In advanced enterprise sales, POCs are a required sales stage so that prospects can evaluate the business benefits and technical merits of the product under purchase consideration in their environment. An evaluation process allows prospects to test a solution's viability without a full-scale product implementation. It's the best way to de-risk the purchase decision for the customer, yet it adds cost and deal complexity for the vendor, making the POC one of the highest stake activities that B2B and enterprise sales teams undertake.
Effectively managing your active POCs (or evaluations) means you must have a solid process in place to understand your product, manage the internal stakeholders, guide the expectations of your external stakeholders, and capture product and solution feature gaps that hold you back from getting to technical win.
POCs vary in terms of how they're managed and run. Yet, for most high-growth organizations, even the most disciplined struggle to manage what from the outside looks like disorder. This article covers how organizations can bring order to the chaos of POCs by highlighting some best practices and helpful tools that you can adopt.
Why Are POCs Important?
A POC is a great way to determine whether the proposed solution matches the needs of your prospective customer.
Here are two top benefits of running POCs:
- Show How the Solution Works in the Real World: A POC can reveal how your solution fits into your prospect's environment and workflow.
- Demonstrate Scalability: Your POC will indicate to potential customers whether your product can be scaled up to align with their needs.
- Establish Business and Technical ROI: Demonstrate first hand the return on investment from a technical and business perspective.
Four Best Practices for a Successful POC
POC's add value to the sales process, here are four best practices for a successful POC.
1. Start with the Customer's Business Objectives
When developing a POC, you should focus on the prospect's problems that your product will solve rather than emphasizing your solution's features. Always define the prospect's business objectives upfront and keep them top-of-mind throughout the POC process. POC's should be run in a consistent way by the entire team. Whether you have one sales engineer or thirty, it is helpful to have a common framework and step-by-step process so that you will have real-time visibility into what's happening. This will improve your reporting and forecast accuracy.
2. Use Accurate Data
Since your POC aims to demonstrate the value of full-scale product implementation, you should ensure that the data you collect and track is accurate and appropriate to the business objectives. Apart from giving stakeholders a picture of how your solution adds business value, a POC also gives end-users insight into how they can optimize the product to perform essential tasks. Many pre-sales leaders struggle with gaining access to the disparate data silos of Slack messaging, Zoom calls, email, CRM, and other communications tools. This leads to each SE managing their own data which means when someone leaves the company all of the valuable learning is at risk of being wiped from the employee's hard drive never to be seen again.
3. Select the Right Metrics
To ensure precise feasibility measurements, you need a clear set of metrics that'll gather the project's most relevant information to determine its success or failure. The best way is to interview the customer using targeted questions that drive the project to the desired outcome. Here is where many pre-sales teams struggle since the CRM is unable to capture all of the information, some of which may vary from evaluation to evaluation. Get this right and you will improve your technical win rate substantially since you'll be able to steer the testing more accurately.
4. Choose the Right Resources
Your team should have the right skills to make a POC successful because you'll be evaluating the long-term viability of a solution. Therefore, you need a project manager with the perfect combination of business and technical knowledge. Additionally, you'll need business users who can put the product to the test with real-world data and developers to perform any required customizations and integrations.
Make the Most of Your POCs
When you combine a disciplined POC approach with the right proof of success platform, you can achieve even higher levels of productivity. You can eliminate manual work, provide executive visibility into deal status, and organize all critical information. What's more, you can focus more intently on making your prospects' POCs a success instead of unnecessary administrative tasks.
When managed correctly, a proof of concept can be a valuable asset during a complex sales pursuit. A well-structured POC can demonstrate the viability of your solution in a prospect's environment and help move a deal to a technical win.