Proof of Concepts or PoC’s in current world are an integral part of sales cycles. It is common for organizations to go through a gruelling phase of product PoC before approving any product. The process is so common, that today’s vendors have a dedicated team of engineers working to make the PoC successful.
While this process is critical, both the vendor and the customer gets concerned as it consumes too many cycles and the entire process could take months to complete. Industry standard research says a typical Network based PoC could take anywhere between 3 to 6 months.
For the customer, this involves key employees to spend time on understanding the product and work with the vendor and internal teams to validate the functionalities before moving ahead. In general this will not be just a single vendor, but will involve multiple vendors.
Moreover, in most cases, executing a PoC would be a secondary responsibility for these key employees in addition to their primary and other day-to-day work. If the PoC involves hardware elements, then getting necessary approvals for installation and access would take even more time, especially if the customer belongs to BFSI segment.
For the vendor, this process is more gruelling as most of the prospective customers would not pay for a PoC and there is no guarantee that they will go ahead and issue a purchase order at the end of the cycle. During this process, the customer would also be evaluating the competitor products as well. Managing multiple customer PoC for a vendor becomes a major expense that would increase the cost of selling if some of the PoC’s do not materialize. The overall process becomes a burden for both the vendor and the customer and it costs both time and money.
Therefore it is beneficial for both the vendor and the customer to reduce the time or accelerate the PoC process.
Putting PoC in the fast lane
Interactive Sales Demos
The first touch point of your product with the customer is the sales demo. This is the demo given by a System Engineer to end-customer. The Sales demos are generally divided into two parts
- Sales demos for CXO’s/Management team focusing on Business Outcomes
- Sales demos for Technical team focusing on Technical Use-case
Most of the sales demos given to CXOs/Management team are generally pre-recorded videos focused on the highlights on the product features with business outputs. While these demos are able to convey the message, an actual demo of a live environment that can demonstrate the cause and effect through your product will help to take home the message and increase the confidence in the management team.
Similarly for the technical team, the live demo or test-drive done by the System Engineer would be the first touchpoint of the product and its features. The demo is generally a live environment running in the data centre and most of the times, the demo is static and maintained by engineering teams. Hence the system engineers would have limited access to modify the configurations or the setup. Providing isolated sales demo environments to the system engineer with complete access ensures that the system engineer could customize the demo to customers, thereby increasing the confidence of the product. The system engineer could potentially share this setup with a guide to allow the customer to experience the product or solution as per their availability.
These additions will allow the customer to have more confidence in the product and will help during the PoC stage as the customer is already aware of the product and have seen its use-cases.
Enable Virtual PoCs
One of the major pain-point to execute PoC’s is installation of the product at customer premise. It takes a lot of resources from all parties to ship the equipment, procure the necessary permissions for installations and connect it as per customer setup.
To overcome this major challenge, virtualization is one of the best approaches. By virtualizing your product and creating a setup with tools to emulate real deployment,use-cases can be validated on virtualized setup by executing the PoC on this environment. Once the customer expresses further interest, then execute a short physical PoC or customer can directly move to the procurement stage.
In addition, if there is a way to provide on-demand customized PoC’s then it will further reduce the need for a physical PoC. For customers who are insisting for a physical PoC, the Virtual PoC setup could provide them an initial touchpoint, while logistics of the physical PoCs are sorted out.
Automate Your PoC Lifecycle for Scalability
Once your product demos and PoC’s are virtualized, the next step is to enable the ability for your SE/PoC team to spin up these demos completely on-demand without the requirement of dedicated engineers to maintain the setups. This will provide your Sales and PoC Enablement teams to bring up multiple demo/PoC environments on the fly customized for each customer. This will not only enable for your team to scale and reach a larger customer base but it also allows your team to try out different versions and features of the product , without impacting each other.
By bridging the custom Sales demo environment to the PoC environments, you will have a single view of the customer which can be tracked throughout the sales and pre-sales process.
Criterion Networks Hosted Services
We at Criterion Networks understand PoC pain points faced during every sales cycle. Criterion PoC Lifecycle platform can be your one solution to all problems mentioned above. Criterion PoC Lifecycle platform provides the ability for your team to build and scale customized Sales Demos, PoC Environments and Learnings.
Criterion’s cloud based solution acceleration platform, Criterion SDCloud® tailored for customized network solutions enables on-demand customer demos and PoCs of network virtualization and automation use-case solutions such as SD-WAN, SDA, SDDC and Kubernetes. It is well-equipped with end-to-end proof-of-concept lifecycle using Criterion PoC LifeCycle Service which provides the ability to customize to the organization’s requirements and also provide full flexibility and control.