior employees, deliver feedback, some of the basic skills that they need to be good managers.

that's what we sell at hone.

[00:01:10] Matt Madden: Amazing and. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've seen since we worked together, at, my prior company, your prior company Centrl you've had quite an amazing journey of growth and congratulations by the way. within that, I know my understanding is your role is operationally focused today.

Could you speak a little more about that journey and, and what that's been like before we, circle back to your pre-sales experience?

[00:01:33] Pratik Patel: Yeah, absolutely would love to cover sort of my career at a high level. It's been all over the place, to be honest. I, I started my career in, in technology consulting, working for a company called Capgemini, where we would work with large enterprises large. Organizations that were looking to go through some significant process changes or technology changes, and we'd help guide them through, that decision making process and implement that new technology.

And so my role there was to be client facing, understand the needs of these organizations, decide which technology solution would meet those needs, and then help implement that technology across the organization. Really, really great experience to give me insight into how these big businesses work, how they think about technology choices for these big ticket, software purchases.

from there, you know, I really wanted to join the startup world. I always wanted to learn how to build things, and it felt like a right time for me to do so. And so I joined, uh, a company called CourseHorse based in New York City, and they were a marketplace for, for classes. So where you would go to find, Cooking classes in New York City, art classes in New York City, that sort of thing.

And my role there was actually primarily sales. I wanted to join a startup and really the only. Sort of role I could qualify for at that small of a company was in sales. And so I did SMB sales for about two years. Um, that was a very interesting learning experience for me. I, I learned that, I can sometimes be pretty sensitive in taking a rejection and a no from, uh, from an SMB customer.

And, and that was honestly a really an opportunity for me to develop professionally in that way, but also personally. There was a lot of

personal development, building a, a thick skin, being able to call someone who doesn't know anything about your brand, um, and try and sell them from scratch, right.

That was, that was very scary for me personally, but also a tremendous professional development opportunity and one that I think a lot of folks who come from my sort of background kind of operations and consulting, they don't really

get an opportunity to do that, and that really did inform my jump to presales later.

So stayed at Core Source for a while, eventually moved into a leadership operations role there. joined Central after that. And Matt, that's where you and I worked together. And so Central is a,

amongst other things, a data privacy enterprise software company with a traditional pre-sales and post-sales operation.

And so I originally joined in a post-sale, capacity where, After we had sold, our, very expansive software solution to, in some cases a large financial institution, I would then come in to help implement that solution. So it was entirely a post-sale role. Basically project management, again, client facing to understand the needs of customer and, and really implement their. During that process, I got pulled into more pre-sales opportunities just based upon the expertise that I was building on the post-sale side. and we were able to win some initial deals. And so there's an opportunity for me to be promoted into a lead on the pre-sale side as we won a few of those deals.

And for me, it felt like just the perfect combination of. The skillsets that I had built up until that point. One, understanding how technology, is built at a high level, how enterprise customers think about it, what their needs are, what the obstacles that they face. and then on the sales side, that early sales experience I think really helps me understand that.

it's all about value-based selling.

And that really helped me to succeed in that role. and so to make a long story short, spent a decent amount of time in pre-sales there at Central about a year and a half, two years. built a team with you as our star on it as well.

And then about a year and a half ago, joined home and really moved back into more of an operational leadership role.

Uh, was able to recently get promoted from a director to a vp. and primarily that was because of my ability to jump into and provide a lot of process support for the sales process based upon my experience at Central and, and, pre-sales generally. So, a bit of a ramble there, Matt, but, that's my story.

[00:05:41] Matt Madden: it definitely helps connect the dots and there are certain points along the way that you mentioned that I wanna unpack a little more. But, uh, thanks, Pratik, that's really helpful I think just for everybody to get a sense of that. And I, I learned so much. and not just saying this to make you feel good cuz you're on the podcast today, but I truly did learn so much under your leadership and, for somebody, that, was, it sounded like almost by necessity thrown into the fire from post-sales to pre-sales, to step up and help lead and develop and grow that function within Centrl, uh, which you absolutely did.

