There is little to no likelihood that enterprise sales prospects will proceed on an important purchase without testing solutions. A proof of concept phase will be required in order to demonstrate that a planned software purchase will deliver the value to the organization that the product champions assume will be the case. Few line of business (LOB) managers, or heads of enterprise IT organizations will take the risk of championing unproven solutions. Accordingly, ISVs selling these products must plan on proceeding through a proof of concept phase with demonstration software.
Early stage businesses with promising products can take the risk of engaging with enterprise market prospects without presuming that a proof of concept phase will be required. However, it is advised to simply assume that a mandatory demonstration will be required before purchases will proceed. Planning on this step will insulate ISVs from learning the same lesson the hard way, which will likely include more development expense crafting demonstration software from production applications.
If sales are planned correctly, then the proof of concept phase (demonstration) will occur as a natural progression as vendor and future customer collaborate on a solution that will deliver substantial value to the latter and enviable win to the former. We are very grateful to Jeff Thull who has very clearly describes this process in his book, “Mastering the Complex Sale”.
An unexpected benefit, as Jeff Thull makes clear in his book, is that the proof of concept phase may be largely unique to a specific software solution. This fact constitutes a formidable barrier to entry that an ISV’s competitors will need to overcome in order to win the business.
Therefore, it makes sense for ISVs to welcome opportunities to proceed to a proof of concept for specific sales opportunities. In fact an invitation to proceed to a proof of concept phase indicates that an opportunity is maturing and should proceed to a purchase post successful completion of this phase.
ISVs should have demonstration software available that can be installed on premise to ensure that enterprise IT organizations can evaluate solutions within their data centers. Even pure cloud applications should be available for this type of review, usually as a managed service run on a corporate Intranet. As we mentioned at the opening of this post, neglecting this step as software is developed will only result in unplanned expenses later on as a first enterprise prospect, inevitably, asks for a demonstration copy of a solution.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved