5 Things I Learned Switching From Post-Sales to Pre-Sales

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Post-Sales to Pre-Sales

Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.  While you may just see it as an iconic lyric in today’s pop culture, it can actually apply to wide range of company related initiatives. One of which I will be talking about today: moving positions within a company. More specifically, from Post-Sales (Success and Support) to Pre-Sales (The Sales Team).

A bit of background for you about this situation: Uberflip is an amazing company that focuses on the growth of its employees, whether it is through learning credits, employee advancement and career path, or even the snacks we have in the office. I have been with Uberflip for 3 years now, and each year has proven to be more fun than the last.  

However, about 2 years in I grew restless. Being a millennial I felt like I needed a change and a new challenge. Feeling as if I had conquered onboarding and success, I wanted to attempt a new role – a role that did not exist here – Sales Engineer.

After much deliberation and some help from my amazing bosses (thank you, Jay and Sam), the change happened November 1st, 2016.  At that moment I felt like I had created something that had benefit to everyone within the company and something that I could excel at.  

Over the past quarter and a half, I have learned a few things that I want to share with all growing startup companies that may be looking to create new roles. These are 5 things that I learned moving from Post-Sales to Pre-Sales:

1. Have a Transition Plan

When the move was happening, we had a rough idea of what we needed to do. I needed to alert all my customers who I worked with that I was moving and make the intro to the new Success Coach. I needed to transfer my knowledge to my padawan learner (who is absolutely a Jedi Knight now). I needed to make sure that I had written down as much as possible about what I have learned.

Even just reading the above, it makes you tired. I was so stoked to be on the Sales team so in the chaos of the transition I may have forgotten about a few action items, and once I moved, it was kind of left by the wayside.

The transition plan is the most important aspect of an intercompany movement. Without it, you will ultimately leave some people feeling overwhelmed or underprepared for what lies ahead.  Without a solid executable plan, change may come in swiftly and since we know that change can scare a lot of people, we need to make it as easy as possible for everyone involved.

2. Collaborate (With BOTH teams)

This falls a bit into the transition plan and this collaboration hits on both sides of the coin –  Success and Sales. Let’s start with Success and why you need to collaborate with each other during the move.

When you are on a team that focuses on relationship building and building meaningful experiences, you may not realize that every relationship needs to be transferred. One thing I can fully admit to dropping the ball on was the full transition of moving my meaningful relationships to the new Coach in charge of the account.

This can happen for a few reasons such as you really like that person, they continue to message you with problems, or even the fact that the client refuses to work with someone else. No matter the case, you need to make sure that the relationship is moved over to a dedicated member of the team!

On to Sales. When I got to the team, I literally came in like a wrecking ball. I was on every call, I was moving and shaking thinking I was progressing every deal, and thought, “how did they ever do this before me?”  This attitude is not right and I needed to collaborate better with my teammates as they had specific goals they needed to achieve. This is somewhat of a live-and-learn situation. Prior to joining the team, I had no idea what an AE needed to do in a call, I just knew I needed to talk about tech!

When you don’t have good collaboration between your departure and arrival teams, you will end up in the middle of a situation that could have been avoided with more communication!

3. KPI + Goals + Team = SUCCESS (or Sales)

Everyone wants to rule the world. Or in this case, a team. However, by placing such a goal on a team is an unrealistic expectation. The purpose of this is to set realistic KPIs for your new role within a new team.

In my Post-Sales role, I had a series of KPIs that always had a direct impact on our bottom line as well as our customers’ happiness. I knew what I came in to do every day and the extra items I did were above and beyond what I was measured on. I knew what I had to do day in and day out.

When I transitioned to a new team, for the first quarter, I had no KPI. I had nothing that I benchmarked for myself. This could have been because it was a new role and because we were testing things out. However, what I realized is that I love to be measured!

The biggest hurdle for me is that I no longer worked in an independent role. I was part of a team with a team goal and the whole purpose of this was to see how I could help that goal.  Now in my second quarter, I have a set of KPIs and, albeit, some are individual – such as writing blog posts, training material creation, etc. – my main goal is to support the sales team to achieve things for a greater good. This learning was huge for me. I cannot focus on being an individual contributor, but rather a person who provides value to an entire team for a single goal.

By understanding what and where you need to be measured, it will make sure you have everything you need to achieve those goals in the larger organization.

4. What Works in One Department May Not Work in Another

One thing that has become evident in my 4th month as a Sales Engineer is that what works in one department may not work in another. I come from a place that when you get someone on the phone, you build that relationship from the start! I am a huge believer in Human-to-Human selling. When you know who I am, you will feel like you can trust me.

When I moved to Sales, it was a tough transition because I needed to make a change to the way I build relationships and how to get people to think of me as more than just a voice on the other end of the phone.

I created an opening message that usually leaves the crowd thunderstruck in the way it’s delivered. Something fun yet informational, serious yet jovial. Understanding that I have about 2 minutes to make them like me and another 25 minutes to get my point across.

When you move teams, you need to be adaptive to the approach you take with clients, prospects, and customers. This is crucial to the success in your new role.  

5. Less Tech: More Sales (Positioning)

Coming from Post-Sales, I was very technically minded. I loved helping marketers figure out the ways to leverage our platform and really crush their lead generation goals. This usually took the ideas of a marketer and used our technology to achieve these goals.

This worked wonders in Success! Everyone was happy and loving the detailed technical aspect of our platform. It was helping them achieve these goals and using our platform to its fullest.

The biggest change for me was when I came to Sales, the people I speak with have not seen the success of the platform yet. This meant I needed to be less technical while still showcasing what we could do plus be more sales driven.  

I needed to start asking more probing questions for my AEs to use in later conversations. The positioning of the platform really changed for me; I usually talked about “how to” and now I needed to explain “why” this is important. The stories you tell in any part of the buyer’s journey are important; however, the morals need to change in those stories to be a lot less about the how and more about the why.

Now it’s closing time. Time for you to go out to the places you came from and implement these types of changes if, or when, you move within your company. This can also be used when you move to a new role at a new company. Know that you need to collaborate with team members to understand their goals. Have a transition plan in place, especially when you move internally. Set your KPIs + Team goals and understand that what works in one area may not work in another. Finally, understand your positioning and where you provide the most value. This will make your next move infinitely easier and more productive.

If you would like to learn more about my transition, or even want to chat about how it happened and what I do, never hesitate to reach out to me via email or in our comments below. I would love to hear what you think about transition plans and the best way to achieve harmony amongst teams.

PS: Here is the YouTube Playlist of all the songs mentioned in this article. Bonus points if you noticed 😉

If you too have made the switch to sales recently, learn how content can help you close the deal in our eBook, Content Is For Closers.


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