And, again, just grateful for lessons learned there. And I'll mention some specific. Things that were takeaways from me that I'd love to just get your perspective on, how you think about those today and continue to grow But, I'm curious to know, with the journey you just described, where was the first point in which professionally you started, overlapping with or engaging with knowing about people that are in pre-sales roles, like solutions engineers, sales engineers, et cetera.

[00:06:37] Pratik Patel: Yeah, that's, that's a great question. Honestly, it was right when I started my career, it was in consulting where we would be on these gigantic projects. we would be brought into this enterprise customer. They would say, Hey, we want to accomplish this giant business goal in three years. Here's the process that you need to support that business transformation, and this is the technology and the systems that you'll need to do that.

[00:07:00] Matt Madden: Mm.

[00:07:01] Pratik Patel: As we got into that, that deeper phase of the project, then it would be a vendor selection phase of the

project where we would specifically determine which were our shortlisted vendors, reach out to them, and then work very closely with the sales and solutions engineers at those vendors to design a solution that we think would meet the needs of.

the customer that we were consulting with. Right. And so

that was my first exposure to them. And that was both sales engineers on the pre-sale side and solutions engineers on the post-sale side. And that's really where I started to learn, oh, what is, what is this new role? It seems to be an interesting combination of someone

who has a technical competence, and someone who has a sales competence, which for me, at an early stage in my career seems seemed very interesting.

[00:07:48] Matt Madden: Amazing. that makes total sense. Especially as I reflect on my experience more so at Centrl where we were engaging with. Different consultants similar to where you worked prior. and we get to that stage, you're deeper in the project. You're being brought in as the technology solution.

They're recommending maybe going through an RFP process. And that's certainly an area. Just to mention one of those growth areas for me while I was at Central that you helped me learn and kind of empowered me to dive into is, how do we manage different. Standard buying processes that organizations might have, that we might be involved with, where we're trying to, help our company get their name in the ring, from RFIs to RFPs, and for people out there who.

Haven't necessarily experienced an RFP that just stands for request for a proposal and there are some variations there, you request for information and so on. So I'd just like to, as we're going through, be mindful of, there might be folks that are just hearing this for the first time and there's a lot of terminology obviously, that you start to learn as you get into the role or just work in tech in general.

That is like, well what is that? and so, you know, if I call out some definitions along the way or feel free to as well, that's why. And if you're out there listening, you're like, of course I know what an RFP is, then bear with us. But yeah, So with that, one thing I'd really love to learn critique is how your initial inroads from doing more consulting focused work into post sales and your experience within post sales made you a better.

Pre-sales, team member and leader, just the experience you gained there. Could you speak a little bit on that?

[00:09:24] Pratik Patel: Yeah, yeah, for sure. similar to when I first joined Sales First, joining consulting was also a tremendous personal and professional growth experience for me, and that's basically because, honestly don't know how they're able to sell this, but I was 22 years old, you know, in a room where you have to seem credible.

You have to be client facing

and you have to do it quickly, even when you don't necessarily have everything you need to be credible. And so that ability to be client facing, to be customer facing, even in precarious situations, was something that, you had to learn. In consulting and that's really helped me throughout my career, right?

when I started getting into sales at Centrl, that ability to have that version of yourself, which is client facing and customer facing, but still have it be a very genuine aspect of yourself that. Was huge there. And definitely when I, got into pre-sales, that ability to jump on with these enterprise customers was absolutely crucial on the post-sale side.

I would say that's really where it forces you to understand how applications are structured at a high level. Right. So for folks outside of technology or folks inside of technology who may have heard the term tech stack, that's basically the stack. Of technologies and systems that all work together to make your solution operate.

working in post sales, working in implementations, you need to understand that stuff even if you're not technical, quote unquote, right? And so understanding how the application operates, how those different systems and tools speak with each other to, make your whole thing operate is, is really key.

