Discover what Pre-Sales is all about with Élodie Martin, Pre-Sales Engineer at ActiveViam.
Hello, Élodie. Please could you introduce yourself?
I am an Engineer in the Pre-Sales team and work mainly in the retail sector. My role is to support our salespeople in responding to technical questions and capture potential clients’ business needs on our platform. I do this by creating Proofs of Concepts (PoC) which are customized prototypes of our software. I studied at CentraleSupélec (Centrale Paris course), where I participated to the first edition of the Digital Tech Year (DTY) program, followed by a computer science course for my last year of specialization. During my gap year, I completed my first internship at an IT services company. I was then lucky enough to work on three prototype projects for three very different sectors (insurance, consultancy and horse race betting) during the DTY. After that, I spent six months in New York working for a start-up on a blind test application used by millions of users every day. It was a great experience!
How did you end up working at ActiveViam?
After returning to France, I went to the CentraleSupélec Forum where I met Benjamin who had already been working for ActiveViam for some time and whose interview you would have read. He told me about this position which was exactly what I was looking for, as it had Tech and Business aspects along with the promise of frequently having different clients and projects. This is something that other companies had not offered me so I went for it and started in April 2017.
What were your first few months at ActiveViam like?
Really good! I immediately got involved in the sales team by getting stuck into my first internal project where I had to come up with a solution. The aim was to use our own technology to manage our commercial pipeline. It was actually rewarding because I worked hand-in-hand on a practical case with a highly experienced member of the team. My internal client, who happened to be one of the founders of the company, guided me throughout the project and, more broadly, in my approach to our product. After just a month and a half, I had the chance to work on a PoC for a leading company, and I even had the privilege of presenting the outcome of this project to its Supply Chain executive committee. Our sales director at the time trusted me very quickly and offered me the opportunity to attend client meetings, sometimes just with one member of the sales team. I was quite proud that I had contributed directly to the signing of contracts with two major retailers during my first year, Leroy Merlin and Monoprix.
What exactly does a Pre-Sales role entail?
You must be able to multitask and have an interest in the technical side – as the core of the business consists of coding projects – and in business affairs. We are in close contact with our clients, so we must know how to put ourselves in the shoes of those we work for and understand their needs, in order to solve their problems. To be able do to this, you need to be able to adapt quickly, because your day could go from having a meeting with a manufacturing company in the morning, to having a call about online pricing in the afternoon. You therefore need a certain intellectual agility to be able to juggle the technical aspects and business tactics within the different sectors. Internally, it’s the same, as we work with both our team of salespeople and our R&D team. The first we work with on client meetings and the latter is because we are the first people to use the tools they develop and we keep them informed on any use cases that may arise.
Can you give us a detailed description of how a project unfolds?
I will use the Monoprix project as an example, which is the first project that I carried out independently. As is so often the case, the idea was to industrialize client practices, but also to go one step further, because equipping clients transforms their processes, and so we also support their internal change. We try to find out as much as we can about their business and then we move on to the PoC phase. This is done by establishing a comprehensive project definition which is then limited to a particular field that will be specifically covered by the PoC. We also use UX design best practices in order to solve problems in the best possible way. I then capture all of this in ActivePivot and ActiveUI and we usually go through the iterative process that leads to a final demo, which is presented to the decision makers. In this particular case, it was the executive committee which included the CEO of Monoprix!
What do you enjoy about working at ActiveViam?
The work is never boring, and that is very important to me. Overall, every part of the company is great, obviously including the small team that I work with! We always help each other out. ActiveViam has the stability of a great company, we have access to high-level contacts among our client base, whilst somehow keeping a “start-up” spirit. Everyone knows each other, so we all enjoy coming to work. I would like to finish with a little tip for the engineers: don’t be afraid to try something new! When I started the DTY program, I was one of only three women among the 24 students, and I had no prior knowledge of computer science. However, everything went very well and I am happy where I am today. Come to ActiveViam and you will be welcomed with open arms!