Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Miller Heiman 2009 Sales Best Practices Study - Thoughts

Miller Heiman just released the results of their October 2008 study, which defines “World-class” sales organizations as being much more likely to achieve their targets.

The study shows that in World-class sales organizations:

- Sales and marketing are much more aligned to customer needs
- Consistently follow standardized processes to qualify opportunities
- Have a formalized, compelling value proposition
- Clearly understand customers’ issues before proposing solutions

In my experience, these same attributes apply to demos:

- Sales and marketing are much more aligned to customer needs:

Product roll-out and other marketing demos match well with real-life customer situations and are customer problem/solution oriented, as opposed to product/feature focused.

- Consistently follow standardized processes to qualify opportunities:

Software demos are viewed specifically in terms of (1) Vision Generation and (2) Technical Proof, as opposed to Harbor Tour Demos; demo need and preparation are carefully reviewed prior to presentation.

- Have a formalized, compelling value proposition:

Specific, tangible “Delta” measurements, based on customer specifics, are much more compelling than “This will save you time and money…” platitudes.

- Clearly understand customers’ issues before proposing solutions:

Thank you thank you thank you…! How can you possibly demonstrate a “solution” if you lack a sufficient understanding of the customer’s problem?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Buyer’s Perspective Regarding SaaS Offerings

A recent article in eWeek gives us insights into our customers’ perspective when they are contemplating purchasing SaaS offerings (“Taking Measure of SAAS Reliability”, eWeek, January 19, 2009).

Specifically, the article includes a section sub-headed “Questions for the provider”, which include:

- “Make sure the SAAS vendor you’re evaluating provides information about the uptime and performance state of each of the discrete services it offers...”

- “When it is time to discuss reliability with the SAAS provider, SLAs (service-level agreements) … are a natural starting point.”

- “You should discuss with the SAAS provider how its architecture deals with surges in load, and how it is prepared to scale to additional customers without affecting your application reliability.”

- “…You should find out about software update schedules…”

- “…Find out to what extent the vendor’s application takes advantage of client-side execution…”

- “…Make sure to ask the SAAS vendor whether its application makes any provisions for offline data access.”

An additional sub-head entitled “Testing for yourself” suggests tactics for buyers to see proof:

- “…It’s important to test the SAAS services for yourself, beginning with demo accounts…”

- “Beyond the anecdotal accounts of application performance and availability from the pilot group, some SAAS services … include page render time counters.”

- “There are also some services, such as TrustSaaS.com and Pingdom.com, that keep tabs on SAAS services and offer reports on the uptime…”

eWeek is targeted at IT management. It is always interesting to see what buyers are reading…!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DemoWorks – Recording Tool

I note a (potentially new) demo recording tool is available: DemoWorks, by ComponentOne. It appears to offer a reasonable range of recording and delivery functions – including the availability of a free “Community” version.

The Community version limits recordings to 30 seconds but is otherwise the same as the “Professional” version. Current U.S. pricing for the Professional version is $200.

You can find more information here: http://www.componentone.com/SuperProducts/DemoWorks/

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Demo! – For Development?

No, not necessarily for teaching developers how to demo to others in their organization and to customers (although that is a good idea…!), but rather more interestingly, I’ve had several reports from Great Demo! Workshop customers of how Development teams use Great Demo! tools and methods to help direct the creation of capabilities and features.

Specifically, they report that they are now working backwards from customer-facing demos (or expected demos) to implement or improve capabilities. For example:

- Development groups are using Situation Slides to ensure that they understand customer situations, prior to coding features. Situation Slides are then often broadened into more detailed Use Cases.

- Understanding that the Do It pathway (the fewest number of steps required to complete a task) is typically the desired pathway from the customer’s perspective – has lead to removing extraneous steps and reducing the complexity of tasks and workflows.

- The need to be able to clearly communicate the key take-away deliverables – Illustrations – has resulted in improvements in formatting, default settings, and layout of key screens and reports.