And being able to then take that expertise into the pre-sales conversation just creates a sense of credibility. That can actually increase the close rate. And that's real,

right? That credibility that you provide with that expertise is a big deal in the sales process. Absolutely. and then I would also say in addition to understanding how an application is structured, I would also say understanding how data is structured at a high level is also very useful.

And that was something that I had to learn again as we were implementing. In most of these systems, there's always some sort of reporting tool or infrastructure embedded into it. And so understanding the data and the source systems that are being piped into that tool and how they're structured at a high level was also very, very important, to build credibility and to speak through reporting capabilities, in any level of specificity.

And so I think on the postal side, it really.forces you to get down to the minute detail, the tactics and the specifics of the system, and then if you're able to then kind of swim back up to surface and then combine all those things and be able to speak to them at a value-based and strategic level, then I think you can really add a lot of value to the pre-sales process.

[00:12:29] Matt Madden: That makes complete sense. And I love your point about having the ability to. you're in that process, like you mentioned, doing the value-based selling, you're, strategically aligning, you're effectively consulting, understanding the requirements of a new prospect, trying to confirm, make sure it's a good fit.

It's absolutely key to be sure you understand the tech stack, as you mentioned, how this comes together to deliver on the value to know, am I. Realistically setting expectations, because obviously the last thing you don't want is, to sell some pipe dream that doesn't really fit with the product or, you know, whatever the service may be, and so on.

And so that was one of the things, in my growth and learning journey as I got to learn,the central platform, for example, where we work together, that, just spending the time and you giving me the room to really learn and dive into. That side of the house, post sales perspective, being involved in conversations where they're sharing implementations, where they're bringing on the new clients and helping them get, integrated and stood up with the technology was so huge because then, when you're in a presales rolled you can truly be the trusted advisor in the conversation there, and as you mentioned, can give you huge credibility that is required just because they know with confidence that you know what you're talking about as you get into it.

[00:13:51] Pratik Patel: that's exactly right. And, and I would say just on top of that, as you get deeper into to post sales and implementation, it's, it's a couple of different things. One, it's primarily a project management role. So you're diving into the technical details, but then you're zooming back out to then build a plan to actually get this thing implemented and, and realize the value, that was bought, right?

And so

understanding the different phases of that project, especially later, if you're then brought into the sales process further down. The funnel where you've been shortlisted, you are the likely vendor, but you may have challenges around implementation. Having that project management perspective really does help that end of sales process around that.

And then two, you start to also understand some of the implicit challenges that these, customers face, and specifically the champions, The members of the project on the client side

who have to actually. Create the behavior change internally at the organization to adopt a new process or use a new tool.

For example, they are suddenly thinking about how do they internally evangelize this? How do they make it easy for new people to use this tool? Understanding those aspects of the implementation project plan and those specific challenges that the project team on the client side will be facing as they enact this change.

Can't really help you on the sales side. You basically are understanding their needs and their challenges before they can even state them or before they even realize that those are gonna be challenges. And so again, to kind of the theme here, it's really about building that credibility with them and having that expertise and that specificity really does lend to building that credibility.

[00:15:37] Matt Madden: Absolutely. And I love that you brought up how. The project management element of the post-sale side really can extend into making you a very effective, pre-sales individual contributor or leader because certainly, Some of the most important things I've learned about project management. and within that, setting proper expectations, giving yourself a buffer to, effectively get things done when you're managing, projects that involve multiple teams that all have a seat, in role within the project is something that, I learned a lot from you just throughout various projects, and I'd love for.

You do share your perspective, just in general. It doesn't necessarily have to be, pre-sale specific, but when you think about project management, I mentioned some of the key things that helped me a lot in my journey working with you. But as you've continued to evolve how you think about projects for people that are out there, I mean, if they're looking to break into the role, I think the process of. Trying to break into tech in general can be looked at as one big project. So are there any kind of first principles that you would share or boil it down to when they think about the interview process and then when they get into a role that they're going after that, that you'd like to share with them?

[00:16:53] Pratik Patel: That's a great question. and I think in general for folks who would like to break into presales and who would like to break into technology in general, it's all about getting your finger on the pulse, right? There's so much content that's freely accessible, that gives you really great insight into what's actually happening in technology.

