As sales engineers, we are called to deliver great presentation and great demos. If we are successful on that, then a possible next stage is to deliver a Proof of Concept (PoC) and showcase the value of our offering!
This is a situation that brings the sales engineers in the spotlight, once more.
Lets see some key things around PoCs
1. What is a PoC: According to Wikipedia “Proof of concept (PoC) is a realization of a certain method or idea in order to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle with the aim of verifying that some concept or theory has practical potential. A proof of concept is usually small and may or may not be complete”
2. Do we need a PoC: Based on my experience, I have seen two approaches:
a. Poc or “die”: In this approach, account managers (AM) and sales engineers (SE), try to get the customer to ask for a PoC, since this will make him realize easier the value using his own data. PoC is a critical stage in the sales stage.
b. PoC only if it is needed and if we have commitment of purchase: In this approach, a PoC might be used but the decision to go for it is based on sales related elements. Some of them are:
i. Do we have a clear understanding the customer has budget to buy our solution?
ii. Are we sure that we have engaged with the correct stakeholders that can shape the PoC criteria?
iii. Do we have commitment that if we do a successful PoC, the customer will proceed with the solution purchase?
3. What to I need to run a PoC: A PoC is like a small project. We do need clear success criteria and business cases to work on. We need a specific timeframe to deliver the PoC (the shorter the better). We need to ensure customer resources availability.
4. Ok I did the PoC, now what: This is the moment of glory for the SE. Provided that the PoC is successful, then a few of the following things should happen:
a. Collect the results of the PoC in a nice value proposition document. The document should not be deep technical. It should discuss the results showcasing the business value that the solution will offer. After all we are addressing people that called to take business decisions.
b. Prepare a killer presentation along with a demo in order to present the results of the PoC. The presentation/demo has to focus on the key scenarios executed and value that the solution is bringing.
c. Be ready to respond to even more question about the solution.
If all goes well, the technical win has to be secured. The road is open for the AM to proceed with the commercial discussions and the purchase process. The SE can rest a bit until the next AM calls him 😀