The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 3 months ago

Ep 257: The Pre-Sales Engineering Playbook w/ Paul Vidal


The Pre-Sales Engineering Playbook w/ Paul Vidal

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Pavilion Podcast. I'm your host, Brandon Barton. You're listening to Is This a Good Time? The show? I put Pavilion members on the hot seat for fifteen minutes we hear their incredible stories. Shows are out on Monday's hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from our experts. And today we have an expert of customer success and sales engineering. It's Paul Vidal, the VP of Customer Success that repris. We talked about the Optimal pre Seals Engineering playbook. This month. Sponsor is six cents, the leading platform for B two B organizations generating predictable revenue. Two years ago, six cents wrote the playbook for modern B two B sales and marketing. In the book, no forms, no spam, no cult calls. I've read it. It's great. Thousands of practitioners have implemented the book, and now an updated version is out. The expanded second edition includes a new chapter just for sales leaders and even more. Visit six cents dot com slash the book to order your copy today. All right, let's do this episode one. Is this a good time? All right? Everyone, I'm super excited to have our next guest with us. It's Paul Vadali is the VP of Customer Success at Reprise. Paul, so glad to have a wonderful guest Frenchman like yourself on the pond. That's something that I hear very seldom. Why this is this is the heart of food and wine in the universe. But maybe people don't realize this. I don't know about that. Great to have you, Paul. All Mino follows, get right to the questions. All right, tell us a little bit about what you do today, what what Reprise does. And then of course let's let's start going back in the resume and and tell us kind of where your origin story is. Yeah, so I leave customer success here at Reprise, which includes priests, field engineering for print, post sales engineers, support and customer success. Right, so they say, um, and what we do is we are a demoed...

...the demo creation platform, the first of its kind UM, and we allow software sellers to create them all very easily and share them with their prospect which is something that I'm very familiar with. Is we're going to talk about I love it and and so give us a little bit of a history before this. You you actually had a couple other roles at a price as well, which it's interesting to me that you're you started as a VP of sales. Maybe this is what you're alluding to. Yeah, so I mean, like, look, here's the only I started my career doing demos and being a pre sales engineer when they didn't call it pre sales engineer, Like back in the day, we had like this one demo on this old laptop and we hoped they worked. And I was a technical expert in my domain, and that's what I was doing. And I've been basically doing demos my entire career, whether it's leading pre sales organization or being individual contribute to myself. And when I stumbled upon this technology, I was like, this is First of all, this is cheating and I don't want to be part of it. Second, what didn't think about it? And third can I please join? That was the whole thing. So I was super excited, and I figured there was an open position in the sales department, and I figured I can try sales. Right, Okay, I'm not good at sales, Like it was super interesting now actually I'm not that bad, but it was super interesting, and especially moving from like being really customer first, which is what I've always been because when I was even when I was in a C, I was working with account manager on very large accounts, right, so I was it was always customer first. Um, and being able to be prospecting and talking to customers that haven't bought yet from and wearing a hat that is a sales VP of sales had super difficult. Motionally, it was very difficult for me. So eventually we you know, there was some opening in field engineering and customer success and this is where is it amount of expertise, And so... I get the chance to do it, am I gent on it? And and and tell me about you know, for you what is the magic of a prise like for for those that have never used a product or you've never seen, you know, a demo or anything like that, tell us about go deeper into because I think it's really interesting, you know, the ability to kind of spin up custom demos um, you know, but but go through it. Yeah. So I mean, look, the way that we demo today is highly reliant on artists. You have a lot of very you need to have very talented people that follow protocols like demo, t ween and things like this, Like there's a lot of practice around what to do, how to do a great demo. But the product underlying that we're using, it's not a product that is designed to be demonstrate. It is designed to solve a specific problem. And so what we have to do is we have to shoot horn a narrative into a product is designed to solve a different problem, right, and so we try many ways to change this. We try to you have themo engineering organization that will spin things up and down. That's case kind of what I was working on when I was a principle sence an engineer for a for Clara, which is a big data data company. So you can imagine the things that we had to do in order to set up an environment. We're talking about you know, two weeks cluster, fifty bytes of data and basically you know, millions of dollars year just on cloud infrastructure. So that was the first thing that attracted to me. And then the other part is that we realized as well, is that the buyer is changing, and we try to solve this by saying like, well, we don't need to do with them, we just need to keep give people the product that works if you're like Slack maybe or things that are like very very easy to use at first glance. Um, but that doesn't work when again,...