And so for me, I would say on the podcast side, listening to the All In podcast is awesome. I. That will give you really every week a sense of what everyone is, talking about the latest developments of technology really where a lot of the trends, a lot of the money is going into the future, right?

And if you understand where the developments of technology are happening, you can understand where you could potentially jump in, And where there's funding, where there's gonna be jobs. So for sure, I would say listening to, Podcast like All in. similarly, there's newsletters that you should be signing up for.

So through

CK

is a place where basically independent journalists go to, essentially write their own pieces and, support themselves. But also you'll have founders and VCs who have their own newsletters on ck. That is also incredibly valuable for you to understand what is happening in tech and where you should be going to find a new job.

If you would like to break into tech, Aside from that,

I'm trying to think, um, those are really good to kind of understand everything that's happening in tech. If you've never been in tech, and you would like to get into pre-sales. I think that the best way to get into it is actually through sales.

Is to start as an AE or as an SD r. That is the way the entrance for non-tech folks to join a technology company and quickly learn everything about what it takes to operate a technology company

and also learn, is this actually something that you wanna do? Right?

And so for me, I think breaking into it from the sales side is the method

That will give you the exposure and the experience needed to eventually move into a pre-sales role. but Matt, I may have taken on this question in a different direction. You know, let me know.

[00:18:57] Matt Madden: No, that's perfect. I love the resources you shared. I've never heard the All In podcast, so I'm gonna go dive in, uh, as well. And I'll link to that in the show notes, of course, once I get those live. but yeah, pik, after we. Stop recording. I might pick your brain. Are there any newsletters in particular?

You don't have to name Drop 'em now, but I can include those too. I certainly love both of those as a source. I'm a little biased on the podcast front. Obviously a good channel, but I think I've, especially if you're somebody who's busy trying to break into a new field, which I think at least for.

Target listeners of this particular podcast. I imagine that to be the case for most of them. That was certainly the case for me when I was not necessarily at a tech company and I was hoping to break in, years back. really, for me having a sales background, I certainly can relate to that journey and I can help people, speak to, what's it like if that's where you're coming from, and then trying to build your technical skills to compliment those soft skills that hopefully you've developed or you're.

Continuing to develop in your current role today, from communication to, account management and so on. but yeah, I love that perspective and, I do agree with you there. and helpful to know this is coming from somebody that necessarily didn't start out in a pure sales role, got involved with it, as you mentioned earlier, PRITE.

And then learned a lot in that journey that, went on to inform what you're doing on the pre-sales and post-sale side. And I mean, a big part of the role as people learn as they're self-educating if they wanna break into it or once they've transitioned into it, is how key just being mindful and fully aware of the sales motion and the fact that, the technical win that we're striving to help deliver is.

Something that happens hand in hand with the account executive you're partnered with, and just that partnership there, is key. So now I'm rambling a bit on that, but, excited about where you went with that. So, yeah, I guess as a next question, We started talking about resources and building on that.

I'd love to learn a little more about just habits and approaches that you've adopted or worked on over the years in your journey that you think might be helpful for other peoples to hear about. Like when you think about, Hey, here's a new thing I wanna learn. how do you typically tackle that?

[00:21:11] Pratik Patel: That's a great question. and honestly, joining the tech world and in general, and also startups for sure, you have to learn how to learn something on your own, right? For the

most part, people are figuring it out. Right. They are figuring it out. They're experimenting, they're failing, they're iterating until they get it right.

You know? And so there's a muscle that you have to build when you join tech. And I would say, honestly, especially pre-sales, because there's just, I, I think this, this podcast is a great example of the need to make content that really helps presales professionals. So there's really not a lot out there.

That tells you how do you do this really well? And so I would say for sure joining tech and pre-sales in general, you have to build that muscle. What has worked for me personally is to think about it in two different ways.

And so you have a new problem that as far as you can tell, it's not ever really been solved before.

and how do you solve it? You can either have internal resources or external resources. And so an example of an internal resource is your colleagues. And so you may have colleagues, especially senior colleagues who have worked at places that have solved similar problems.

