The Difference Between Sales and Presales

The Difference Between Sales and Presales

Sales and presales, while both important, have major differences. Sales is primarily responsible for developing customer relationships, while in contrast, presales pertains to helping with the technological side of the sales process. Sales is concerned with the customer fit – ensuring a lead falls within your target audience and is likely to buy. Presales is concerned with the solution fit – ensuring your product is a good solution for the customer’s pain points.

While the two roles are distinct, they’re both equally as important and correlate with one another.

Understanding Presales

The B2B sales process is long, complicated, and often too intricate for a single salesperson to handle alone. A presales team can adopt a number of steps to allow the sales team to coordinate more time to focus on building a relationship with prospective customers.

In particular, presales engineers handle parts of the sales process that involve advanced technical knowledge. It’s their job to understand the product or service well enough to grasp precisely where it will fit into a customer’s tech stack and answer any technical features and implementation questions. A typical sales representative doesn’t necessarily have the specialized training for the same level of technical expertise that a presales engineer may have. Presales enables them to do their jobs more effectively and ensures they don’t inadvertently mislead customers about technological features they may not understand.

Presales Responsibilities

Companies can determine how to break down responsibilities between sales and presales based on their specific needs. Some universal aspects of work, which presales professionals typically take on, include a host of responsibilities. Presales encompasses sending discovery emails, setting up and/or joining discovery calls, hosting demos, providing proof of concept, drafting sales proposals, working on RFPs (requests for proposals), completing security questionnaires, helping with instance configuration and setup, and building documents for sales and other teams to support a seamless transition.

Presales may work alongside a sales representative on some of these tasks, and take on others independently. For the presales process to be most effective, teams need to create a clearly defined presales process that outlines their responsibilities and priorities. Once there is alignment on the tasks and ownership for each, the sales process becomes much more streamlined.

Enhancing Sales

A sales team is responsible for gaining a lead’s trust and convincing them that they are in trustworthy hands if they choose to use the suggested product. These teams are in charge of the process’ more persuasive and personality-driven parts. By speaking to the customer directly, sales representatives can put the customer’s needs at the forefront of the conversation. This allows them to, in-turn better explain the product/service and what ways it’s applicable to their needs. The technological aspect of presales, on the other hand, allows the sales team to effectively use more time to focus on their primary job: building relationships with prospects and convincing them to buy the product/service. The human aspect of sales is what helps drive ongoing relationships.

Sales Responsibilities

Generally, sales representatives have responsibilities including performing prospecting work to identify clients who are a good fit for the product or service based on factors like budget, size, and need. Sales reps often deploy negotiation tactics to prime prospects for a sale, closing deals, providing ongoing support to customers to keep them happy after purchase (and drive retention).

Each of these tasks and responsibilities are part of a larger body of duties held by individuals in a particular sales department. Furthermore, by taking on a portion of the sales process, presales ensures sales representatives have the time they need to successfully tackle each of these individual responsibilities and tasks in a step-by-step process.

Defining the Rules of Engagement

Collaboration between sales and presales is key to both teams accomplishing their goals. It is important to ensure that both teams understand when and how to work together. Defining clear rules of engagement in order to avoid any confusion between the two different team members and their particular responsibilities is a must.

Carefully plan through every step in the sales process. By creating clear guidelines for who should be involved in each step, along with instructions on when and how to bring others into the process to fulfill their roles, tasks can be broken down and easily distributed among team members. This breakdown will be based on the stage in the sales process a team is currently engaged in so there is clear accountability. Additionally, noting the type of customer involved, and/or specific types of sales tasks is another important aspect to note. If effectively organized, it should be clear to sales team members when they should be reaching out to presales to help and vice versa.

Clarity here ensures people are in charge of the tasks they’re best suited for. It also helps mitigate and avoid conflict that can arise when there’s confusion about a particular task. Both teams depend on each other for success. As such, a seamless system makes cooperation and effective collaboration essential.

Enabling Sales and Presales Collaboration

A strong, well-defined process is the best way to ensure sales and presales work together effectively. Additionally, choosing the correct technology can make collaboration between sales and presales teams easier.

With robust software solutions, sales and presales teams can work better together. Using a content library allows sales and presales teams to track common questions they receive from prospects, then easily save and access the best answer to each one. With internal communication features, natural handoffs between team members keeps customer requests top of mind and keeps them from falling through the cracks. This ensures that both the needs of the customer and the sales team are met in a timely manner. Using automation features, teams can cut down on hours of work spent on proposals and answering questions. By centralizing information and data, sales teams will be able to better service their customers up front and begin to take direct action in the forefront of conversation.

By understanding the differences between sales and presales and how they work in unison, businesses can better engage with customers in more meaningful ways that can move the needle in conversion. If a target audience is identified, your product or service can be better introduced to the prospect who would be more receptive to an ongoing relationship with your company. This helps ensure that both the needs of the customer and business are satisfied, and propels revenue generation.


  • Ganesh Shankar

    Ganesh Shankar is CEO of RFPIO, a developer of cloud-based software that automates and streamlines the process of responding to a request for proposal.

Get our newsletter and digital focus reports

Stay current on learning and development trends, best practices, research, new products and technologies, case studies and much more.