Proof-of-Concept projects that work
Freda Gray shares her Top 3 Tips to make your PoC a success
If you have been trying to sell your fintech solution to the financial services industry, I’m sure you’ve had the “pillar-to-post” experience. Months (sometimes 12 or more) are wasted to get your foot in the door with the right person in a bank or insurer that you know could benefit from your solution.
It's, even more, time consuming (and costly) when you’re trying to break into a market on the opposite side of where you’re located on the map. If only you could show them the impact of your solution!?
More than a “Foot-in-the-Door”
A Proof of Concept (PoC) offers exactly that opportunity. It’s like a Request for Proposals – but better. You can show the impact your solution has, within the client’s environment and prove that it will achieve the objectives your client is urgently looking to meet.
The purpose of the PoC is to showcase the capabilities of your solution in a controlled environment, in order to build a business case for wider implementation. It is more than a foot in the door, it is a chance to learn what the client really needs and to build your relationship with them (people do after all buy from people). Even if it does not work out the way you wanted, it can still lead to future referrals and guidelines to refine your solution.
The Best Context
Of course, we’d all prefer to get all of the above benefits and more from a PoC. For the opportunity to be a golden one, you need the best context:
- A real sales opportunity – your client genuinely wants a solution, thinks that yours is a fit and wants to “test” it with a view to rolling it out.
- The person you are dealing with has the authority and relationships within the organisation to “sell” implementation of the solution after a successful PoC.
- There is a budget to implement or at the very least a plan to get the roll-out budget.
If your PoC opportunity has this context, then it is up to you to make it work.
How do you make a PoC work?
I’ve been involved in PoCs in a bank (as an innovation project manager) and in my current role, I’m privileged to see both the perspective of the client and solution provider. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
- Document everything: You’ve already confirmed that this is a serious selling opportunity, so the PoC enables you to write a solid business case for implementation. Before you start, establish who will make the final roll-out decision, what are their expectations and their success criteria. Start with the end in mind. Documenting throughout the PoC process will make your result-sharing a breeze – everything will be there, you would just need to compile the story and project the outcome on the roll-out scope. You will be all set for the “yes, let’s do it” day.
- Teams work: A successful PoC is a team effort… always. Ensure that you select the right team within your own company to deliver your solution. Also, get to know the client team. Walk in their “shoes” –understand what obstacles they face and help them devise ways around these. Use the time to show what it really is like to work with your organisation and build strong, multilevel relationships.
- Scoping: Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Sharpen your axe by scoping the PoC well. Spend time to:
- Understand the client’s exact needs (and expectations)
- Define measurable criteria for success
- Clarify who needs to be involved: typically PoCs require a multi-functional team and you need to involve the right (read real) users from the start (even if you just involve a few of them)
Define which questions your PoC will NOT answer and ensure that these are not crucial for the final buy decision.
Simple? It might sound deceptively simple, yet many get it wrong. If you ensure the right context, follow the above guidelines and, provided your solution is a match, you’re very likely to turn the PoC into a sale.
All you need now is that PoC opportunity.
Matchi could save you a lot of “pillar-to-post” time in getting new clients for your fintech solution. Most of our challenges reward winners with PoC opportunities. Our bank and insurer clients want real solutions and they have the authority and budgets to implement.
Check out our current challenges here. As a bonus, compared to an RFP process, there is very little paperwork!