Pre-sales: The Role of a Solutions Architect

Pre-sales: The Role of a Solutions Architect

A well-structured pre-sales process is the backbone of a robust sales pipeline, ensuring the right resources are allocated efficiently and effectively. As a seasoned Solutions Architect, optimization is my guiding principle, and I believe it resonates with many in the field. While the spotlight often shines on sales for sealing deals, the pre-sales process is equally critical to the success of each opportunity and the sales organization as a whole. Pre-sales is about comprehending the prospect’s specific business needs and aligning them with the organization’s offerings.

In this article, we delve into enhancing the technical aspect of the pre-sales cycle from a Solutions Architect’s viewpoint. We will explore how to navigate the complexities of translating business requirements into technical solutions, managing stakeholder expectations, addressing technical complexities, ensuring security, and planning for scalability and future growth.

Understanding Pre-Sales: The Role of a Solutions Architect

Selling technological products or services to potential clients requires a significant amount of consultation to ensure that the proposed solutions align with the client’s business needs. While sales teams can identify these needs, their understanding often only scratches the surface and fails to address critical business issues. This is where the role of pre-sales becomes crucial.

The pre-sales team provides essential support to the sales team, helping to shorten the sales cycle. By understanding the client’s specific business requirements, pre-sales can map these needs to the organization’s offerings, thereby streamlining the overall sales cycle.

It’s important to note that the functions, roles, and responsibilities of the pre-sales team can vary depending on the organization. To fully understand the function of pre-sales, it’s necessary to first comprehend the sales cycle. Here’s an example of a typical sales cycle:
  • Lead Generation
  • Lead Qualification
  • Sales Pitch/Value Proposition
  • Proposal/Statement of Work (SoW)
  • Negotiation and Review
  • Closure – Won
  • Closure – Lost
  • Closure – Dropped
Remember, the sales cycle can differ from one organization to another and from one product to another.

The Role of a Solutions Architect in Pre-Sales: A Comprehensive Analysis

In this section, we delve deeper into the role of a Solutions Architect in the pre-sales process. We will provide a detailed exploration of their responsibilities and the strategies they employ for success.

The Sales Cycle in the IT Services Sector

The sales cycle we present here is specific to the IT services sector. At each stage of this cycle, the pre-sales team plays a crucial role. Let’s examine the support provided by pre-sales consultants throughout the sales cycle.
  1. Lead Generation: During the lead generation phase, the pre-sales team conducts desktop research to understand potential sectors and identify prospects who may require the organization’s products or services.
  2. Lead Qualification: Pre-sales consultants, in collaboration with the sales team, actively participate in lead qualification. Here, they validate the client’s business requirements and map them to the organization’s offerings.
  3. Sales Pitch/Demonstration: If the client’s critical business objectives can be addressed by the company’s offerings, the pre-sales consultant will develop a sales pitch or demonstration tailored to the business requirements identified during the qualification stage.
  4. Proposal Development: Following the sales pitch or demo, the pre-sales consultant crafts a proposal document based on the prospect’s interest in the organization’s offerings. This proposal typically consists of two parts:
    1. Technical Proposal
    2. Commercial/Financial Proposal
  5. Negotiation: Since a pre-sales consultant has a deep understanding of the client’s business requirements, they are well-positioned to lead the negotiation process. They can map the requirements back to the effort estimations and value additions provided by the organization, comparing them to those of the nearest competitor.

Key Responsibilities of the Pre-Sales Function

To conclude, the pre-sales function has several key responsibilities:
  • Providing the technical expertise needed to increase win ratios and shorten sales cycles.
  • Collaborating with the Sales Manager to bring the necessary technical expertise to the sales cycle.
  • Leading the discovery process, conducting business process analysis, and performing gap analysis.
  • Configuring or architecting the optimal solution that perfectly fits the customer’s requirements.
  • Demonstrating prototypes of the solutions, emphasizing the business and competitive value of the solution.
  • Following up on business processes.
  • Staying up-to-date on technology trends in the customer’s industry vertical.

Pre-Sales, What’s that ?

