Have you considered using a pilot program as a strategy to get the sale? Your prospects might want a pilot program to try your product or service before they make a major buying commitment. Pilot programs can persuade your prospect to buy. A poorly planned pilot program will not. Here’s what you can do to create a pilot program for your products or services that does get the sale.
Sell the pilot.
You must sell the pilot just as you sell your product or service. It’s hard for prospects to buy something when they don’t understand what will happen or what they need to do. You make it easier to buy the pilot when you clearly outline what will happen, when the action will occur and who is responsible for the action. A simple table with columns of what happens, who is responsible and the due date is a quick visual to clearly identify what is included in your pilot program.
Just be sure that the due dates you give yourself are ones you can deliver. For example, your pilot might include analyzing data after receiving information from the prospect. This analysis could take you a week. Build in a cushion for your deadline and promise 2 week delivery so you can under promise and over deliver. You don’t want to be the cause of a break down in the process that causes the pilot to fail. Your delivering data late could cause a prospect to consider the pilot program unsuccessful. Delivering data early could show your prospect that you are easy to work with and he would judge the pilot a success.
Create reasonable prospect expectations.
A successful pilot will improve your prospect’s current situation. You and your prospect must establish the baseline for the current situation before the pilot begins. This baseline is the starting point for the pilot and both parties must agree what it is. It’s impossible to determine results unless there is a starting point.
Your pilot program outline has due dates and responsibilities. You should be specific about who has responsibility at your prospect’s location for each deliverable. That way if there’s a delay, you have a specific person to contact to get the pilot back on track.
I strongly encourage you to schedule weekly or biweekly meetings/phone calls to review pilot program progress. You don’t want to get a surprise later in the pilot that shows the prospect is using the product incorrectly or there’s a break down in the process causing you delays. Be sure that everything in the pilot is going according to plan. You want an early opportunity to correct any errors to ensure the program’s success.
Determine pilot program success before the pilot starts.
You and your prospect have determined your prospect’s baseline situation. You also must discuss with your prospect his expectation for the pilot program’s success. How much improvement would he need to see to determine success? This number must be identified before the pilot begins. Why? You run the risk of a prospect later saying that the pilot wasn’t a success because the data was not agreed upon.
Once you both agree on what pilot program success looks like you should confirm the prospect is ready to buy if those results ae achieved. You ensure the pilot’s success if everyone involved agrees on the data and the outcome for success.
Pilot programs are a great way to sell. Just be sure you do all the planning before the program to ensure you will get a new customer when the pilot program ends.