Why You Want to Consider Doing a B2B Pilot Project 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 project — an experiment or test before introducing something more complete — pilot projects help you understand the risks prospects take on by trying your technology.

It’s always best to know early whether the sales, implementation, or legal aspects of the solution might be issues. B2B 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 play your cards right and adapt to their needs, you should be able to turn a pilot tryout into an early paying customer.

Because of the level of service involved with B2B 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. This can save you development work, but it has to be clear with your prospects coming in that you’re not building a custom solution (Read: The Dangers of Building a Solution for a Single Customer).

For your pilot, don’t 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.

Picking the Right B2B Revenue Model for a Pilot Project

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 McAfee SECURE Trustmark;
  • Auctions and bids: Auctioning or bidding systems like Google Ads;
  • Advertising: Although it’s less common in B2B, advertising can include banners, affiliation, promoted content or sponsorships;
  • Data: API data usage like Twitter or Twilio;
  • 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 alternate revenue models. Like Salesforce who brought Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to the age of SaaS, choosing the right revenue model can give you an edge in a stagnant industry.

Pilot projects are a good way to overcome objections, reduce friction, and establish strong customer relationships. Done well, they can help you generate revenue while granting you unique opportunities to learn from early adopters.

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