The pre-sales evaluation is the most critical component of the sales cycle for many companies. You cannot get the ‘deal win’ without first getting the ‘technical win’. Here are some of the most common types of pre-sales evaluations that sales leaders have been talking to us about over the last few months and the point of view of their prospects.
Types of Pre-Sales Evaluations
Software vs. Hardware
Software companies can run all five of these pre-sales evaluations more easily than hardware companies. It is simple these days to conduct remote software demonstrations and to set up trial software accounts; therefore these are basic options for software companies, especially for the commercial segment of B2B software companies. More complicated software solutions or more complicated segments (such as enterprise accounts) more often engage in POC or POV evaluations. POCs and POVs are much more involved than demos and trials and therefore require substantial involvement from sales engineering teams.
Hardware companies are usually limited to running managed trials, POCs and POVs because evaluating their products require hands-on involvement of sales engineering teams. In our discussions, we have only heard of hardware companies running POCs and POVs by name. Unlike software, hardware evaluations have an additional administrative complication over software evaluations: tracking physical inventory (i.e. who has what and where).
Best Practices – The Evaluation Plan
Regardless of the type of evaluation, it is critical to define an evaluation plan upfront. For companies seeking to reduce their evaluation durations, this is one of the best ‘best practices’ that we can recommend.
The evaluation plan is essentially your map to the ‘technical win’. Without a map, how do you get to your destination efficiently, and moreover how do you even know when you have arrived? A well-designed evaluation plan brings your evaluation to a logical conclusion as quickly as possible with demonstrated success.
The evaluation plan defines exactly what needs to be shown, tested, and/or proved in order for the evaluation to be a success. For example, evaluation plans for POCs include one or more evaluation scenarios that must be tested and achieve the results defined by their success criteria. For POVs, evaluations plans include one or more value metrics that must be measured and achieve results above (or below) their success thresholds.
Many companies struggle to create evaluation plans and define success criteria, and some fail to do this altogether. Others have them but fail to get their prospects’ buy-in upfront, making your evaluations one-sided: You think you are done, but your prospect disagrees. You are lengthening your evaluation cycle and increasing your deal risk in all of these situations.
As a best practice for successful pre-sales evaluations, we recommend that you:
By following this best practice you will:
For other best practices, check out our recent blog post here, or contact us to get a print-ready, PDF version.