People know me as a marketer. Many do not know that I started my career as a pre-sales engineer. Back then, in 2006-07, I was doing technical closure for Zoho’s ServiceDesk Plus. One of my responsibilities, post a sale, was to train the customer’s team on how to use the product and implement it for various environments. In a short span of around 2 years, I did around 150 implementations across the globe. 

This was a great job, especially for a youngster just out of college. I could live in a different office, and learn and understand how they work. It was like having a free pass - to work in a new organization every other week.

It was a fun ride. But over a period of time all the travel can get to you, it can be lonely. I wanted a change and took up product marketing and that’s how I became a marketer. But that’s a story for another time.

Here, I want to tell you about Jason from Urban Outfitters. Back in 2008, I implemented ServiceDesk Plus for the clothing major. The company had a cool office in a decommissioned U.S. Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia. I could see ships from their office. I remember being surprised and impressed - this was just my second trip to the USA. The company started using the product for one department and eventually scaled it up to their entire global operations, from about 8 techs to over 100. 

Urban Outfitters' Jason in their Philadelphia office

However, soon after the Urban Outfitters implementation I moved to product marketing. But Jason didn’t know this. Each time new techs needed to be added or he needed an upgrade or if he had any questions, he would reach out to me. I too would respond, coordinate with sales when required, get him the answers and the upgrades he needed. This went on for almost seven years, even when I headed ITSM Marketing. 

It was only when I quit Zoho and he reached out for yet another upgrade, did I inform him and hand his account over to another person.  

This is what pre-sales is for me. It is not just about the product. Of course, product matters, but relationships matter as much, if not more. It is about building relationships that last for years, about ensuring customers feel taken care of, no matter what. What I learnt then, and it is a trait I will take proudly to the end of my days, is the ability to nurture relationships. 

Btw, Jason is still a Zoho customer.