Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Quote

“The more you say, the less I will remember.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Demo! and Stunningly Awful Demos Articles – What Have You Missed?

Over the past few years I’ve generated a fair number of articles on demos and related areas – here’s the listing in case you’ve missed any, organized by topic. 

I’d be happy to send any of these to you via email.  Alternatively, they are also available on our website at  Each article has its own page and a link to a downloadable PDF version.

Feel free to forward them on to others, as well.

Great Demo! Core Concepts

ü  The Great Demo! Top Ten List
ü  Stunningly Awful Demo Evolution- Have You Ever Seen Demos Get Shorter?
ü  Why Should a Demo Be Like a News Article?
ü  Competitive Demo Situations and "Bake-offs" – How to Bias Towards Your Strengths
ü  Stunningly Awful Demos – The Great Demo! Top Ten List of What NOT To Do
ü  Stunningly Awful Demos - Debilitating Demo Diseases
ü  Stunningly Awful Demos - Debilitating Demo Diseases Additional Afflictions
ü  Stunningly Awful Sales Prevention Demos
ü  Why Don't They Get It - Are They Stupid Or What?
ü  Attention Retention in Demonstrations
ü  Too Complex - A Demo Disaster Story
ü  Stand Away From The Mouse! - Letting Your Champion Drive

Demo-Related Topics

ü  What Makes a Demo Truly Remarkable?
ü  Demo Capital - Underutilized, Undervalued and Often Insufficient
ü  Stunningly Awful SaaS Demos - Lost in the Clouds
ü  Storytelling and Demos
ü  Are You a Demo Expert? Why Experts Should Feel Uncomfortable
ü  We Are Programmed to Forget - And Its Impact on Our Demos
ü  Four Opportunities to Harvest- The Value of Informal Success Stories
ü  Transition Vision - "We Love It - But How Are We Going To Get There?"
ü  The Database Break-Even Point

Remote Demos

ü  Stunningly Awful Remote Demos – The Top Ten List of Inflicting Pain at a Distance
ü  Remote Demos - The Role of the Active Conduit
ü  Remote Demonstrations - What Can We Do Better?
ü  Demos to Mixed Local and Remote Audiences – Tips to Handle Combination Situations

RFP’s, Scripted Demos, POC’s, Trials and Evaluations

ü  Stunningly Awful Demo Situations - The Horror of Scripted Demos
ü  Stunningly Awful Software Evaluations - A Strategy of Hope?

Team Topics

ü  Death By Corporate Overview
ü  Stunningly Awful Demos Team Practices - Where 1 + 1 = 0

New Product Roll-out

ü  Selling to Your Sales Force – The Toughest Customer of All - Product Launch Demos
Presentation and Delivery Tips

ü  The Meaningless-Filler Gratuitous-Phrases Vocabulary List
ü  The Content-Free Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List

Growth and Development

ü  Demo Skills Assessment - Do It Now
Recorded and Website Demos

ü  Auto-Demo Hell
ü  More Auto-Demo Hell - A "Customized" Recorded Demo?

Trade-show Tactics

ü  Trade Show Demonstrations - The Menu Approach
Just For Fun

ü  'Twas the Night Before the Big Demo

My next article will likely explore Discovery issues and challenges (another in the Stunningly Awful Demos series) – if you are not already on our emailing list, please let me know if you’d like to receive it.

Additionally, let me know if there are other topics you’d like to see explored in an article!

Monday, October 24, 2011

RFP Responses – When to Pull Back

Far too often vendors invest incredible amounts of resources in RFP responses and resulting Scripted Demos – even when they know they have little (or no) chance of success.  If your organization wins fewer than 50% of the RFP’s you respond to, you may want to consider making a change to find better investments for your team’s time and energy. 

If you believe you are in a poor position in an RFP response process and none of your requests for gaining access to the customer for a Discovery conversation or re-ordering the script have been permitted, consider pulling back – saying “No” to the customer.  [Gasp!] 

Here’s why you might want to contemplate this strategy (particularly before investing additional time and substantial effort in a demo competition):

You may be on the customer or consultant’s list of vendors to show that they covered a sufficient number of vendors before making their decision – even though the decision had already gone to the vendor who is first on the list.  This is known as being “Column Fodder” (from Solution Selling).  Corollary:  Be First!

You may not have sufficient capabilities in your offering, particular in comparison with your competition. 

Be honest with yourself – if you don’t have a reasonable chance, then don’t invest the resources.  Don’t “live in the land of hope”…!  If you don’t really have a reasonable chance to win the business, then decline the competition – and invest your team’s time and energy in sales projects that have a higher expectation of success. In these cases, it may be better to fail fast, fail early, and fail cheaply…

Consider Pulling Back When:
  • You are clearly not column “A” – the RFP was clearly written for another vendor
  • You’ve had no access to the customer for Discovery conversations – the resulting RFP is simply a list of features and functions without context
  • The RFP response time was too limited – this suggests that a decision has already been made for another vendor, but the customer’s purchasing process requires multiple vendors be “evaluated”
  • There was no ability to change or modify the RFP – again this suggest that the customer has already made a decision in favor of another vendor
  • There was no ability to change or modify the demo script – this could be an effort on the part of the customer to establish a “level playing” field – or it may favor another vendor’s offering
  • These is no clear Critical Business Issue – the sales opportunity may like end in “no decision”
  • There is no Critical Date or Event by when the customer needs to have a solution in place - ditto
Many vendors report that when they do Pull Back and say “No”, customers often come back to the vendors to ask the vendor to participate!