...if you Clara, and when you tell them like it's easy, just go loads fifty bues of data. It's fine, it's gonna take you six months, don't worry about it, right, do this configure that doesn't work? Right? Right? But this free trial doesn't work. So it's a combination of like, you have people that want to buy software that are people like you and me that learned how to buy software by buying an app on their phone, and they don't want to talk to anyone, and the fact that the demos that we're building us so are so reliant on people and not reliable dedicated demo environment that makes repree sorts. That makes repre so exciting to me because we were trying to do exactly this, and we were trying to do like putting our product in front of our as many customers as possible. But we had like eight engineers working on it, and in literally a day, I was able to do all this work. And I was like, this is again cheating. Wow, that's incredible and so, um know, in in in the crafting of your career, you know obviously took you took this step in the sales, said hey, this isn't for me. I mean, you've also done a lot of different things. I wonder if there's any stories of kind of you know, uh luck or or or or good fortune that has gotten you to where you are today. Well, I mean everything is locked right, but I think that the thing that is different for me is um So, I took the decision very early in my career that I would optimize my career for what's fun for me. Huh. So very earlier I was keeping an eye to the ground and as soon as they didn't like sounds like something it wasn't really fun. I just tried like finding something different. So I started, and it's gonna very very quick, but I'm gonna brow you through my career. I started as a consultant, I think accentually like I was like twenty three, because I really early and I was...

...telling people that had you know, thirty years experience through a couple of beautiful powercorns side that you have no idea what you guys are doing. You should listen to me. I'm twenty three and after six months of this and I'm like, this is disingenuering. I don't want to do this. So I tried to get my hands dirtier a little bit more. And I have a background in computer science, so uh, and I wanted to also to travel the world. It was at the time where emotionally I had to travel the world. And like, I grew up in a very small village, so for me, seeing something else was important. So I worked for this company. UM that made me travel across the globe for seven night years. UM, I had too many stemp on my passport, that's how much I was traveling, right on the passports. So it was awesome. Like I learned a ton about different culture, which I think is important. As much as American can be a bit patriotic, I think the French are pretty good in in very very specivilistic as well. So it was it was important for me, was my opening, and I recommended to everyone. And after a while, you know, I'm like, okay, you know, leaving three months at a time to go to Nigeria. It's just fine for a bit, but let's trying to find something else. And I was also getting to the to the point where, um, hey I want to try it looks like to be in the startup and building an organization worked well. And then you know, we had some It was a weird tradictory. Eventually I didn't have enough levels of freedom for me to make decisions. Uh, And and I was like, maybe startup it's not for me. So I tried to find the most complex stack of soft side I can find, and I'm like, big data, open source. I have no idea how this works. It's getting through this right, but I always get near to the ground and like my role I father, I was awesome. I was not planning on living. Uh. But then I saw this Stackum, like this is this is just too good. This is like I can't not try to join this.

But yeah, that's the story. I mean, like, look, you were working a huge amount of of our time. We spending a huge amount of our time working. You're not having Like I'm not saying that I've never worked a day in my life. That's just like in realistic of course, work is going to be working these days. That's gonna suck, right, But if at least you you try to optimize for someone on the fun. Then this is a good way for me to cope with. Yeah, what we have to do, right, I love that. I love that, and and and so I want to get into some of the sales and marketing tactics. I really want to ask you, look from a pre sales engineering perspective, you're an expert. Give us a playbook. Give us the playbook on how people should be you know, take reprise out of it for a second, but just how should people be preparing to go into the first time that they're showing off a product to a customer? What what what are the what are the things that people are forgetting to do? Yeah, that's that's a it's a good question. So first of all, and this is going to be a hot tach is, I don't think an se Preseals engineer should be on the first LEMO period. We are doing it because we're afraid of our product breaking. That's basically it. Because it require there's there's a barrier of entry that that that is there. But what we what the customer needs is really pure value demos. This is how it's going to be valuable to you, right, like like like a very specific use case for that customer and guests. Who is the most trend at understanding business value based on use case? Those are aids, right. So my my take is, first that shouldn't be on the first lemos should come after an after a certain level of education. Now that education doesn't have to be done on the sales goal. It can be done by self consumption from our customers. But the s the way that they work, they should be just the last part of the...

