POC vs. POV: Detailed Comparison

min read
May 17, 2024

Are you a sales engineer struggling with the distinction between "Proof of Concept" (POC) and "Proof of Value" (POV), often using the terms interchangeably? This confusion can lead to ineffective sales pitches and missed opportunities.

While there's no one-size-fits-all solution when deciding POC vs. POV, each approach offers unique strengths that can be leveraged depending on your product and customers. The goal is to move your deal into the contract stage by using either.

POC vs POV: At a Glance

Before we dive into the details below, let's quickly compare proof of concept vs proof of value.

Feature Proof of Concept (POC) Proof of Value (POV)
Focus Technical feasibility Measurable business value
Objective Validate if the product works in the customer's environment Demonstrate the product's ROI and positive impact
Benefits - Reduces technical risk
- Identifies integration challenges early
- Builds customer confidence
- Justifies investment decisions
- Aligns with business goals
- Enhances customer confidence
Typical Stages 1. Planning and scoping
2. Execution and monitoring
3. Reporting and analysis
Quantifying product benefits
Crafting a compelling narrative
Key Elements - Clear objectives & realistic expectations
- Data selection & security protocols
- Performance metrics & user feedback
- Customer pain points & challenges
- Quantifiable benefits (cost savings, ROI)
- Compelling storytelling
Formats Demos, reports, presentations Customer case studies, ROI calculators, white papers & industry reports
When to Use Anytime you need to establish technical viability (complex products, new solutions) Readily available products with established value
Products with proven ROI

What is Proof of Concept (POC)? 

Proof of Concept (POC) is essentially a small-scale demonstration aimed at confirming the technical feasibility and functionality of a product or solution. At its core, a POC aims to mitigate technical uncertainties, identify potential integration challenges, and instill confidence in the product's functionality.

A well-executed POC can establish trust and credibility with clients paving the way for a successful sales outcome.

Benefits of POC

Let's explore the benefits of Proof of Value (POV) highlighting its advantages in the sales process.

Reduced Technical Risk

POCs play a pivotal role in reducing technical risk by testing the product compatibility with the customer's infrastructure. This includes assessing whether the product integrates seamlessly with other tools and platforms already in use. For instance, a financial institution considering a new accounting software may prioritize compatibility with its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Early Problem Identification

One of the key advantages of POCs is their ability to uncover unforeseen technical hurdles early in the sales process. By identifying potential integration challenges or performance issues upfront, sales engineers can proactively address them, saving valuable time and resources down the line.

Improved Customer Confidence

A successful POC builds confidence and trust with the prospect. For example, a cloud service provider offering a new data storage solution may conduct a POC to demonstrate the product's reliability and security features to a potential client, instilling confidence in their ability to meet the client's needs. This is particularly useful in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, finance, and government, where security and compliance are critical considerations.

Typical Stages of a POC

Now let’s discuss what implementing a POC looks like from ideation to achieving its outcome. There are typically 3 stages:

Planning & Scoping

The first stage of a POC involves defining clear objectives and scope. Sales engineers work closely with the customer to understand their specific requirements and expectations. For example, a software vendor planning a POC for a customer relationship management (CRM) system may collaborate with the client to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and success criteria for the project.

Execution & Monitoring

Once the scope is defined, the POC enters the execution phase, where you will implement the solution within the customer's environment. Throughout this stage, close monitoring is essential to track progress, identify any issues or challenges, and make necessary adjustments. It's a good idea to set up a regular feedback cadence from your clients in the beginning, be it on calls or emails. 

Reporting & Analysis

The final stage of a POC involves evaluating the results and presenting findings to stakeholders. You will compile data and insights gathered during the execution phase, highlighting key performance metrics, successes, and areas for improvement.

If you want to learn more about building sales POC, hop on to our beginner-friendly guide, designed for sales teams.

What Is Proof of Value (POV)? 

