A proof of concept (POC) in the sales process is utilized when the buyer isn’t sure if your solution will work for their needs and fit into their current workflows. It’s essentially a test of your solution with the expectation that if everything goes as planned they’ll buy your solution by the POC end date. That means that successfully running POCs is an important part of the sales process because it can increase your technical win rate and as a result, deal close rates.
Unfortunately for many companies, their POC process isn't data-driven since typically it’s completed in docs, sheets, or decks without the ability to learn from the execution across the team. Often, they run their POCs using Google Docs/Sheets, random fields in Salesforce, or some other software that wasn’t built to efficiently handle it. In addition, organizations often work around the needs of the process which creates a bespoke process for each customer, but they never learn how they can find repeatability. In this post, we’ll discuss 6 best practices you can implement right now to increase the success of POCs within your organization.
The best time to build a robust and structured POC process is before it’s needed. Building the foundation early enables you to take time to thoughtfully build out your POC process the first time instead of rushing it. It also means that it’s already in place by the time your revenue team has grown to the point where it’s a requirement to keep everyone aligned. In addition, a good POC process stands out to buyers and makes a positive impression of what it will be like to work with you long-term.
One of the biggest benefits of being thoughtful around your POC process is it will shorten the ramp-up time for new team members. They can follow a tried and true process that’s been thoughtfully crafted for your specific product and type of deal. With a successful POC process in place, individuals don't need to troubleshoot on their own to figure out what process works best over months and months. Instead, you enable them to run successful POCs right away.
A clear POC discovery sets the stage for an overall more successful POC process. Primarily, it helps you prepare everything that needs to happen before the POC can kick off including establishing the teams involved on both sides, as well as the goals.
The buyer needs to share their business objectives so you both know the problem they want to solve and what they need to see from your product. Then, together you can work on the success criteria to determine if the POC was successful such as increased revenue, decreased costs, or improved time management. Finally, you need to establish the scope so everyone has a deadline they’re marching towards to kick off the POC. Usually, you want the timeline to be the shortest amount of time needed to establish if the product meets the goals. That helps establish a sense of urgency on both sides. The exact length will differ for different products and types of buyers.
The only way to make sure that you have repeatable success with your POC process across your entire team is to first know what makes a POC successful versus an unsuccessful one. To know that, you need to make sure you’re tracking and documenting your POC process in an organized manner. Using a tool like Prelay enables you to fully track every POC in one place so you can compare the differences between the successful ones and the unsuccessful ones. You can review differences such as the duration, deal size, number of people involved, bug issues that have cropped up, product feature needs, successful success criteria, technical wins, etc.
You need a slightly different POC process for different types of customers. If you’re just starting to create a POC process, then you’ll start with a general one to begin tracking and documenting what makes your POCs successful overall. However, as you run more of them, pay attention to the changes needed for different types of customers. That will enable you to create a catered experience based on the product line, the competitor in the deal, prospect company size, use case, etc. Over time, you’ll have a few different POC templates for your team to choose from based on each customer segment so you can have a consistent and predictable process across your revenue team.
To make sure you achieve success, you often need to utilize resources across the revenue team as well as in other parts of the company such as product and engineering. You want to make sure that you can get a hold of the right person based on needs within the POC to speed up the process and get a technical win faster. You also want to have clear ownership of deliverables and visibility into where each deliverable is in the process to ensure the POC doesn’t run past the expected completion date. In addition, you want to clearly communicate status updates and POC-specific questions with the internal team in one centralized place so that everyone is always up to date.
It's difficult to run repeatable, successful POCs and ensure the full team is aligned across each deal if you're working in siloed, not data-centric systems during the process. With a purpose-built platform for POC collaboration and tracking, Prelay allows your team to hit goals and expectations set by the customer and achieve the overall technical win. Plus, you can run other complex deal processes alongside your POCs to keep your team in one tool including managed trials, opportunity plans, and efficiently allocating your deal team resources.