How do you evaluate the value of an enterprise pilot to an early-stage company?

Many in the startup ecosystem say that the key difference is between paid and unpaid. There is some logic to this as a giving “something of value” shows that they actually want something rather than just being polite. It works well for consumer products.

I am not convinced that it means much from an enterprise client. In an enterprise, it shows that someone with some budgetary authority has an interest in something that is somehow related to your offering.

But that might not be an interest in every adopting your product but rather part of their ongoing program to understand the world.

So for enterprise sales pilots, I have a different question to ask: “Is there a clear criterion for success that will trigger further ?”

Without that, then to me, it is just a Demo even if it is paid. Many Large companies will try “everything” without intent to buy anything. The cost charged for the pilot is inconsequential to them both in absolute terms and in comparison to the costs in time and attention of the staff involved in the pilot.

Without success criteria, how do you that what’s important to you, is important to them? How do you know how to follow up?

In short, how do you know anything?

Written by Russell Brand

Entrepreneur in residence at Founder Institute, he has mentored, performed due diligence on and invested in numerous early stage companies. Hundreds of these early stage companies have described Russell’s insights and advice as the most useful thing in the history of their companies. He has always had an inborn ability to find more valuable uses of new ideas and faster ways to achieve results.

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