I’ve just reached my 5 years with Seal landmark. That’s the longest I’ve stayed with one company in my career to date. The reasons are numerous but include the evolution of the market; the Seal technology; our ability to both help carve out visions with customers and our ability to support them, and finally seeing them drive tangible and measurable results. I started out with a dual role covering both Presales/Solution Consulting and Customer Success, that soon changed as the company growth outpaced my bandwidth. My role was divided into two dedicated roles, which was much more about having clear internal objectives and ensuring appropriate resource match to ensure customer success.
In my “new” role as a Solution Consultant, I spend 90% of my time with prospects and customers or supporting my fellow teammates. Our focus is to understand the customers’ business needs and objectives as they relate to contract management and analytics. We do this by assessing whether Seal can deliver a solution that will drive positive results aligned with the customer’s objectives. This assessment includes a proof of value delivered through proof of concepts.
Defining a Successful POC
What makes a successful proof of concept? Is it about proving the technology works? Is it about getting buy-in from stakeholders around the business? Is it about getting to a defined output to achieve a particular project outcome? Is it about defining a minimal viable product ahead of moving to production and a staged global rollout? YES, to all those.
Often, it’s a combination of the above factors and more. The key to a successful proof of concept is to define the business drivers and needs and quantify them in terms of business value and risk mitigation. Next, it is important to define and prioritise the specific requirements and set a manageable timeline. It’s not always going to be possible to tackle all requirements in a proof of concept but selecting a broad set of assumptions to test is often the best way forward. Even at this early stage in our relationship with the customer, we are looking and thinking beyond these POCs to help them understand what success will look like, not just as a one-off but in the long term, as a means to drive business value and increase customer adoption.
Driving Customer Success Through POC and Beyond
Once a proof of concept is complete and deemed a success, both technically and by stakeholders, a robust business case must be in place to move forward. But what is needed beyond the POC implementation? Now is the time to circle back and ensure that the business goals, challenges, and requirements are all still valid. My team maintains communication with the customer and evaluates the entire POC process to identify any project evolution that may have occurred as we’ve become more familiar with the account.
Most importantly, we partner with our customers at this stage to ensure our Professional Services, Support, Product Management, and Customer Success teams are engaged and share the customer’s vision. By working on the same accord, we are able to focus on the long term and ensure that our solutions remain relevant and add value beyond the initial implementation. For Seal customers, this has manifested in numerous ways, including designing Centers of Excellence, rolling out new features and functions, priortising and delivering new use cases, and facilitating peer-to-peer conversations and idea exchanges.
POCs are just the beginning. As discussed, the role my team plays is really just the start for our customers. We get things off the ground, and then a gradual handoff begins. Throughout the implementation and roll-out phases, we are helping to define success and work with our Customer Success team to continually review, update, refine, and look for new use cases. However, even though we have dedicated Customer Success Managers, the key is that in reality, everyone at Seal is part of customer success. As Seal pushes the boundaries of contract analytics, it’s more important than ever to prioritise partnership and communication with our customers to ensure their success.