[00:22:29] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:22:30] Pratik Patel: And so you can. Directly, speak with those executives.

It sounds simple, but a lot of times those executives may not even realize that the specific experience and knowledge that they have gained and built is actually relevant for you in this situation, and so you have to directly go out and get that information from them. That honestly, Matt has been the most common way of me figuring out a new problem is looking at the LinkedIn of all of our execs on our team, looking at the different companies that they worked at and the different problems that were solved at those companies writ large and getting their take on how those companies solved their problems.

Because if their execs, they will know how those problems were solved. So that

for sure is a big one. The second biggest internal resource that has been really successful to me is to find someone. Who has expertise in the problem you're trying to solve, or tangential expertise that is in the network of your founders of your company or the VCs of your company?

So you go to your founder's LinkedIn page, you see everyone that they're connected to. Most founders are extremely well connected with other founders. And if you find another founder of a company, that is solving a similar problem in another industry or even in your industry, but you know, slightly different problem, get your founder to intro you to their founder and speak to someone on their team.

In a lot of cases, what will

work is a knowledge trade. So you'll basically say, Hey, we do this thing really well, like we know how to. optimize your site for search engines, right? We're gonna now teach you how to do that. In exchange, you're gonna tell us how to build an offshore team that can do A, B, and C.

Right. That is a real thing that happens because again, all these startups, all these tech companies are solving these problems. It's not like they're sharing it externally. Right? Why would they? However, if you have a connection

to that company, they will share it with you, especially if you can trade that, right?

So I would consider that internal, internal resources, and between your venture capitalists and their networks and your founders and their networks, I can tell you, you most likely will find someone who can help you, So that's one that's internal resources.

and then second is external resources, right?

Which is, I'm gonna contradict what myself a little bit here in the sense that there, there are a lot of folks who do write a lot and who do, talk about the problems that they've solved.

[00:24:50] Matt Madden: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:50] Pratik Patel: And so there are, like I was mentioning before, other podcasts, other newsletters of luminaries or professionals in this specific field that you're trying to get into, follow them.

Even if it just means following them on LinkedIn, seeing what articles they're reposting, seeing what they're liking, that's your way in. but to be honest, those internal resources that I mentioned, that's how we created a process around. Figuring out something right that you don't know how to do.

[00:25:16] Matt Madden: I love that and I. Appreciate how tactical that recommendation is. I want to take it a step further. If you could just give a hypothetical scenario for somebody that's like, wow, I think that's something we need to start working on today. When they hear this, and they go on LinkedIn, they start looking at their network.

when you're in that scenario, Pratik, and you've tried this and done this successfully, How do you typically start that process? I mean, in terms of just messaging and authentically connecting based on what you know and the research you've done thus far up to that point.

[00:25:48] Pratik Patel: Yeah, that's a really great question. and to a degree it matters the scale of what we're talking about. Like that example that I shared earlier was a real one that we faced a course horse, which was,

um, We, were able to build really highly efficient offshore teams, and that was really valuable for other startups because it was a low-cost way of basically getting processes done and scaling.

And so we would frequently. And my founder would be the one who would do the introduction at a certain point, he just had a template that he would use,

and it would just say, in, in template would be, Hey, we would like to learn a, uh, we would love to teach you about B in exchange. Right. That sort of thing.

to the point where a, again, it was templated and easy for the founder to do. so in that case, we exchanged teaching them how to build an offshore team. In, in some cases, they taught us how to optimize our website for search engines.

After that initial intro was made, typically then delegation happens where on the other side, the founder then delegates to whoever the project contact will be for me.

And then I will reach out directly BCC the founders, and then set up that direct relationship with my, corresponding colleague at the other company. and then we take it from there, right? But if it's more of a high level thing, Like for example, here at home, we had a strategic initiative to move up market.

