Monday, May 19, 2008

Probe Probes

Very often, when a customer asks a question in a demo, you have an opportunity at hand to expand vision, achieve competitive differentiation, or reinforce value. Too often, we don’t take advantage of these opportunities…!

Frequently, we answer questions directly, rather than probe for further understanding before providing an answer. Jumping too rapidly to an answer is where we lose our opportunity.

For an example, let’s say that you provide a SaaS (software as a service) offering that runs equally well on Macintosh and Windows versions of Internet Explorer (but your competition only supports Windows)…

Case One – the Lost Opportunity:

During your demo, a customer asks, “Do you support Macintosh?”

You answer, “Yes, we do” and then continue with your demo. You’ve clearly squandered the opportunity to support this further. [They could simply be curious; they could be interested in a handful of machines or a pile of Macs; you just don’t know…]

Case Two – Opportunity Seized:

During your demo, a customer asks, “Do you support Macintosh?”

You answer, “Yes, we do” and then follow with, “Why do you ask?”

The customer replies, “Well, we are about 50% Macs these days and Mac support is critical. Some other vendors either don’t support Mac at all or do it poorly”.

You comment, “Thanks – the Macintosh is a key platform for us and our current customers, and our product roadmap for future releases continues to emphasize this.” [Ah ha! Mac is a very important issue for them and you have a huge competitive advantage…!]

The moral? Contemplate “probing probes” when you believe you may have appropriate opportunities.

1 comment:

Sean Murphy said...

This is a great practice to incorporate into any demo!

You have to take every question as an opportunity to learn more about the customer's perception of the problem and barriers to adoption. Too often a presenter can get focused on making his points ("can we hold questions to the end, I have a lot of material to cover here") without determining whether or not they are on target or even relevant to the prospect's needs.