Turning “pilots” into revenue

It is relatively easy to start a “pilot” with a prospective client…particularly if it is at no charge.  The common challenge…how to get the client to start paying.  Some thoughts on how to get you more comfortable doing so…

Create a document to manage the pilot

Developing a document that outlines the pilot will help ensure you are on the same page with client and make it easier for you to move the selling process forward.  Key sections include:

  • Start/End Date
  • Scope
  • Client’s Goals for Pilot
  • Success Criteria
  • Status Updates (frequency, discussion areas)

Review the document with your client and decide whether or not you want them to sign it (may depend on relationship with client and resources you allocate to the pilot).

Agree on Success Criteria

Work with your client to define the criteria for determining whether you have reached the goal(s) for the pilot.  This will make it easier to move the engagement toward closure.

Define next steps if Success Criteria are met

What are you asking the client to agree to do if the pilot is considered a success?  Try to have this included in the document you are using to manage the pilot.  There are many forms of commitment from the client you can request, including agreeing to…

  • Begin paying for your solution at the conclusion of the pilot
  • Pay for your solution starting on another date
  • Pay for the pilot or a portion of it
  • Be an actively engaged reference

Set-up regular Status Updates

Having a recurring meeting (e.g. weekly same day, time) ensures consistent communication with the client.  It also enables easier tracking toward “success” in the pilot.

Closing a deal is just the next natural step

If your company is meeting the success criteria you jointly defined and the client is agreeing with this progress during recurring status meetings…you should be in a more comfortable position to take the next natural step…agreeing on a payment structure and start date!

Feel free to contact me directly for ideas and/or help on this or other topics!

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