Accordingly, be prepared to negotiate for what you want if the customer says, in response, “But we need you to participate”.  Define and know what you want to ask for.

For example:
  • Access to the customer/business players/key users
  • Ability to rearrange the script
  • Adding rows to the RFP – that are included in a subsequent revision

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Metrics – Why We Need To Include the Denominator

In addition to earlier posts, here’s a simple idea:  make sure to include an appropriate (or more complete) denominator in measurements.  A richer denominator enables you to measure effectiveness; the numerator only measures activity.

The example I love to use is to compare: 

“Demos Completed per Quarter”:  Measures activity only (and often results in a negative spiral of “we need more demos so that we have enough pipeline to meet our numbers…”).


“Demos Completed per Quarter per $ of Revenue”:  measures the effectiveness of the team’s demos in securing business.

Expanding on this:

“Demos Completed per Quarter per $ of Revenue on a per-salesperson basis”:  measures the effectiveness of individual sales people in the use of demos in their sales opportunities.  This does assume that other variables are largely independent, which may or may not be true.  There may need to be some level of normalization done to be able to compare sales people’s performance (e.g., quota size, average order size, etc.).


“Demos Completed per Quarter per $ of Revenue on a per-presales-person basis”:  measures the effectiveness of individual presales people in the execution of demos.  Again, this also assumes that other variables are largely independent.  Similarly, normalization may need to be done to compare presales people’s performance (e.g., was discovery done adequately, quota size, average order size, etc.).

Tracking these kinds of metrics over time provides managers (and individuals) with tools to coach and tune the overall organization’s effectiveness, on an individual-by-individual, region-by-region, or overall team basis.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Improv Comedians – and Demos

I was told that only 2% of comedians can do improv comedy successfully…  Everyone else practices their acts constantly – I’d say that the same principle applies to demos.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Remote Demos – Pause Sharing at End

Here’s a simple safety tip:  at the close of a Remote Demo or Webinar, “pause” sharing of your application or desktop.  This offers two advantages:

First, you minimize the risk or showing something you did not mean to show to your audience – for example, flipping over to read email or updating your Facebook page while still sharing your desktop(!).

Second, you can freeze the screen with an Illustration showing or other “payoff” screen (could be a Menu showing items completed in the demo, could be an Illustration, could be a summary slide, etc.).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Simple Sales Process Metrics for Demos

Here are a few sales process metrics to consider tracking that will enable managers and individuals to understand where there are problems or challenges (e.g., with the process overall and/or individual sales or presales staff).  These same can be used to help drive implementation of Great Demo! methods after initial training has been completed:

For each sales opportunity:

- Was the opportunity the result of receiving an RFP?  (If “Yes”, then treat these separately – see below.)
- Was Discovery done?
    • Was a complete Situation Slide generated for each key player? 
- Was a Great Demo! done?
    • Or was the demo a “Harbor Tour”?
- What was the outcome (close, loss, no decision)?  (A “no decision” could be defined, for example, as an opportunity that did not close in the forecasted quarter…)

Tracking these over each quarter will enable teams to determine, very rapidly:

1.  The impact of completing Discovery (vs. not), with respect to closed business.
2.  The impact of Great Demo! demonstrations vs. Harbor Tours on achieving closed business.
3.  Who is or who is not doing Discovery.
4.  Who is or who is not doing Great Demos! vs. Harbor Tours.

For opportunities from RFP’s: 

1.  Were we “Column A” (were we first or the favored vendor)?
2.  Were we able to perform Discovery?
3.  Were we able to change the order of a resulting Scripted Demo?
4.  If “No” to 2 and/or 3, did we “Pull Back”?

Similarly, tracking these will enable teams to determine, very rapidly:

1.  When to say “Yes” vs. “No” to RFP response requests.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Methodology Implementation – Metrics Matter (Very Much!)

6 to 1 – that’s the ratio of closed sales opportunities using Great Demo! vs. “Harbor Tours”, as tracked by one Great Demo! Workshops customer.  More specifically, he reports that for business that closed during a 12 month period, 62 sales projects used Great Demo! demo Discovery/prep and delivery methods vs. 9 sales projects where Discovery was deemed insufficient and the resulting demos were Harbor Tours.  Sales projects ranged from approximately $200K - $1.5M in deal size.

Equally interesting were the numbers reported for “No Decision” outcomes:  For those sales projects that had a complete Situation Slide for each key player, No Decisions ran at less than 10%.  For sales projects that had incomplete Situation Slide information No Decision rates were above 60% (ick).

How was this information used?  There were two very interesting process changes that took place, as a result:

First, it was mandated by senior sales management that adequate Discovery information be uncovered prior to scheduling a demo – specifically including assessment of Situation Slides prior to agreement to proceed with a demo.  (There were some loopholes for extenuating circumstances, but the gross majority of demos are now preceded by what is considered to be adequate Discovery).

Second, sales pipeline measurements were changed.  Previously, sales people were incented to schedule demos (as many as possible) as a key indicator of overall pipeline activity – which had resulted in a negative feedback spiral of doing more and more unproductive demos, resulting in less closed business per demo, causing management to increase the number of demos per sales person per quarter to try to increase pipeline.  After reviewing the numbers from above, sales management changed “number of demos scheduled/completed per sales person” to “number of demos completed per sales person per $ of revenue” – a very clever way of measuring the effectiveness of demo preparation and delivery.

The bottom line?  This particular team will be having one terrific “President’s Club/Sales Kickoff” in a wonderful location next January!