Monday, October 25, 2010

What’s the Opposite of “Dumb-it-Down”?

Frequently, I hear Great Demo! Workshop participants comment that their software is often perceived as too complex, as overkill for many prospects – and that they need to “dumb-it-down” in their demos.  I’d like to suggest that an alternative, potentially more apt phrasing could be to “Smarten-it-down”…! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

“How Many Sales People Work for You?”

When asked, “How many sales people work for you?”, a VP of Sales replied, “About half of them…”!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

“What would happen if you do nothing?”

Far too often, sales opportunities result in losing to that most common of all competitors: “No decision”. During a discovery or qualification discussion, the question “What would happen if you do nothing?” is an excellent way to test the importance and impact of a situation – and to determine whether the business issue is sufficiently important to the prospect to pursue.

A follow-on question could be, “Would that be acceptable to you?” if the answer is “Yes”, then the business issue is likely not a Critical Business Issue – and would have a strong probability of resulting in “No decision”.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remote Demos Team Practice

Here’s a simple, pragmatic tip: I have seen geographically distributed sales, presales and marketing teams use WebEx/GoToMeeting/Live Meeting (etc.) to conduct their weekly status/progress meetings on-line. This is a great way to build skills with the tools, with passing control among meeting attendees and practicing the use of the various annotation, white-boarding and other capabilities.

There is often a great deal of cross-learning that takes place – “Wow, I didn’t know WebEx/GoToMeeting/Live Meeting (etc.) could do that… Please show us how you do that!”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Remote Demos – the Role of the “Active Conduit”

[I'd promised to publish a more complete version of this some time after my initial post - here it is.  It is also available in article format as a PDF - send me an email at and I'll send it to you.]

The (very) best practice for Remote Demos is to split your forces – to have a representative from your organization at the customer site to serve as the eyes for the person presenting the demo remotely. The person at the customer site needs to be an Active Conduit of information to the demonstrator – he/she needs to be the demonstrator’s “eyes” on-site.

The lack of this Active Conduit feedback results in poor communication, confused presenters and audiences, and inconclusive results. Executing the role of the Active Conduit is critical to the success of Remote Demos – a passive representative from your company at the customer site is insufficient and a waste of resource!

For many vendors it is the sales person who typically sits with the customer at the customer site. Next best, if you cannot have one of your representatives present, is to ask your champion or coach to be your “eyes” for the meeting.

Here’s a brief list of the items that need to be communicated by the person at the customer site to the remote individual:

Before the demo:

1. Arrive at the customer’s conference room 15 minutes before the formal meeting is scheduled to begin to get things set up and operating correctly:

a) Start the collaboration tool (e.g., GoToMeeting, WebEx, Live Meeting, etc.) session on the customer side.

b) Help test and confirm screen resolution issues – “Yes, I can see your mouse across the full diagonal and we’ve maximized the screen here on the receiving end”.

c) Help test and confirm audio – “Yes, I can hear you fine… Here, let me move the conference phone microphones to better positions so that you can hear us better.”

d) Help test “latency” – “Looks like we have about a 2 second delay right now…”

2. Plan for managing questions – “Can you please plan to capture questions in a Word document from your laptop during the session?”

3. Review any other pre-meeting plans or issues.

During the demo:

1. Alert regarding “latency” – “Looks like you are about 3 seconds ahead of what we are seeing here… You may need to slow down.”

2. Somebody new arrives at the meeting – “Before you go on, we have a new participant in the room…” [And to ask the three questions:

a) What is your name?

b) What is your job title?

c) What would you like to accomplish during our session today?]

3. Somebody leaves – “Just to let you know, Bob had to leave the meeting….”

4. Unspoken questions – “Hang on, it looks like Jennifer has a question [furrowed brow, raised hand, look of confusion, etc.].”

5. Inability to hear – “John, let me repeat that question for you…”

6. Manage and alert during side conversations – “Hold on, we have a side conversation going on about the capability you just presented…”

7. Provide “color” commentary, as appropriate, e.g., “I want to let you know that they are all smiling and nodding their heads…!”

After the demo:

1. Debrief with the customer – face-to-face feedback provides nuances often missed via the phone.

2. Listen for “casual” conversations – what else are the audience members saying about the demo, the product, the company…

3. Afterwards, communicate this information back to the balance of the selling team.

You can train your own representatives to execute these items – or your champion/coach – by reviewing this list with them ahead of your demos. Following these practices will improve the outcome of your Remote Demos markedly!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Demo Self and Team Improvement Suggestion

Participants at Great Demo! Workshops often note that they rarely have a chance to see one another deliver demos to customers – to see and hear how colleagues present, and manage questions and situational challenges – and that this cross-exposure is often one of the most interesting outputs from Workshops.

Here’s a simple (but surprisingly effective) recommendation: schedule to do at least one “ride-along” on another team member’s demo each quarter. Ride-alongs can be done face-to-face or, much less expensively, via a remote demo using WebEx, GoToMeeting, or similar tool. The folks who participate in these sessions should also schedule time for a mutual debrief discussion: “What do we do well; what could we have done better?”

Some presales managers also include this idea as a quarterly