Why You Want to Consider Doing Pilot Projects With Your Customers


You need to think small, not big. Basically, your goal should be to get an initial project that gives you a chance to prove your value and establish a relationship with someone in the company.Jill Konrath, Selling to Big Companies Author

Although you may decide to sell a product without doing a pilot — an experiment or test before introducing something more complete — pilot projects help you understand the risks prospects take by trying your technology.

It’s always best to know early whether the sales, implementation or legal aspects of the solution might be issues. Pilot projects are designed to help you and your prospects learn and grow into a relationship.

Once a pilot project has been sold to customers, you have a foot in the door. If you’re playing your cards right and adapting to their needs, you should be able to turn a pilot into a paying customer.

Because of the level of service involved with pilot projects, there’s a risk of becoming a professional services company; you must be aware of that going in.

You want to offer higher value and service to learn what works (not necessarily discounts). This can save you development work, but you must make it clear that you’re not building a custom solution.

For your pilot, do not to be too stiff with the revenue model. A revenue model is not just the pricing, and Software as a Service (SaaS) is not the only revenue model.

A revenue model describes how a business generates revenue streams from its products and services. There are many alternate B2B revenue models to explore:

  • Commerce and retail: Selling physical goods, digital products, services for a fixed price or services for future use like product credits.
  • Subscriptions and usage fees: Monthly or yearly subscription fees (SaaS), on-demand usage, storage or volume fees and rentals.
  • Licensing: License of use of patents, technology or certifications like the McAfee SECURE Trustmark.
  • Auctions and bids: Auctioning or bidding systems like Google AdWords.
  • Advertising: Less frequent in B2B, includes banners, affiliation, promoted content or sponsorships.
  • Data: API data usage like Twitter.
  • Transactions/Intermediation: Brokerage, transaction fees or marketplaces.
  • Freemium: Paid version without restrictions or with additional features.
  • Financial services models: Interest revenues or asset management fees.

Take time to consider alternative revenue models. Like Salesforce who brought Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) to the age of SaaS, choosing the right revenue model can give you an edge in a stagnant industry.

A pilot project is a good way to overcome objections, reduce friction and establish strong customer relationships with your prospects.


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