As enterprise and critical infrastructure operators become more connected digitally, they are increasingly vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Operational Technology (OT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) cybersecurity incidents have severe financial impacts, cripple operations, reduce safety, and harm human health and quality of life, both within operators and within the customers and communities that they serve.
Enterprise and critical infrastructure operators recognize the need for OT and ICS cybersecurity, and they are buying. According to ARC Advisory Group's 2019 "The State of Industrial Cybersecurity", more than 80% of companies stated that operational technology (OT) cybersecurity is a high priority and only 10% say that ‘budget limitations’ are a major concern in case of an ICS cybersecurity incident/breach. As Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) are moving to close the long-standing gap between IT security and OT security, Global Market Insights predicts the ICS cybersecurity market will reach over $12 billion by 2026, growing rapidly at 20% YOY.
The most effective weapon that your sales team has in their fight to win the deal is the Proof of Concept (POC). Just as your OT/ICS solution combats industrial cybersecurity threats, your sales team has to combat deal threats, such as buyer insecurity, decision ‘analysis paralysis’, and competitors.
Well designed and executed POCs improve sales performance. According to McKinsey, companies with effective presales achieve:
Here are five ways that you can leverage POCs to boost your sales:
1. POCs prove that your technology will protect your prospect
Your marketing materials got you the lead and the ‘word of the salesperson’ got you the POC, but now you need to prove to your buyer that your solution will protect them.
Cybersecurity buyers worry about protecting their organization from attacks; that is why they are evaluating solutions. Buyers also worry that their vendor decision is linked directly to their job security as they may lose their job if the solution that they choose fails to prevent a cybersecurity incident.
Your buyer’s insecurity during the decision-making process cannot be underestimated in the sales cycle.
Design your POCs to prove that your solution can do what your buyer needs it to do and to remove your buyer’s fears.
2. POCs build the all-important ‘trusted advisor’ relationship
POCs are a collaborative form of technical evaluation. They give you multiple touchpoints with your prospect and multiple opportunities to gain a deeper knowledge about their business, priorities, motivations, and challenges.
Leverage this collaboration to design solutions that solve your prospect’s real business problems, show them new ways of protecting themselves, and guide them on continuous cybersecurity improvement. You win deals when you understand your prospect and stop selling them.
The close collaboration with your prospect also helps you look beyond the sales cycle and starting assessing:
3. POCs let you define a plan to get the technical win
The OT and ICS cybersecurity sales cycle is complex, and it is common for buyers to fall into a state of ‘decision analysis paralysis’. OT and ICS cybersecurity solutions, and therefore POCs, are complex, often involving hundreds of sites, assets, and systems. In addition, buyers are juggling multiple vendors, each with an overwhelming array of feature sets and its own POC.
A well-designed evaluation plan aligns you and your buyer on the goals of your POC, the use cases that will be tested, and the success criteria. A well-designed evaluation plan will bring even the most complex POC to a logical conclusion quickly and efficiently with demonstrated success. This is the very definition of the technical win.
Creating an evaluation plan can be challenging though:
The easier you make the evaluation process for your buyer, the better your chances of standing out among your competitors and winning the deal. Show your prospect that you are experienced and that you value their time by recommending a list of use cases that will demonstrate how your solution solves their business problems:
Standardize your POC best practices, key use cases, and lessons learned into evaluation plan templates that your presales team can use with each new prospect. Evaluation plan templates ensure that every POC is your best POC, even when managed by new or inexperienced presales teams. Templates provide great, repeatable starting points, but your presales teams should have the flexibility to tailor their evaluation plans to each prospect.
4. POCs allow you to capture product gaps and feature requests
Your product management teams are desperate for data about the product gaps and feature requests that come up in the sales cycle, whether they are nice-to-haves, blockers, future requests, or just curiosities. Presales teams are amazing at discussing features in the moment:
Guide your presales teams to capture this incredibly valuable product feedback during POCs and integrate it into your product management and roadmap processes.
5. POC Management solutions are the new best practice in cybersecurity presales
Purpose-built POC management solutions like Homerun are the newest software category in the modern sales tech stack, and they change the way best-in-class cybersecurity vendors sell and win deals.
The traditional ad hoc POC process is no longer sufficient, with its reliance on knowledge and practices known only to the best presales solutions engineers, a mish-mash of side tools (most of which are unapproved by IT), and CRMs that are not designed for presales.
The core capabilities of POC management solutions include:
At a minimum your POC management solution should maintain a record of the following items for every POC:
Your POC management solution should integrate all of this presales and POC data with your sales tech stack (most importantly your CRM), product management solutions, post-sales solutions, and other data/reporting systems so that this valuable data can be leveraged throughout your organization.
Learn how one cybersecurity company grew their sales through better POCs: Case Study