Get bigger customers, right? And so I then looked at the execs that we had on our team at Hone. I noticed that our head of product had worked for another startup that had gone through a similar transformation where they started with more s and b mid-market customers, and then had moved towards enterprise customers, which then eventually got them acquired.

and I had a very deep conversation with him where I reached out specifically and I said, Hey, I'm trying to take ownership over this move up market strategic initiative. I noticed that's something that you guys did really well at Clint. And he literally said like, oh, right, I forgot we did do that really well.

Oh my God. Yeah, let's talk about it. Right. And we had like an amazing in-depth conversation

around everything that they learned at his previous startup that allowed them to move up market. And we, we really synthesized that conversation and translated it into some really substantial improvements. And so,

um,

[00:28:00] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:28:02] Pratik Patel: the process is, it's a little different I think, depending on the scale of, of what you're trying to learn.

[00:28:07] Matt Madden: That's amazing. that's something I think can be useful for me to think about, in my current role and just opportunities there. And for somebody that is trying to break into the role.

When you think about networking within LinkedIn, it can be. Somewhat intimidating, likely if you're thinking about, Hey, here's this company or these companies I'd love to work for. What's the best way for me to start authentically engaging with folks who are there, uh, without necessarily showing up and throwing up, pitching myself, but starting to build value in ways that, you can exchange value as the person who intends to be a candidate, perhaps, like they wanna move into that pre-sales role.

Uh, When, when we take what we just talked about, with value sharing, connecting and networking from one company to another, do you have any recommendations kind of taking in and applying it to the use case of that person, that candidate who's wanting to go, and, engage maybe in a similar way, let's share value in a way that, that really helps me stand out as, as a candidate.

[00:29:10] Pratik Patel: That's exactly right. and that's really what it comes down to.

it's all about that hustle. And I think what I learned from those exchanges of value that we did, in my past is that that is certainly. A viable way to initiate a conversation on LinkedIn with a random professional,

right? If you're gonna be reached out by Iran Professional, then obviously you wanna see some value out of it. There's some aspects of you that are completely altruistic, but for the most part, you're gonna ignore those messages. And so if you're

an experienced professional and you think that you do have something of value to offer to this individual that can be gleaned from a, a coffee conversation, then I would put that into your message and be outright.

In what you are trying to get from that conversation, which is trying to learn if you could be a good candidate for that role in exchange, really share a lot of your experience that may be helpful for that particular individual. That's one, right? Two,

[00:30:05] Matt Madden: Mm-hmm.

[00:30:05] Pratik Patel: I remember back in my days as a student and I actually wanted to start a startup in college and I was able to leverage my status as a student.

To basically get free time with any, sort of professional.

and I think that it was because I genuinely wasn't trying to get anything from them other than

learn from them. Right. and I think that that in a way appeals to the ego of some people. Not to be nefarious here, but if you

are just reaching out to someone and you're saying, listen, I, looking at your LinkedIn, it looks like you have the exact career that I would want.

and I would love 15 minutes of your time,to really just get your feedback on, how I could make myself the, best possible candidate there. How do I break it into that industry? And

[00:30:57] Matt Madden: Mm-hmm.

[00:30:58] Pratik Patel: that will work. That will work. If you're coming at it from a, a place of genuine curiosity, and you're not looking to just use that as a reason to then ask them for a job at the end of that 15 minute conversation, then.

You will build a genuine connection with someone and it may or may not end up resulting in, you getting shortlisted or them thinking of you when another similar role comes up. so I would say approach it with a genuine curiosity, a desire to learn and folks will help you. Not everyone, but some will.

[00:31:30] Matt Madden: I love that. Yeah, and I think sharpening that skill of. Being curious when you're going to engage. I mean, obviously people are quick to pick up on is this person authentically wanting to just learn more about this? I mean, even if they know that, if you've directly told them, which is probably great to be transparent, Hey, I'm really interested in your particular company.

