Can anyone make some recommendations on what courses, certifications and/or books they would recommend to someone considering making a move from sales to Pre-Sales? I am semi-technical as far as a salesperon goes, but am interested in gaining more technical knowledge and possibly moving to a presales role. Thanks in advance.
Within NetApp's own storage training products, the first offering we most often point to is a course called Data ONTAP Fundamentals; 5 days in length. It is the proper starting point. From this class, we can suggest several that are more focussed on deployment of network protocol (NFS/CIFS/SAN) or details of data prtoection or disaster recovery/business continuance.
Our base certification is called NCDA. The preparation and description of tests are found here (as well as information about certification that is targeted more at specilized roles in pre-sales and post sales technical):
Click on "getting started" to see the pyramid of certification offerings.
As most of our solutions include connectivity to other gear, you would be wise to undertake some consumption of training from RedHat, Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, Brocade or others based on the area of specialization that you might desire.
Lastly, it seems that there's a boatload of Storage related books out these days (even a "...for dummies" and as one would expect several IBM Redbooks):
Using SAN and NAS
by Curtis Preston is a good one to consider.
Practical Storage Area Networking
by Dan Pollack, looks appropriate from chapter titles and a brief review of topics, though I have not read.
I aggree that a solid technical background is essential, but I make sure that you maintain your messaging capabilities. A good pre-sales SE can speak to both management and the customer's most technical people. You need to be able to communicate the solutions that you architect to both management, and to the technical team, be able to create architectural diagrams, and speak to entire solutions.
I would start with working on ASAP certification, this is an introductory techncial class, that if done in class will give you a bunch of hands on experience, and start to talk with other pre-sales resources. The NCDA certification certainly will cover all of the information in the ASAP curriculum, so there is a great deal of value going down that path.
Once you have the basics of NetApp down, practice delivering your messaging of the soltuions, and make sure you can go deep on specific topics, and also don't be afraid to say that you don't know something!
If you have any other questions, or would like to talk with someone, I am a Technical Partner Manager, and can get you in touch with specific resource to help you through the process.
If you get the opportunity to watch some of the new Whiteboarding techniques, it is a great way to articulate value and messaging without getting into the datasheet of speeds and feeds. There are many gurus out in the field who are great coaches. The Partner Academy often has some technical sessions available out in the field.
There are also some tutorials in the Partner Learning Center and within the internal web pages of NetApp University. You can find them under Solution Learning Paths.