Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 | 5 min read
I recently passed the 15-year mark in my career and wanted to write about the last 5 years in particular. In a very roundabout way, I’ve stumbled into what I believe is the best job in tech: that of a Presales Engineer (SE), Solutions Consultant (SC) at Sprinklr.
My intent is to share the meaningful parts of my journey, advocate for the SC role at Sprinklr to anyone interested, and to shamelessly request the input/advice of those willing to share it.
If you’ve gotten this far and are interested, below you’ll find my one big observation and one big fear with the presales role. Thanks for reading and please share any and all feedback you may have, I welcome it.
My big observation: “The job is simple, but not easy.”
“The job is simple, but not easy.” I’m not sure who I heard this from but want to make sure to put it in quotes so I don’t take credit for it. It’s the best distillation of the role that I’ve heard to date.
It really is simple. If a technology company employs you in a presales role, it is to generate revenue by driving increased purchases of software. It’s extremely tempting to get distracted by all of the variety that the job brings, but at the end of the day, you are tasked with selling more software. That’s it. The best SCs I’ve seen embrace and own this, everyone else struggles to remember it. I didn’t get comfortable with (or competent at) the job until I stopped being embarrassed by the word ‘Sales’ in my job title.
At the same time, the job is not easy. Companies don’t often flippantly purchase software. In the SC role, you must be able to understand, participate in, and at times carry a business conversation that has nothing to do with technology. Then, almost on the turn of a dime, you have to be technically credible with a separate audience and speak with authority on how to solve that particular company’s challenges and help them generate revenue.
Here at Sprinklr, I have the benefit of working as an SC across a host of different businesses and industries. The challenges and ambitions of each customer are unique, but the ability to have an impact on our customers’ objectives via the Sprinklr platform is what energizes me each day.
My big fear: “What Am I Missing?”
When I was 20 years old, I looked at my 15-year-old self as a bit of a fool. Then 25 year old me scoffed at the problems I had when I was 20 years old. A few years ago at age 35, I laughed at the difficulties I had a decade earlier. At the risk of turning this into my own therapy session, I’m fairly certain this dynamic will continue as time goes on.
This dynamic is my biggest fear in the presales role. One thing has proven true 100% of the time I’ve been in presales: I laugh (sometimes audibly) at what the previous SC version of me thought he knew. And it’s been that way each of the 5 years in this job.
I’m afraid of what happens when I stop getting help. My natural state is to think I can just wing it and that I’m good. Cue the narrator of my biography saying “He wasn’t.” The reality is that I discovered this job on accident, was not good at it when I started, and have had a ton of people invest in me. Today, I’m standing on the shoulders of giants and that’s an inescapable fact. What happens when I forget that? What happens when I don’t play defense against complacency? What am I missing that risks squandering the opportunity in front of me?
That all probably sounds more intense than it is, but it’s the best language I have. This job is great, up until the point you think you are great at it. The presales role is just about impossible to master but incredibly rewarding to try. The best ones I’ve seen make it look incredibly easy, but behind the scenes work incredibly hard at their craft.
Thankfully I’m surrounded by one of the most talented sets of teammates at Sprinklr. I’m inspired by watching those around me work. More importantly, we have a leadership team and company culture at Sprinklr that is committed to personal/professional development as well as accountability to a high standard. Growth is natural when you’re in a presales role, but it’s supercharged when you’re a part of a team committed to becoming elite.
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