In essence, POV builds upon the foundation laid by the POC by shifting the focus from showcasing product functionality to demonstrating tangible business value. Unlike POCs that primarily aim to validate technical feasibility, a POV emphasizes the measurable benefits and ROI that a solution can deliver to the customer's organization.

Here are actionable ideas for different formats to create a strong POV:

1. Customer Case Studies

Arguably the most potent tool in persuasive marketing, customer case studies serve as powerful testimonials to your product's efficacy. When crafting case studies, focus on selecting clients whose challenges closely align with those of your target audience. 

You should highlight key pain points, the implementation process, and measurable outcomes achieved post-adoption. Don’t forget to quantify results wherever possible, such as cost savings, revenue growth, or efficiency gains.

Ideal for: Software as a Service (SaaS) products, enterprise solutions and consulting services.

2. Interactive ROI Calculators

You can develop online tools that allow potential customers to input their specific data, such as current expenses or inefficiencies, and instantly receive a personalized estimate of potential cost savings or revenue increase by using your product or service. 

For instance, if you're offering a cybersecurity solution, create a calculator that demonstrates the potential financial losses prevented by avoiding data breaches.

Ideal for: Financial services, cybersecurity solutions and productivity tools.

3. White Papers & Industry Reports

This is the most common format for POVs. You can conduct in-depth research to produce white papers and industry reports that highlight the broader trends and challenges addressed by your product or service. Offering actionable insights and data-driven analysis can position your solution as a strategic asset. 

For example, if you're providing AI-driven customer support software, publish a white paper outlining the rising demand for personalized customer experiences and how your solution meets this need.

Ideal for: Technology solutions, healthcare services and marketing platforms.

Benefits of POV

Now let’s look at the advantages of POV and how it extends the groundwork laid by POC for a stronger sales pitch.

Justified Investment Decisions

POV quantifies the potential return on investment (ROI). This provides stakeholders with clear financial insights to support investment decisions. To make this benefit stand out, show how your product or service has delivered measurable ROI for the prospect. You can highlight specific cost savings or revenue increases achieved through your solution. 

Alignment with Business Goals

A strong POV effectively connects the features of your product or service to the customer's specific business goals and objectives. To maximize this benefit, tailor your POV to address the unique challenges and priorities of each customer. 

You can also provide customized recommendations and action plans that demonstrate how your solution aligns with their strategic objectives and will contribute to their overall success. 

Enhanced Customer Confidence

By presenting a compelling POV, you can build trust and instill confidence in potential customers. Your message should be clear and concise and highlight the strategic value of your solution. Use case studies, testimonials, and success stories come in handy to showcase how your product or service has helped achieve customer goals. 

You should add data-driven evidence, such as performance metrics and customer satisfaction ratings, to validate the effectiveness of your solution.

Key Elements of a Strong POV

Given the importance of POV in showing tangible benefits to prospects, let's explore the critical elements which make a strong POV.

Customer Pain Points

To begin, thoroughly identify and define the specific pain points and business challenges faced by the customer. You should conduct in-depth interviews, surveys, and market research to provide valuable insights. For instance, if you're selling project management software, engage with potential clients to understand common pain points like missed deadlines or communication gaps. 

The next step is to develop a detailed pain point analysis document, outlining each identified challenge and its impact on the customer's business. Use this document as a reference point when crafting your POV.

Quantifiable Benefits

POVs help in conveying your solutions' values, in terms of time, effort and cost primarily. So use data and metrics to quantify these benefits. You should work with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the customer's goals and objectives. A marketing automation platform could demonstrate how your solution can increase lead conversion rates or reduce customer acquisition costs.

You can also create personalized ROI calculators or case studies that illustrate the potential cost savings or revenue increases achievable with your solution. It’s a good idea to reference industry benchmarks and third-party research to add credibility to your claims.

Compelling Storytelling

POVs don’t have to be boring. You can craft a narrative with customer success stories to bring your POV to life. For instance, if you're selling customer relationship management (CRM) software, share a case study detailing how a similar company improved customer satisfaction and retention rates. 

