Presales activities in tech: the role of a business analyst

The article delves into the presales process in the tech industry and highlights the crucial role of a business analyst. It provides a list of activities to help attract potential clients and win contracts.

The author of this article is EPAM lead business analyst Kamya Jangbahadur.

The presales process

Presales is a phase during which a company makes significant attempts to win deals, acquire new customers, and retain existing ones. It employs various sales strategies to convert a prospect into an active billable customer. The performance and financial health of a corporation are significantly impacted by this stage.

A presales team works with multiple experts and delivery teams to present solutions focused on resolving customer problems.

Public or private businesses might ask IT software vendors to participate in bids in many ways. Businesses may post their RFP (Request for Proposal), RFI (Request for Information) or RFQ (Request for Quotation) on their websites. They may also send email invitations to IT vendors with the capacity to address the business’s challenges and pain points that are qualified to participate in the process due to their expertise in the relevant areas.

Notes to clarify the abbreviations mentioned above:

  • RFP (Request for Proposal) – a document that includes information about the client, its issues, the project's scope, business/technical needs, and legal criteria. The vendor must reply to the proposal in the specified style.
  • RFI (Request for Information) – a document that asks about a particular application or product. The vendor's comments should be based on previous experience with related products or applications.
  • RFQ (Request for Quotation) – a document that asks the vendor to provide information about the cost of products or services. Depending on the needed range of services, a variety of price alternatives may be offered so that the client can determine an approximation of its final cost.

Vendors are expected to make a video presentation or submit their qualifications through email or postal mail (common in the case of government contracts) within predetermined deadlines as a part of the submission procedure.

The presales process is crucial for helping clients choose wisely by comparing different vendors with similar offerings and capabilities. The clients develop a better understanding of how vendors’ product/service offerings and suggested solutions might benefit their company and address critical problems. Like a “try-before-you-buy” phase, presales gives clients the chance to speak with vendors and gain a thorough understanding of the products/services available to help them make an informed decision.

Presales activities for software providers

The list below includes presales activities that software vendors can use to showcase their software expertise and attract potential clients from various industries and locations:

  1. Conduct market research, competitor analysis, and understand the latest and emerging trends to support Proofs of Concept (POC). A POC is used to determine whether a concept or solution is workable. Today, most businesses offer a POC to a potential client to gain their trust and demonstrate that they are capable of handling challenging projects.
  2. Create marketing materials that can be annexed to RFP/RFI submissions and are accessible as marketing content on the vendor’s website.
  3. Participate in international conferences, trade shows, and seminars to network and collaborate with potential clients as speakers or sponsors.
  4. Collaborate with leading analysts like Gartner and Forrester to publish research papers and highlight the capabilities and offerings of specialized and value-added solutions.
  5. Reach out to prospects seeking comparable solutions via phone or email to schedule meetings.
  6. Give product presentations to highlight the value-add services and success stories.
  7. Distribute whitepapers and develop email campaigns that highlight unique offerings and success metrics from previously completed projects.
  8. Conduct webinars and write blogs to highlight the product/service benefits.
  9. Develop collaborations and alliances with other businesses to create integrated solutions, such as by providing RPA (Robotic Process Automation) solutions utilizing UiPath.

How can a business analyst contribute to the presales phase?

As a business analyst, you can actively work on various initiatives with the presales team to win the contract or proposal:

  1. Determine the customer’s AS-IS state/process by doing a gap analysis and a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) study.
  2. Leverage domain knowledge/expertise to better comprehend the difficulties and issues the customer is currently experiencing.
  3. Dive deeply into the client’s requirements and ask clarifying questions for a better understanding of the functional and non-functional requirements. Quick advice in here: connect with clients via calls to better grasp the scope of work.
  4. Offer suggestions for potential solutions and a TO-BE state that highlights the benefits and drawbacks of each proposed solution.
  5. Develop wireframes, prototypes, or business process flow diagrams to represent various suggested solutions to enable better visualization.
  6. When presenting solutions, include information on any assumptions, constraints, and risks.
  7. Deliver the in scope/feature list while clearly identifying any requests that are out of scope.
  8. Create case studies to highlight the value provided on projects with comparable or challenging issues in the same sector or product line.
  9. Conduct product demonstrations to emphasize features that are in line with what is needed to resolve client problems.
  10. Estimate efforts for the required BA work with the help of functional decomposition or expert judgment based on working on similar engagements.
Business Analyst in IT: what you need to know and do

Once the presales phase submission is closed, a vendor gets the contract, and the project moves on to the delivery phase.

The submission might also be ignored or rejected, occasionally with justification. The reasons could be anything from excessive costs, solutions that do not address the problem as stated, resource skills and availability, vendor recommendations, etc.

Contributing to presales projects as a business analyst is always fascinating since it offers exposure and insights into analyzing, identifying, and comprehending client concerns, business issues, and opportunities. We can use our expertise and experience to suggest changes and techniques to solve problems and offer quantitative advantages for the customer while assisting the business in winning deals and starting new engagements.

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