Proof of concept best practice #5: Demand internal support

May 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

We’ve now reached the final installment of my suggestions to improve your proof of concept experience. As I’ve been pointing out through this entire series, for complex products or services, a POC is a critical milestone on the road to a sale. You don’t arrive at a POC by accident: your prospect thinks enough of your solution to dedicate time and resources to making a decision. Yet just when you think you’re going to win the deal, complacency or sluggishness during the POC will doom the sale.

To increase the likelihood of a sale, POCs should always proceed with a sense of urgency. Naturally, you want your prospect to be energized about moving forward, but you also need support from your colleagues, too. Assistance can come from diverse channels like engineering, customer service, operations, and so on – in fact, everyone in your company should be available to help sales.

Yet far too often, your co-workers may have a lackadaisical approach towards ongoing sales efforts, particularly from those who are not customer facing. Meanwhile, the POC flounders and then fails due to this tranquil attitude, yet the blame always falls on the sales team.

To prevent these disheartening outcomes, don’t be shy about asking for help. In fact, you should be extremely vocal in your demands, as long as the other criteria for the POC have been met:

  1. The POC must always occur in the context of a sale
  2. The POC must have a client-side business and technical sponsor
  3. The POC must have a clearly defined set of goals
  4. The POC must have an agreed-upon timeline

Creating a project plan – just like for a post-sales implementation – is a great way to coordinate all of your colleagues on the POC. It should clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities for everyone on the team, and you should share it with your management. It’s your job to keep it updated and provide frequent progress reports.

Finally, if you see trouble on the horizon due to insufficient internal support, don’t stand idly by and watch it become insurmountable. It’s better to alert people to potential problems and take action than to wait and hope for the best: if you’re not getting what you need, your timeline for demanding help should be measured in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

I’ve worked with quite a few technology companies to help optimize their technical sales processes. If you’d like to learn more, you can email me here.

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