2022 SE Trends: Presentation Skills with Tony Francetic

Natalie Marcotullio
November 17, 2022

Tony Francetic is a Senior Manager of Solutions Consulting at Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading provider of news and information-based tools to professionals.

Tony is an expert in all things presales and focuses on improving communication, presentation skills, and sales skills. He’s also an ambassador for Presales Collective.

To start, give a high-level introduction of your background

Thank you for the warm welcome!

I’ve been with Thomson Reuters for almost ten years. I’ve worked in a few different divisions there, starting in support. Now, I’m in the solutions consulting world and am surprised by how applicable my journalism background is to this area of the business.

It’s this blend of asking the right questions and figuring out what’s important that really matters for presales.

What are some tips for SEs to level up their skills?

The more SEs can focus on the industry they’re supporting, and craft needs analysis-type questions around what’s important to the customer, the better demos go.

We’ve pushed that advice down to our sales team as well to help with their qualification stages, too. Understanding where the prospect is coming from and angling your presentation toward solving those problems is at the core of our strategy.

Of course, presentation skills matter as well. That’s a big part of my background as a trainer and my passion for communicating with people. The energy in your presentation needs to be there. You need to bring your best to your calls because that’s when you have to promote your company.

Now, you have to manage this as best you can. It’s hard to leave home at home and work at work. And it’s not for everyone. I call my team the “Island of Misfit Toys.” Everyone has a different, eclectic background, but they’re very collaborative and want to help customers.

I’ve hired a few teachers over the years, and they’ve been amazing – they are an untapped resource in our industry.

It’s been a personal mission of mine to move along the influence model. If I look back four to five years ago, my team was known for doing demos – in a subservient way.

This year, I’m seeing SCs recognized as an influencer in the business. To really excel, solutions consultants need to be skilled marketers; their messaging needs to be consistent.

They also need to know product roadmaps for long-term vision and value-setting. They need to know about trends in certain industries. And they need presentation skills and sales acumen.

Most companies are taking for granted all the talent solutions consultants have and the insights they gain from prospects. A lot of that data could play a role in messaging and campaign development. It could also influence new feature development as well as packaging and pricing.

Presales teams will know what prospects like about your solution and what they don’t like about your competitors. And now I’m seeing more attention being given to SCs as an influencer, not just as a component of sales.

Harbor tours. That’s probably the standard answer.

But really, it’s a disservice to the customer. If you think about the customer journey, they might start through a BDR or downloaded a whitepaper. Then they’ll have a few touchpoints with a salesperson. By the time they talk to an SC, they’re in the third or fourth iteration of learning and hearing about the product.

And sadly, the same questions come up again in postsales conversations. It’s frustrating for the customer to repeat themselves.

I’d love to see this dynamic change. It shouldn’t be a siloed approach, it should be one unified customer experience – from marketing to sales, to implementation, and beyond.

What are some of your favorite resources or tooling for SEs?

I’m partial to the Presales Collective, but there are so many groups out there to help presales folks around the globe.

It’s so cool to see the way people in this industry support one another. I’ve reached out to other presales executives on LinkedIn to ask them a question, and all of them have been willing to sit down and talk. Usually, that upper-echelon of business doesn’t act that way.

I had a support background and was thrust into my SC position. I was following salespeople around, but I really learned the most from reaching out to others and following their advice. So I encourage SCs to find mentors and people to connect with.

John Care and Peter Cohan are authors of fantastic presales books that have been around a long time. And there are new folks like Patrick Pissang publishing books on more modern presales strategies like branding yourself on social media.

Chris White wrote the 6 Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers. There are so many resources to lean on.

Tell us more about Thomson Reuters

My company has a lot of different divisions, so there are always new opportunities. And where there’s an opportunity to connect with people on presales, I’d love to have conversations. Find me on LinkedIn, and feel free to ask me questions.

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