Thing's just not knocking the ball over the park. That's what we should be doing. Right. The playbook is, in my opinion, is shift the burden of demo to the left. Huh. And that's what I am doing in my organization. By the way, my ass only come in in when they when people are looking for them off for something very specific or when they want to get into a trial or evaluation or POC. That's when they come in, and that's where they're the most efficient. Interesting and and it's so so many problems as his hate being on the first demover the of course they don't know they're qualified or not. What we like to do is, you know, so very specific problems that we didn't think of before. That's what gets pre sales people going right. Interesting, you know, I think the counter that would be if you start losing a lot of those first those first meetings, don't start converting into second meetings. You're trying to throw some or to the aes, right, and then maybe you would say, hey, like they need to be more educated on the product to be able to get them to the point where they're actually asking the right questions about the technical buying, you know, the process so to speak. Right, Yeah, I mean, look again, I sawd super complex pro product products. So when somebody comes in and say, well, like, you know, do you support acid on on hdfs or something like this, It's going to be very difficult for REP to to respond right, Um, but again we're talking about um first first calls. Yeah, there is a way and again this is was something that wasn't possible, which is why I'm so excited to be able, Prince is we there is a way now that people can self educate and that REP skin self educated as well, which is getting access to the product and getting into a first understanding and guess what, like the it's very unlikely... that your prospect hasn't done any research at all on what you guys are doing before getting on the first of course they're doing something. Yeah, I mean it's it's just like I'm only responding to inbound posts for things that was already thinking of buying anyway, right, I mean, which is, you know whatever, why I'm targeting. So I mean like again that there is a way to give assets that should be able to self indicate. And by the way, the the the role even when I'm buying, like recently, we um, we both the integration tool know what I what I want, And I said, like, this are the questions that that I'm going to ask um, and then you can decide whether or not it's worth it's high level enough. But I also expect that if I'm talking to an A they don't have all the answers. That's totally fine, right, So I don't know, like, and the flip side of this is that there is a look, I love my my fellow easis, but we're div us. That's who we are like and and here's why. And this is something that I recently understood because I joined I was get yourself for a while. When you are in pre sales engineering, in presales engineering, when you get into a call you're basically god. People come in and say like, oh, finally the person that knows all the things right exactly. And imagine that you spend your whole career and everybody tells you you're the best. Look at all the memes that is about pre sales engineering. It's all about I'm doing everything. The reps is not doing anything, and you get all the praise from all the customers because you never have the heart conversation. The flip side of this, I mean the hard commercial negotiations. The first time of this is if you're a rep, as soon as you get into a room, everybody hates you. That's I know because I felt it. That's why he's artibus rights.

Because you you everybody keeps telling them that they're amazing, which they are, don't get me wrong. But the problem that I have as a pre sales leader, for instance, is how do you retain these people Like there's so many offers, There's so many things out there right right, and I tell you, you make them do things that they don't hate sure, and and and have passionate about the product in the first place. Rightly, you gotta know it and love it. And then the other side is also Look, I realized that my department, except for the CSM side is it is it cost sent everything that I'm adding, I'm adding to the cost of acquisition. Um. So no, my CFO is not excited when I'm like, hey, I need another s C to support the cell. So there's a there's a business side of it that would want you to be more efficient with the utilization of USC resources. Yeah, interesting, are you hiring? You have any positions open? We have some positions open, not in my department at the moment, although we're getting as you know, we're getting up for next year, so something will open at that point. Um. But there there are a lot of position open on my website. Yeah, okay, Well we'll have people check out all right, and it gives some shout outs who who who do you like to follow on these subjects and kind of appreciate what they're putting out. There's a lot of great community out there on the presales side. Um. You know, Press Collective is people that we work with the pavilion as well. We obviously work together on a bunch of different things. I did a couple of class on demos. Um. If you haven't checked demo to win. It's a it's a great program for UM for your ease and SCS. These are the people that I kind of follow. Cool, love it man, and uh, last but not least, very important to me as a restaurant person. You're down at Philly. You don't have to give me someplace in Philly, though, you can give us the... that we should go check out me. So Amano is a BYL b um in Philly that is insane. The it's a it's an Italian restaurant, um, but it's you know next you know this, this this next level. Like the thing is, I don't want to pay the sound dollars for a Golden Waves tax and not really into this right right, I mean to like good food with simple ingredients, um, and this one just takes for so I would recommend it. Definitely go check it out. I love it, man, love it well. Paul, dude's so great to have you on. I love I could hear the passion you have for the whole you know, sales engineering experience. It's it's really cool and uh looking forward to seeing Raprise continue to grow. Man. Yeah, well thanks for having me. I'm always as you can see you stop talking about it. Love it man? Yeah, alright, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, breaking review in the Apple podcast or Spotify apps, sent it to friends and and smash I subscribe button. This episode was brought to you by six cents, powered by AI and predictive analytics. Six cents helps you unite your entire revenue team with a shared set of data to achieve predictable revenue growth. I had so much fun today. I hope you did too. Now get out and crush y'all numbers.

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