How to Run an Effective Trial
This post is on how to effectively run a trial in B2B sales.
There are obviously many aspects when it comes to running a trial in a B2B setting.
Some of the things you want to make sure are lined up correctly are:
- Executive sponsorship
- Right champion & stakeholders
- Trial Success Criteria
- Expectation of Pricing
- Expectation of “Go-live” date and next steps
- Understanding of the problems looking to solve
- Understanding of desired solution
- Understanding of what we’re looking to measure
So this is a good place to start.
One of the main things you want to be clear of when running any kind of formal trial…
Is that there is a clear understanding of the problems you & your prospect are looking to solve…
And an idea of the desired outcome, and what will constitute a successful trial.
And also, what will happen if and when the trial is deemed “successful.”
What will the next steps look like?
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Is there a clear expectation of the client coming onboard is the trial success criteria has been met?
In other words,
We’re not just willy-nilly running trials because sales rep Bob doesn’t have anything else going on, and figured it’d be better than just doing nothing…
You DON’T want to run trials in those situations…
Do NOT run trials JUST to run trials…
Have a clear idea of what is your desired outcome and what are the problems you are trying to solve.
What is the ideal solution?
Are you and your prospect on the same page about everything?
Is there an agreed upon next steps if trial success criteria are met?
And what will happen if they are not met?
It is absolutely vital that you gain prior agreement (commitment) on these points before starting the trial.
You must understand that undertaking in a trial will take resources from not only your company but your prospects as well…
That’s why it’s crucial to have these points cleared up before proceeding.
A trial should not be done necessarily because the sales rep doesn’t know what else to do…
But a trial should be done…
To validate and prove out a hypothesis of a desired solution for a problem.
We want to make sure before going into a trial, that we have the appropriate executive sponsors onboard.
Does the ultimate decision maker and sign-off on the contract…
Know that this trial is happening?
What is their perspective on the trial?
Do they have a clear understanding of what KPIs need to be hit for this trial to be considered successful?
Are they in agreement of next steps should those checkmarks get checked?
Getting executive sponsorship is critical when running a trial…
After all… you want to make sure that the decision maker is onboard, so you have someone who will actually sign the contract when it’s all said and done!
You want to make sure that you have the right champion and stakeholders involved.
Does your main contact have “the juice?”
That’s another way of saying, does your main contact have what it takes to get this deal done?
You want to understand,
That in B2B sales…
Especially when it comes to larger companies…
Often times, you’re going to need a mover and shaker on the customer side playing as your counterpart within your prospect’s organization.
Your champion is essentially an internal salesperson on the prospect’s side of the company!
Often times they need the political clout, the ability & willingness to “make it happen…”
The internal credibility… and the ability to influence (or sell) internally, to get others to adopt your solution.
So bottom line is…
You need a champion in helping you get this deal across the line. Particularly if there are multiple stakeholders involved.
And then of course,
Making sure that you do have the appropriate people involved.
You want every who will have a major say in the ultimate decision to be actively involved…
If not at the very least aware of the trial that is about to happen.
We want to already have a clear understanding of the problem that the customer is looking to solve…
If we are moving into a trial, it’s because we already have a clear sense of the problem, and an idea of what the ideal solution should be.
Just as a doctor must first understand and diagnose a problem, before trying too solve it…
You definitely want agreement around what is the actual problem your prospect is trying to solve.
This is critical.
The prospect must have already recognized the problem, or you must help them recognize the problem.
You want to have an understanding of the client’s ideal solution.
What is the ideal state they envision?
What is the ideal vision that they could want? What does that look like?
How would that make them feel? (Consciously & unconsciously they should be getting associated with that ideal state)
And then from here,
They must know how to get there.
They do that by getting clear on the success criteria.
What do you need to see happen on the trial in order to justify a move forward following it?
Get alignment on the success criteria.
Make sure that everyone who needs to see it and agree with it does before moving forward.
Specifically, you want the senior stakeholders on the prospect’s side to be in clear agreement of the success criteria and next steps before proceeding with the trial.
Setting success criteria and setting next steps are absolutely key in setting up a successful trial.
The reason for this is because…
You are leveraging one of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence…
You are getting your prospect to commit to you (and him or herself)…
That if they are able to see results A, B, and C…
Then they will move forward with a contract.
In these cases, it’s actually helpful to set a “go-live” date.
As in, let’s send over T&Cs (terms and conditions) while the trial is going, so that if the success criteria are met…
We can have a quick go-live date and just keep the solution running.
Of course, the final thing necessary before the start of a trial is an understanding of pricing.
Obviously, the prospect cannot move forward into an agreement…
Even if the trial was successful…
Unless the prospect knew what the solution cost!
Make sure the prospect has a clear understanding of what the solution will cost, and what is included.
Alright, so that about wraps up the checklist of things to check off when running a trial.
Some additional tools & tips:
Sometimes if you’re doing a trial across a wider team…
It can be helpful to create “pre” and “post” trial surveys for the individual users.
Some things you can mention on the “pre-trial” surveys:
- What the current state is like
- How much time are they spending currently doing X?
- How much money are they spending currently doing X?
- Quantitatively measure ‘where they are at’
- Qualitatively measure ‘where they are at’ just by asking questions
And then on the “post-trial” survey, you can follow up with questions like:
- After experiencing the solution, what is their current state like now?
- How much time does it take to do X now?
- How much money does it take to do X now?
- What measurable results are you seeing?
- What qualitative results have you seen?
- What’s the impact of these changes?
From there, you can have a pretty clear case of weighing the benefits against the costs.
And from there, it should be pretty evident to move one way or another,
And you have the numerical and verbal commitments of the actual end users stating those things.
So it helps the decision maker make the justification much easier.
Alright folks, that’s it for “How to Run an Effective Trial.
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