Increase the speed and success of your proof of concepts (POCs) with these battle-tested tips for revenue teams.
A proof of concept (POC) is your golden ticket winning complex deals and large enterprise customers.
In the sales process, POCs are utilized when the buyer isn’t sure if your solution will work for their needs or 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. Running these tests successfully increases your technical win rate, and as a result, deal close rates.
For such a critical deliverable, POCs are still a pain point for many sales teams. According to the CIO Innovation Index, nearly two-thirds of B2B and SaaS buyer evaluations require a POC; and yet, half of these tests fail on average, with performance dragging even further when the evaluation stretches beyond 90 days.
Why is this gap so hard to close? Unfortunately, for many companies, POCs are rarely data-driven, since they're typically completed in docs, sheets, decks, or even random fields in Salesforce, without the ability to learn from execution across the team. None of these solutions are built to efficiently handle the complex, parallel workflows involved in a POC. In addition, organizations often work around the needs of the prospect, which creates a bespoke process for each potential customer; without proper deal tracking and reporting, teams can never learn how to find repeatability.
In this post, we discuss six best practices you can implement now to increase the speed and success of your POC process, unleashing a more efficient revenue team engine.
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 as a customer.
As you mature your POC process, you'll also shorten the ramp-up time for new sales engineers (SEs) and team members. They can follow a tried and true process that’s been crafted for your specific product and type of deal. With prebuilt templates and workflows, 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 a more successful POC process overall. It helps you prepare everything that needs to happen before the POC can kick off including the teams involved on both sides, as well as the goals. (It also helps presales leaders push back against offering up valuable SE resources for somebody who isn't ready to purchase.)
First, 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 define the success criteria to determine if the POC was successful. You also 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 possible to establish if the product meets the goals. That helps establish a sense of urgency on both sides. The exact length will vary for different products and types of buyers.
The only way to ensure repeatable success with your POC process is to first know what makes a POC successful versus unsuccessful. 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 evaluate your performance and compare success rates. You can review differences such as duration, deal size, number of people involved, bug issues that cropped up, product feature needs, success criteria hits, technical wins, and much more.
Different types of customers often require slightly different evaluation activities. If you’re just starting to create a POC process, then it's good to 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, use case, competitors in the deal, prospect company size, and other key factors. 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 other parts of the company, such as legal, product, engineering, and other internal deal support stakeholders.
Whether it’s a product gap or an engineering issue, you want to make sure 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 and visibility into where each deliverable is in the process to ensure the POC doesn’t run past the expected completion date.
Lastly, 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, non data-driven systems. As a purpose-built platform for revenue team orchestration, Prelay aligns every team across any part of the deal, so you can hit your goals and expectations set by the customer and achieve the overall technical win. Plus, you can run other complex deal processes alongside your POCs including managed trials, team resource allocation, Deal Desk approvals, Product Specialist requests, opportunity plans, and much more.