Would love to learn about, your role. Because if I were to, go and work there one day, that would be the ideal state for me. Just kind of doing what you're doing and wanna pick your brain. Uh, but like you said, Not trying to pitch them at the end, thinking about that. But you know, as that extends to when you do move into, say, a pre-sales focus role, and you are very much throughout the journey, helping conduct discovery, you're expressing and you learn ways to better dig into, that kinda learner's mindset, that same level of curiosity, what are the real pains in the, business issues that are keeping you up at night and just trying to help.

Get to clarifying, is our solution actually a good fit for you or not? And if it is really understanding that deeply, because of that conversation, and that authentic engagement, the trust you're building in that process.

[00:32:42] Pratik Patel: That's exactly right.

[00:32:43] Matt Madden: Awesome. Well, one of the things that I think is, helpful just in general, we've covered a lot of the ground in terms of where I wanted to go with this conversation, which I love, which is, what are some just very tactical things you can think about if you are looking to potentially break into a pre-sales focus role?

what are some. particular considerations if you're coming from, not having any tech experience at all and you're just looking to first break in and maybe pre-sales as a goal down the line. and you also have touched on some things where it's like, Hey, maybe I'm working already today in a consulting capacity or in an operations team or so on.

or post-sales even, especially for your journey. How do I then transition into pre-sales? And I think what would be really great as a next question as we get closer to wrapping up here, could you speak to how your pre-sales experience has, helps make you, a better, leader within operations and within, data analysis.

[00:33:41] Pratik Patel: Totally. Absolutely. I think it's, fairly rare for an operations leader to have the sales experience that I have. and it's benefited me in a, few specific ways. So I would say for sure. when I first joined home, one of the things that was lacking was our ability to provide like clear insights into the engagement of the learning programs that we're delivering to these customers.

And that's really where I started to provide the sort of data analysis skillset. Doing the actual analysis itself was one thing. The second thing was my ability to then jump on a call with our prospects and our customers and deliver

that information and sell them on the value that it provides. That was a huge value add, a huge value add.

The folks that hired me did not expect that I was gonna be able to join these calls and actually help to close by providing that credibility and that that expertise. Right? And so that's one.

[00:34:34] Matt Madden: Awesome.

[00:34:35] Pratik Patel: Two is in the actual sales process itself, the way in which we were talking about, our platform. We have an assessment methodology that we use to determine the impact that we're having

around that.

the way we were talking about it, Matt, you may remember, it's kind of similar to early days at Central, whereas feature function, right? It's just a list, a laundry list

of things that, that, we do. And I was looking at the gong recordings of the sales calls, and you can just see the prospects disengage,

They were just looking at other things, looking at emails. They're like, okay, this is the bs. Portion of the call, right? I was able to help transform that stage of the sales cycle to focus on value, And so we spent

a lot less time on the nitty gritty of the platform. We don't even bring it up anymore.

It's really just about the pieces of value that it focuses on. So then we can move the conversation onto the more meat of, what needs to be discussed and in negotiated. so those are two tactics. And then at a higher level, To be honest, being a leader, of an operations team means that you are consistently dealing with a team that feels like they got the short end of the stick.

Because working in a startup, it's all about sales. It's all about hyper growth. It's all about supporting sales really. is at the end of the day what it comes down to. And as an operations team, they, especially when times are tough, they get stretched, work life balance, get I impacted. And they also don't feel like they're true owners of what's happening.

And so having that sales experience has enabled me to develop them to. Think about themselves as owners of the sales process rather than recipients of what was negotiated in the sales process. So providing that expertise of what's actually happening in the sales process, how we can provide value strangely, as a leader within operations, gives me a lot of credibility cuz it really.

Allows me to hone in on how crucial really supporting sales really is as an organization. So there's more there,

honestly,

but those are three that come to mind.

[00:36:47] Matt Madden: That's awesome. No, that's so helpful to hear. And just thinking about how as a leader, you being able to take that experience and empower the team to. just lean into how they're supporting and helping fuel the sales efforts, in a way that just gives them that sense of ownership and control, which is something that you did such a great job, when I was reporting into you as my team leader, of just kind of giving me that autonomy, giving me challenging projects that help me grow.

