Say no to free POCs

“We love your product, but it’s new and we would like to do a POC.”

If you are a #founder of a startup or #productmanager of a new product, then surely you would have heard this.

But the one word that often accompanies this statement should make you run….

And that word is “Free”

There is nothing worse than a “free POC” for a large customer.

Most of them end up being failures – not technically but for business.

What is even worse is that some may drag for a while.

Money and resources are wasted but no goal is achieved.

If you are a B2B player targeting mid or large customers, then you should say “no” as a rule.

Free POCs are almost always a waste of time,

For both prospect and product building company.


– Free POC means no budget approval

– No senior manager or leader is involved in the decision making

– Low priority when it comes to getting access to data or people

– Rarely if ever success criteria are defined and agreed upon

– When it starts and when it stops, nobody seems to care

For the product building company

– Usually don’t get feedback to improve the product

– Near zero likelihood of it converting to a paid engagement

– Low visibility in the prospect organization

– Even if it works, you are unlikely to be able to use the success story

– Almost never will the prospect allow you to use their name publicly

Why it happens?

– If you have no customers or only freeloaders and no paying customers, you are desperate to validate your product

– Sometimes you may need real world validation that your product actually works (this is one of the exceptions)

– You want to convince yourself that because it’s a big name prospect, one day you will make a ton of money from them

– You see so much interest in free POCs that you want to call it “traction”.