Thursday, April 29, 2010

Demo Expertise – and Demo “Experts”

I’m intrigued by the concept of an “expert” – particularly as it relates to creating and delivering software demos. How long does it take to become an “expert”? Does this take a year? 2 years? 5 years? Longer?

More importantly, is length of time the key factor? For example, the ability to learn a process and execute it through a range of conditions might connote expertise. It also might simply mean that a person has learned to execute a poor or mediocre process very well.

Another view might suggest that there are two processes going on: The first is the process of the demo pathway itself; the second is the ability to bring it to life – showmanship. One person could be an expert at the demo pathway, but poor at showmanship; another might be a terrifically engaging personality, while presenting a rather boring or misaligned demo pathway.

Those who have been delivering demos for years may actually suffer another challenge. Cognitive dissonance impacts our impressions of ourselves, with respect to our abilities. For example, many sales, presales and marketing people believe that they are demo experts since they have been preparing and presenting demos for many years. Other data may suggest, however, that their demos are not particularly strong – from data such as failure to achieve quota, repeat demos for the same audience, and losses to competitors or “no decision”.

Are you a demo expert? How can you tell?

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