Don’t proof-of-concept past the close

December 18, 2011 Comments Off on Don’t proof-of-concept past the close

“Don’t sell past the close” is a time-tested chestnut of sales wisdom. It refers to the reasonable recommendation that once you’ve attained agreement from your prospect that they’d like to buy, it’s time to stop selling – even if you have other good stuff to tell them about your product or service. Instead, the moment has arrived for them to “sign on the line that is dotted”.

As someone who has led sales engineering teams for many years, I’m here to tell you that this guideline makes sense when it comes to the proof-of-concept (POC), too. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many situations where this rule gets violated, and the outcome is usually unpleasant for everyone involved.

For example, several years ago I was assisting on a grueling POC. The client had given us a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges to overcome. But with the help of engineering, lots of caffeine, ruined weekends, and lost sleep we managed to successfully complete the POC. All that remained was the client presentation, which went off without a hitch, much to the apparent delight of our prospect.

At this point, all that was necessary was to ask for the order. But that didn’t take place. Instead, the sales rep asked if the prospect would like to see anything else from the POC. The prospect answered ‘No’. The question was asked again – not once, not twice, but three times. On the third re-try, our prospect mentioned that perhaps his European colleagues – who previously had nothing to do with the buying decision – might enjoy seeing what we had done. In fact, they might even have some ideas of their own. Imagine what happened next.

To help you avoid unhappy endings like these, in a future post I’ll offer some humble suggestions about smoothly transitioning from the POC to the sale.

If you’d like to learn more about technical sales and sales engineering, click here.


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