15 questions for sales teams before offering a POC

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Opportunity of engaging in a Proof of Concepts (POC) with customers is tempting. POCs often mean that deals are progressing in the sales pipeline. However, it can backfire as a strategy to use POCs as a first tool of engagement with prospective customer (“customer”).

Proof of concepts is not for building (sales) funnel, it’s for closing the funnel.

Common misconceptions

Here are some common misconceptions that are used while throwing POCs as a tool of initial engagement.

  • POC is a great hook to engage with a customer.
  • Customers won’t engage unless we offer a POC.
  • I’ll eventually close the sale once I get more time to engage in a POC with customer.
  • Once customer sees the product during the POC, they will be sold automatically.
  • Engaging in POC shows commitment from customers. If they are willing to put more resources, then they must be serious about buying the product.

POC is not a replacement for customer engagement

  • Without proper discovery, your prospect may not be looking to solve problems that you think he/she is. You may just be spending your energy on something that will most likely not yield any outcome.
  • A prospect may engage in proof of concept, but they soon will become unresponsive, or worse they stay engaged and have no plans to buy your product.
  • Proof of Concepts requires significant resources from your team. You can use those resources effectively in the sales deals which have better chances to close.

Proof of Concept is a great tool for sellers and prospects to engage and understand the value that a product can bring, but Proof of Concept should not be the first step in the sales cycle. POC should not be used as a bait to attract a prospect.

15 questions to ask before offering a POC

Here is a questionnaire/checklist for sales executives to decide if customer is ready to engage in a Proof of Concept:

  1. Have I completed the first level of discovery session with the customer to understand their basic needs?
  2. Did I have the right people during the discovery meetings?
  3. Is my customer aware about the problem we solve? 
  4. Is the customer already familiar with the product we offer?
  5. Is the customer asking the right questions about my product?
  6. Do I understand the pain points that customer is trying to solve?
  7. Is my product a good fit for the customer? 
  8. Is my product “good to have” or “must-have” for the customer?
  9. Have I shown a demo of the product to the customer?
  10. If a demo has been done, did the customer like the product demo?
  11. Have they analyzed my competitors?
  12. Are they currently engaged with my competitors as well? 
  13. Did we perform a thorough technical discovery (this is different than initial discovery. It goes more in depth at technical level, usually done by sales engineers)?
  14. Has the customer asked for proof of concept?
  15. Has the customer set aside a budget for solving this problem?

If most of these questions were answered in “No”, then most likely your customer is not a good fit for the Proof of Concept.

Image Credit: Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

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