What is the key to turning the strongest sales leads into revenue-generating contracts? Independent research suggests a strong pre-sales operation drives huge value in this regard – but many organisations are struggling to get to grips with this part of the sales process. Enter PreSkale, a Californian start-up that is today announcing a $500,000 pre-seed funding round.
PreSkale aims to solve clients’ pre-sales problems, explains Ajay Jay, the company’s CEO, who founded the business with Prashanth Ganesh. “The goal is to ensure sales teams can get contracts signed – and signed more quickly – in order to accelerate revenue generation,” he says.
For the uninitiated, the term “pre-sales” refers to the part of a sales process between a potential client identifying your software product as a potential good fit for its needs and actually signing a contract to buy it. During this period, the client is typically trialling the product, working out which features it needs and how to customise it for its own business, and building a more granular understanding of the software.
It is hard work with no certainty of a pay-off – reaching the point of no return may be an extended process, and there is no guarantee that the client will decide to go ahead with the product.
Still, effective pre-sales teams reduce the odds of getting the deal over the line, and doing so quickly. Research from McKinsey suggests the most effective pre-sales teams deliver a five-point improvement in conversion rates, a 10-20% acceleration in moving prospects through the sales process, and an improvement of up to 13% in revenues. The consultant says companies with strong pre-sales capabilities consistently achieve win rates of 40-50% with new clients and 80-90% in renewals – significantly above the average.
The problem, explains Jay, is that pre-sales teams lack the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. They’re receiving multiple inputs – managing documents, meetings, product discussions, proof-of-concepts and other assets across many different tools – and constantly liasing with the client and their colleague business. “They do not have one single dashboard or playbook through which to manage this workload,” Jay says. As a result, the pre-sales process can be inefficient and unproductive; ultimately, that puts the final sale at risk.
Jay and Ganesh created PreSkale to address exactly this problem, which they’d seen in person in previous roles. “I felt like I’d found a loophole that needed to be closed,” says Jay of one former role where he simply did not have the capacity to deliver all the support that potential clients required.
PreSkale therefore offers a single platform through which businesses can manage their pre-sales activities, tracking customer interactions, product designs and iterations, and client requirements in a single location. “This will support any business that has a complex or collaborative product, where the end client is customising the software for their own needs,” says Jay. “The business will have a pre-sales process in place, but it will be disconnected and often ineffective.”
Ultimately, Jay sees PreSkale offering value in three different ways. The initial benefits will come from being able to manage the pre-sales process more efficiently and accurately, he believes. But in addition, the platform should enable managers to match the skills of their teams more closely to clients as their needs become clearer. And in the long run, as businesses start to build databases of how different types of client are using their software, they’ll be able to use PreSkale as a business intelligence tool, providing valuable insight for sales teams and software development engineers.
Having launched the business just last year, it’s early days for Jay and Ganesh in proving that value proposition, but the early signs are encouraging. PreSkale has already begun to onboard clients and the founding duo has quickly grown into a 12-strong team.
The business’s first funding round should enable it to accelerate both product development and sales. The $500,000 is coming from investors led by BoldCap, an accelerator fund that specialises in early-stage investment in software-as-a-service start-ups, with participation from PointOne Capital and a number of business angels.
“Pre-sales enable sales teams to sell better, and bring customer intelligence and product requirements back to product and engineering teams,” says BoldCap general partner Sathya Nellore Sampat. “They are important, yet massively underserved, and that’s what got us excited.”