Monday, August 29, 2011

Passion – And Demos

(This is a brief post – but a huge topic…)  How do you keep your demos fresh, even after doing 5, 10, 20 or more demos in a month (or week!)? 

The passion we feel for what we do serves both as a source of energy and as an engine to help us make every demo unique (as far as the customer is concerned), remarkable and engaging.  The excitement we feel about our offering and the desire and ability to change the world is what often propels us, even after the 6th hour of a scripted demo. 
Harnessing and using this passion can make enormous differences in audience perception – the difference between someone simply “clicking the mouse to get the next screen…” vs. building a strong tangible vision of a solution in a customer’s mind.

Tactically, what can we do to tap into this passion?

-       Avoid pre-answering questions (let the customer ask questions that we can respond to)
-       Look for opportunities to learn something new in each demo
-       View each demo as a performance (like a performance of music or play)

Other ideas?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jobs Thoughts (Steve, that is…)

I heard three ideas over these past few days with respect to Steve Jobs’ resignation from Apple that are particularly worth sharing:

First, Steve drives an ethos that is all about the experience rather than the product.  This can be paraphrased, “Don’t sell me a product; sell me an experience!”

Next, and along those lines, one might say that Apple doesn’t have a VP of Products so much as it has a VP of Lust – that person’s objective is not to present a product to us but instead to make us lust after his or her offering! 

And finally, Charles Revlon was famously quoted as saying, “In our factories we make cosmetics, in our stores we sell hope!”  What is it that Steve Jobs has been selling these past 14 years?  He’s been selling Confidence.  The confidence of knowing that whatever you buy from apple it will be delightfully easy to use – truly intuitive – no risk, no worries about complexity, no concerns about being overwhelmed.  Now that’s a Great Demo!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Completing Situation Slides at the Demo Meeting

A number of Great Demo! Workshop participants report good success with the following tactic:  While reviewing the customer’s situation using a Situation Slide, the sales team asks the customer to fill in any gaps  before the demo itself begins.  Showing the line item with blank data has had the effect, in some cases, of the customer actually volunteering the missing information!  This has proven to be very useful when working to understand customer Critical Business Issues, the Delta, and/or Critical Dates, in particular. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Public Great Demo! Workshop

[Warning: Shameless Self-Promotion Alert!]

Our next Public Great Demo! Workshop is scheduled for October 12, 2011 in San Jose, California, co-sponsored by SKMurphy ( This is a terrific opportunity for individuals or small groups to learn how to put Great Demo! ideas into day-to-day practice. An overview, agenda, location and pricing information is available here:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don’t Let Perfection Be The Enemy of Great

Just heard this paraphrase of the classic Voltaire quote (“Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good”) in a demo.  The customer was very interested in the offering, which clearly offered terrific value, and asked about capabilities net yet implemented.  The presenter responded, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of great” as a way of telling the customer that the offering in its current form would make substantial improvements to the customer’s process and bottom line – and to move forward now rather than waiting (potentially forever!) for additional capabilities that might make it better…

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Stalker” Demos

Just heard this phrase in a recent Great Demo! Workshop:  “Stalker Demos”.  Loosely translated, it amounts to “If you don’t agree to purchase after this demo, we’ll come back again – and again – and again – and we’ll keep delivering demos until you cave in…!”

This is amusing at one level, but it is based on situations where an initial demo didn’t go well – often because the initial demo was a Harbor Tour or Show-Up-and-Throw-Up Demo – causing the vendor to request doing another, “better” demo for the customer.  Given that there are only about 220 “selling” days per year, repeating a demo meeting represents a large opportunity cost. 

I suspect that many of us have or had parents who offered the advice, “Measure twice, cut once”.  Insufficient preparation, especially with regards to performing adequate qualification and discovery, can yield these “Stalker Demo” results!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Story-telling and Demos: The Hero

As I’ve remarked previously, story-telling can be an extremely effective method to communicate key ideas – and stories can be particularly “sticky” with respect to audience memory and retention.  An additional story-telling concept is the use of a hero – someone (or something) that the audience can identify with.  Traditional stories (e.g., sagas) typically have a hero that encounters and overcomes trials and adversity before achieving success. 

For demos, heroes can take a number of forms:

- Customer (an individual):  the customer can be portrayed as the hero (very effective!), with the payoff being the timely and on-budget completion of a project, accolades from colleagues or a promotion.  In my own experiences, it was gratifying to see customers I’d worked with over a period of years move from staff members to middle managers to senior and C-level management.

- Team (a customer team or group):  The logical corollary to an individual, a team can be presented as the hero in a story.

- Product:  your software can be the hero, similarly, enabling a customer to achieve their objectives in spite of (apparently) overwhelming challenges.

- SaaS:  Interestingly, the “cloud” can be positioned and perceived as a hero – “when our  own servers went down, we were still able to complete the project thanks to the ability to access the vendor’s software from the cloud…”.  I’ve heard a number of examples where the cloud is the hero, in addition to the one above:  access to key information via collaboration tools or capabilities, disaster recovery (“and we were able to get back up and running just in time for the opening…”). 

Any other hero types or ideas to suggest?