Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Great Demo! – Disruptive Innovation

At a recent Great Demo! Workshop, a senior manager commented that Great Demo! is not an incremental change – it is a disruptive innovation.  I asked him to explain.

He said that several years ago he’d had his team go through a “demo skills training” class (not Great Demo!) and saw some small incremental improvements.  He noted things like adding benefit statements after introducing capabilities and being a bit more engaging.  He commented, however, that while the team’s demos were a bit better, they weren’t yielding the corresponding improvements in the metrics he tracked and wanted.

He noted that he’d researched Great Demo! and sent “scouts” to a Public Great Demo! Workshop about 18 months ago.  On strength of their feedback – and more important, on the changes in the metrics that he tracked – he decided to put his entire team through the training. 

As he tracked the first few teams of graduates’ progress, he noted substantial improvements in the metrics he tracked, including number-of-demos-per-$-of-revenue, sales-cycle-time, length-of-demos, number-of-closes-by-demo vs. by-POC, and others (including direct feedback/comments from customers and sales people).

He said the improvements started incrementally, but then exhibited a moderately steep increase, reaching a new and surprisingly high (his words) level of performance. 

On the basis of the metrics he tracked, he said the implementation of Great Demo! throughout his organization has resulted in a rather remarkable, disruptive positive change in performance.

[By the way, the next Great Demo! Public Workshop takes place next week in Silicon Valley – you can find more information here.] 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Getting Critical Dates from Prospects – Often Neglected, But Key

There are typically three reasons why a sales opportunity goes to “No Decision”:

1.       Customer agrees there is a problem, but doesn’t perceive it as Critical
2.       Customer doesn’t see the Value
3.       There is no Critical Date by when a solution needs to be in place.

Let’s look at number 3…  Far too often, customers just can’t seem to “pull the trigger” and make the purchase. 

We ask, “Isn’t the problem important for you to solve?”  Customer responds, “Oh yes…!”

We ask and note, “Don’t you see the value – and that you are losing more and more of that value every day…”  Customer sighs and says, “Oh yes, the value is terrific – and I hate losing that value every day…!”

We then ask, “Then what is holding you back from making the purchase?”  Customer responds, “I don’t know…!”

They agree the problem is huge, they see the value, but they just can’t take that one additional step to make the purchase.  Why?  People are willing to live with the hell that they know – forever – unless they have a Critical Date or Event that forces them to make the change and implement.  (Anyone ever procrastinate writing a college or university paper until juuuuuuust before the deadline?)

Sadly, most sales teams think in terms of their own quarter ends as the “Critical Date” – and it is a Critical Date, but for the sales team, not the customer!

During Discovery, ask if the customer has a date by when they need to have a solution in place (and why).  Here are a few Critical Dates and Events could serve as examples for discussion:

-          Any major changes in your business expected in the near future – acquisitions, divestitures, new building, a move, reorganization or major new hires or retires?
-          Any compliance or regulatory events on the near horizon – audits, compliance reports, new regulations going into place?
-          End of life or end of support for existing software or equipment?
-          End of your fiscal year or quarter?
-          Project deadline?
-          New project expected?
-          Kickoff or quarterly meeting?
-          Selling season(s) – e.g., Summer Holidays, Halloween, Winter Holidays?
-          Tax season?
-          Board meeting?

Any others to suggest?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Make Your Demo a Purposeful Conversation

In Great Demo! Workshops we introduce the idea of “Peeling Back the Layers” and turning your demo from a firehose delivery into a two-way, bidirectional conversation.  Here are some exercises to help put some of these ideas into practice:

Exercise Number 1:  Is your customer engaged?

How can you tell if your customer is engaged and listening?  One great indicator is the number, frequency and relevance of the questions that they ask.  For example, if you demo for 10 minutes and then ask, “Any questions so far?” and hear the customer say, “Nope – we’re good”, that’s an indicator that things are going poorly…!

So, assess your last few demos (honestly):  How many minutes were there between questions from your customer?

-          1-2 is great;
-          3-4 is very good;
-          5-6 is good;
-          7-8 is risky;
-          9-10 or more is pretty bad, frankly.

So, what can you do to improve these numbers?

Exercise Number 2:  Mechanics – Avoiding “Premature Elaboration”

Do the following before your next demo:  Make a list of the questions you typically expect to get in that demo (for one product, for a set of typical job titles).

Next, prepare answers to those questions (or simply extract the answers from the talk-track of a “traditional” demo…) – but plan to let the customer ask those questions, rather than to pre-answer them in your upcoming demos. Have the answers ready to go, but put them behind your back (figuratively speaking…).

Now, generate a list of these questions in “prompter” format, so that you can track if and when these questions are asked in your upcoming demos. (“Prompter” format means using one or two words or simple word phrases).

During the demo track if and when each question is asked (it’s more important to track if than when…).  (You may need to ask a colleague to do this for/with you.)

Try to capture down any “new” questions you hear.

After the demo, review and contemplate the results.  How many questions did your customer ask on their own that were on your list?

-          80% or more is great;
-          60 – 79% is good;
-          40 – 59% is risky;
-          Less than 40% suggests that either your customer wasn’t interested or you pre-answered too many questions!

Now, set yourself an objective to increase your percentage over time.

After several demos, review the aggregated results. Do customers ask certain questions when you want them to?  Then you are doing really well..!

Note: the list of questions and rough timings is now a terrific on-boarding tool for new sales and presales folks!