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 customer 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 adoption?”
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?