While I am a Solutions Architect operating in the pre-sales domain, rather than a sales expert, it’s crucial to establish a basic understanding of pre-sales to comprehend the discussions that follow. 

In a nutshell, the pre-sales process encompasses all activities that occur prior to finalizing a sale. These activities include:
  • Prospecting and qualifying leads
  • Conducting product and market research
  • Analyzing data and customer behavior
  • Preparing call scripts and workflows
  • Identifying solutions to customer pain points
  • Crafting a unique selling proposition
  • Managing deal qualification and proposals
As a Solutions Architect, you’ll likely be part of a team where these tasks are handled by highly skilled colleagues. If that’s not the case, brace yourself for an exciting journey!

The Role of a Solutions Architect in Pre-Sales

A recent study from the Harvard Business Review revealed that companies with robust pre-sales capabilities consistently achieve win rates of 40-50% in new business and 80-90% in renewal business. This is a challenging yet rewarding aspect of pre-sales that fuels my passion. The opportunity to contribute to my company’s market conquest is truly exhilarating.

A master Solutions Architect plays a crucial role in enhancing win ratios and shortening sales cycles by providing the necessary technical expertise. Depending on the prospect, Solution Architects with strong soft skills can lead the discovery process while conducting business process and gap analysis.

However, it’s important to remember that a Solutions Architect is fundamentally an IT role. In addition to sales skills, you’ll need to architect and configure the optimal solution that meets your customer’s requirements and demonstrate why the proposed solution is competitive and fulfills those requirements.

The Skills of a Pre-Sales Solutions Architect

Being close to the customer means that you’ll need to stay abreast of technology trends in the customer’s industry vertical.

Note that any proposal is typically presented in two parts: a technical part and a commercial/financial part. As an IT professional, you’ll always have a significant role to play here.

Figure 1: The Skillset of a Pre-Sales Solutions Architect (source: MarketingMoves)

The Power of Workflows in Pre-Sales: A Solutions Architect’s Perspective

As a Solutions Architect, you’re well aware that a business process consists of a series of steps, arranged in a specific sequence, to achieve a desired result. You also understand that without a clear process, a business process implementation is bound to fail.

Given your role as an architect, you’re naturally inclined to organize and represent any process in a workflow or diagram. This not only allows you to leverage the countless hours you’ve spent studying frameworks like TOGAF or BPM, but it also empowers you to grasp the entire landscape. Trust me, if you aim to comprehend your (potential) customer’s needs and objectives and propose a solution that meets them, this is a must.

The Benefits of Using Workflows in Pre-Sales

Utilizing workflows during a pre-sales exploratory call offers numerous benefits beyond the obvious. Here are a few:
  • Gathering information about the prospect/client
  • Structuring the pre-sales discussion
  • Preparing for the initial moments of a pre-sales discussion
  • Anticipating the prospect/client’s objections
  • Ensuring you have the necessary tools
In essence, workflows facilitate in-depth discussions with business and technical teams, helping us devise the solution that the customer requires. They are also incredibly useful for onboarding new team members.


Effective planning and anticipation are key to a successful pre-sales discussion, and a robust pre-sales process can aid in selling to customers in the manner they prefer. Therefore, whenever possible (which should be always 😉), use workflows to prepare for your pre-sales meetings and during them. 

If you have read this far stay tuned for my next article on "How to build a winning pre-sales process"
Ajmal Muhammad 可汗
Ajmal Muhammad 可汗 I am Open-Source Advocate, Cloud Consultant, I have experience in Digital Transformation, Security, Data Analytics, ML/AI, PMO, Product Managment focused on Growth Strategies and enhanced customer experience and Experience design. I’m passionate about creating usable digital products. I have worked with incredibly talented people across different companies. Skilled in Entrepreneurship, Startup, Open Source, Digital Transformation, Cloud, Security, Data Analytics, AI/ML Consulting, Investment Valuation, Seed Capital, Board of Directors and Advisory. Strong business growth professional with a Postgraduate Diploma focused on International Business from University of Cambridge. |► Connect with me on | linkedin