And, so I'm confident that, your, team is, is loving that as well. So that's amazing. And yeah, I think for those out there that are thinking about. If I go to pre-sales, what are my paths from there? If I start as a individual contributor, let's say I get my role, land as a sales engineer, solutions consultant, solutions engineer, whatever title, may fit the job.

Where do I go from there? And, you know, it's a bigger conversation that I think on one of my upcoming learning resource, lessons. I just wanna dive into those different paths and make very clear that it's not just, individual contributor to, a manager level role or director, VP and so on.

But really just clarify what that can look like. Cuz in your case, obviously from what you've shared with us today, you could. Have ambitions to maybe move into an operations role, or maybe you want to eventually move into a core engineering team But you start with the journey from, if you take critique's recommendation, which I think is an excellent one of, let's start in sales, maybe a pure sales role.

You understand that side of the house, then you could move to pre-sales, and then you've got this rich insight into, as Prite just described. What is a really core focus, the lifeblood of the business, especially in startup land, the sales function, and how does that come together and relate to those other areas that maybe you ultimately wanna work?

So I mean, just with that, is there anything you'd add just from that perspective? that's my kinda read on it that I want to just encourage people with.

[00:38:50] Pratik Patel: Totally. No, I totally agree. and I think that there's a few roles within technology companies that are really at the intersection of so many different departments that because of that, especially if you're early in your career, you could grow into any of those departments, right? And

so you're at the center of sales and product.

Because product needs feedback from the prospects on what they're building. Is it actually what they need? And so I've seen folks go from pre-sales to product and they end up being the bridge between the product team and the customer teams, the product teams, and the sales teams, making sure that they're collecting that feedback from the prospects and customers, enrolling that into the product roadmap to, to meet those needs.

So that's, that's a huge one you've already mentioned. another one related to that, which is engineering. A lot of sales engineers do have that technical skillset, so now they're able to be directly interfacing with customers and they can interface with the engineering teams. That's the other. Point of overlap is, is then going into engineering management, understanding the needs of the prospects and customers and, and really leveraging that to grow there.

Of course, you probably covered this in your other ones, but going back deeper into sales Absolutely. And sales management and understanding the technical sales. Since within technology sales, the technical win is such a crucible aspect of the sales funnel. and then, General leadership roles for post-sale implementations, for operations.

it's, as you've seen in, my career.

Taking that prospect and customer ready skillset, building upon it by getting deeper into the specifics of project management. being able to then work directly with the customers during the implementation, to handle any challenges that happen and really manage the customer through those challenges, is something that you build by building that, customer skillset.

While you're a sales engineer, so I'm not just saying that for this podcast. It, it really is the core of technology companies in so many ways, and because of that, especially if you're earlier in your career, you can branch out into a lot of different departments from there.

[00:41:00] Matt Madden: That's amazing.

as a final question, Pratik, I, this has been an amazing conversation. I just wanted to turn it to you and just say, is there anything I didn't ask you about or any ground we didn't cover that you think would be helpful for people to know just as a, a final point here?

[00:41:14] Pratik Patel: No, no, I, I think that's really it. I, I. Really, really treasure my experience in, in pre-sales. Honestly, I loved working with you, Matt. I, I hope that we're able to work together again. I

think the, the only thing to call out is for folks to check out home the, the company that I'm working at.

If you're working at a company, especially now with a macroeconomic situation that we're in, you wanna make sure that your managers are treating their people right. make sure that they have the right soft skills to do so.

[00:41:41] Matt Madden: Absolutely. Go check out, hon. That's another link I'll include in the show notes. So go learn what it's about. I'm excited about it. There are a lot of just great instructors from what I could see in the time I spent on the site, just with a breadth of leadership experience and so on. Varied backgrounds, a lot of diversity in the program from what I can see, which is incredible.

So, Yeah, excited for you, Pratik, and again, congratulations on just your journey since you've been with Hone. Uh, now as you know, VP of Operations and Business Intelligence and just look forward to staying in touch and thanks again for coming on the show.

[00:42:14] Pratik Patel: Likewise. Thanks so much, Matt. This is fun.


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