Make your stories impactful by engaging content formats such as case studies, testimonials, or video testimonials that showcase the positive outcomes achieved by your existing customers. 

When to Use Each POC vs. POV? 

A simple way to distinguish between a PoC and a PoV is to say that a PoC proves that the suggested solution works, whereas a PoV proves that it will work for YOU (the customer) and that the expected value to be realized is real and can be justified and measured.

For sales professionals, making the right POC vs. POV choice will impact the success of their pitch to a prospect. This choice will depend on your product category, team resources and who you are selling to. So, let's delve into when and how to use each approach effectively:

Achieving Technical Win with POC

POCs are often conducted when introducing a new solution or concept to a prospect. They are particularly useful for showcasing the functionality and feasibility of a product in the prospect's environment. They offer a technical win for your product, instead of focussing on financial considerations.

For example, when introducing a new software tool to a prospect, the POC can demonstrate how the tool operates within their existing systems and workflows, addressing any technical concerns they may have.

When conducting a POC, you should prioritize transparency and collaboration. It’s crucial to engage with the customer's technical team to understand their requirements and ensure seamless integration. You should document key learnings and insights gathered during the POC to inform the subsequent POV.

Leveraging POC Results in POV

Data and insights from a successful POC can be invaluable in strengthening the POV for a solution or business win. For example, if your POC demonstrates significant improvements in efficiency or cost savings, leverage these performance metrics to quantify the potential ROI in your POV. 

You should use the positive user feedback and testimonials collected during the POC to build the narrative around the value proposition of your product or service. A good POC highlights key performance metrics, user feedback, and any challenges overcome during the process. 

POV as a Standalone Strategy

Opt for a POV when you have a well-established product with proven ROI. In this case, the prospect would be confident in the functionality of your solution. They want to understand the practicality, financial benefits, and specific outcomes tailored to their business goals.

For instance, if you're selling a widely adopted marketing automation platform, a standalone POV can focus on showcasing its immediate impact on lead generation and conversion rates.

When crafting a standalone POV, emphasize industry benchmarks, case studies from similar customers, and readily available performance data. You should provide clear examples of how your solution has delivered tangible results for other clients, reinforcing its value proposition and credibility.

How Can Storylane Help You Create Powerful POCs and POVs? 

With Storylane, you can create self-service POCs that provide a customizable replica of your product environment using HTML capture. This allows potential customers to explore the product’s features and capabilities firsthand. They can visualize the value of your solution in their specific context.

Beyond facilitating POCs, Storylane provides valuable insights into how the buying committee interacts with your demo. It tracks user engagement metrics and analyzes user behavior within the POC environment. You will gain actionable intelligence on which features and functionalities resonate most with prospects. These insights serve as valuable first-party intent data, informing your next steps towards closing the deal.

Want to create a POC with Storylane? Start a free trial!


1. Who typically creates POCs and POVs?

POCs and POVs are typically created collaboratively by sales engineers, product specialists, and solution architects. They have close coordination with the sales and marketing teams.  Sales teams lead in understanding customer needs, while product developers and tech experts provide expertise to craft the demo.

2. How are POCs and POVs presented?

POCs and POVs are presented through various mediums, including live demonstrations, presentations, written reports, and interactive demo platforms. The presentation format often depends on the complexity of the solution being showcased. Live demonstrations allow for hands-on interaction with the product, while presentations and reports provide a comprehensive overview of the solution's capabilities and value proposition.

3. Are POCs and POVs technical documents?

While POCs and POVs may contain technical elements, they are not strictly technical documents. Instead, they serve as strategic sales tools designed to showcase the value of a product or service to potential customers. POCs focus on validating the technical feasibility of a solution, while POVs demonstrate the measurable business value it can deliver. They may include technical details but are ultimately tailored to resonate with a non-technical audience and drive purchasing decisions.

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"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."


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