You gotta love it when sales and development are in alignment!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brief, Good Article on Demos Done by John Chambers

Here is an article by Carmine Gallo about John Chambers’ demos, as prepared and supported by Jim Grubb (Cisco’s Chief Demo Officer…):


A few good ideas and an easy read.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Demos to Mixed Local and Remote Audiences – Tips to Handle Combination Situations

What is the strategy for handling situations where you are face-to-face with one group of customers and other participants are connecting remotely? Treat the entire session as if it is a Remote Demo.

Yes, this will force you, as the presenter, to remain at your laptop computer – but it also means that you’ll remember to use the mouse for all of your movements (to point, annotate, highlight, etc.), as opposed to hand motions or using a stick or laser pointer. We have to bear in mind that anything done outside of the collaboration software won’t be seen by the remote audience.

Here are some additional tactics to consider in these “mixed” situations:

- During your introduction, be sure to have everyone at each location introduce themselves (if the total audience is less than ~20 participants) – ask:
= What is your name?
= What is your job title?
= What one thing do you want to make sure we accomplish today?

- If possible, ask a remote participant to be an active “host” to serve as a conduit of information to you:
= Are there delays – latency – with the collaboration tool displaying your software or presentation?
= Can they hear your voice adequately (can you hear theirs, as well)?
= Can they see the full screen?
= Does anyone have a question or are confused, based on their expression?

- All “pointing” needs to be done via the collaboration software – so that both the face-to-face and remote audiences can see what you are pointing at…

- Don’t use physical props, unless you can use the sound the prop generates to communicate the idea effectively over the microphone/phone system.

- Repeat questions that are asked from audience members – for both groups. It will likely be difficult for every audience member to hear all of the other audience members…

- Remember to continually engage the remote audience, in addition to those who are face-to-face with you. Causatively ask the remote folks specific questions, to keep their attention.

- If you choose to engage in a mock “role-play” scenario, choose a remote audience member as the first participant. Add a local participant to the role-play, in addition, if the scenario supports it.

- Similarly, invite a remote audience member to “drive”, if appropriate – this will serve to engage both local and remote participants.

- For ad hoc work, use the collaboration tool’s whiteboard capabilities – or use a blank PowerPoint slide, if the collaboration tool lacks whiteboard functionality.

- Capture “Good Questions” in a Microsoft Word document as a “Not Now List” or “Parking Lot”, so that both face-to-face and remote audiences can see and participate in the process.

- Put more verbal dynamics into your delivery than you might normally do when operating face-to-face – and especially include more pauses of longer duration. This gives the opportunity for the remote people to ask questions, particularly if they need to un-mute their phone system(s).

- Don’t be afraid to call a break, if the session is expected to last beyond 90 minutes. It is harder to remain engaged as a remote audience than when face-to-face. Consider making the break a non-standard length – such as “13 minutes” – to help people remember to all return at the appropriate time.

- Keep in mind that different time-zones may be involved for the various sets of audiences – and respect accordingly. It may be likely to have people in the session from California, Chicago, Frankfurt, and Sydney…

- Remember to summarize at the end of each demo segment – if you see your local audience nodding their heads, it is likely that the remote people are doing so as well!

In summary, treat situations with mixes of face-to-face and remote audiences as if the entire session is being run over the web. You’ll add clarity to the overall event and increase your demo success rates (and you may even be nodding your head now…!).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Remote Demos - Audience Computer Mouse

Here's a simple, but important tip, when delivering Remote Demos to an audience of mulitple people in one location: Ask your host or Champion to move the mouse on the "participant's" (audience) computer out of the way!

I recently watched a number of Remote Demos presented where the mouse on the "participant" machine was left in the middle of the screen. A number audience members were confused by this, since they weren't sure which mouse cursor to watch. Solution? Have a team member (if present) or a Champion (or someone else at the customer site) move their mouse out of the way - for example, to the bottom-right corner of the screen - once the remote session has started.