Wednesday, December 21, 2011

‘Twas the Night Before The Big Demo

‘Twas the Night Before The Big Demo
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

‘Twas the night ‘fore the demo and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, ‘cept my SC and his mouse;
I’d proposed a big licensing deal with great care
In hopes a big order soon would be there;

Management was restless and not in their beds
As visions of bonuses danced in their heads;
And my VP with his forecast and me with my own,
Had just started a long EOQ roam,

When out from my mobile there came a great ring-tone,
I sprang from my chair to answer my phone,
What could it be?  Was it good news or no?
A last-minute order?  A contract?  PO?

Greetings, said my assistant, who spoke on the line,
It was someone to see me, offering help at this time!
Who could it be at this late eleventh-hour,
To make the deal sweet and avoid something sour?

Away to the door I flew in a flash,
And swept it open in my quest for fast cash,
When who to my wondering eyes should appear,
The DemoGuru! And standing so near!

He came in my office and, while dusting off snow,
Said, “I have some news that you’ll want to know.”
He drew up a chair and asked for some tea,
And said to my VP, SC and to me:

“Your deal is in trouble and I’ll tell you now,
Your demo’s confusing, complex and lacks ‘Wow!’
It’s riddled with features and functions and more,
And too many cool things, mouse clicks galore,

Don’t flog them with features and other neat stuff,
Stick with the substance, stay away from the fluff,
The more that you show is not always nice,
Customers may say, ‘Please lower the price!’

The Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary list,
Are words, I’m afraid, that are better-off missed,
Not Flexible, nor Powerful, nor Easy-to-Use,
Not Robust, nor Seamlessly Integrated abuse,

And no corporate overview, please don’t do that,
After ten minutes they’re grabbing their hats,
Present as a team, so if things get hairy,
Sales folks aren’t lost in the back with Blackberry.

Your customer’s queued and ready to go,
They love the vision you’ve built with them so
They want Technical Proof in the demo you’ve planned,
Just the key capabilities, everything else banned.”

“But how can we do this?” I heard myself cry,
“We’re victims of momentum, we’re nervous to try,
Another approach, a new way to go,
We have to admit we’re just a bit slow!”

“Do the Last Thing First!” he said with a smile,
“Then peel back the layers, and Do It with style,
Peel it back in accord with their interest,
Stay focused and execute, and you’ll find it best,

Your customer’s Situation is a great way to intro,
Their Reasons and needs, from CBI flow,
Review these and check – is this still the case?
Are we aligned or are we off-base?

Start with the end, that big pay-off piece,
Illustrate and describe, those are the keys!
Capture their interest, compel their attention,
Make sure it aligns with their mode of consumption.

When it clicks and they’re hooked, they’ll then ask for more,
There’s absolutely no way that they’ll head for the door,
They’ll say, “Please show us, prove that it’s so,
Show us the rest, please do demo.”

Then Do It, just Do It, with no extra clicks,
To return to that Illustrative image that sticks,
Make it simple, make it fast, make it easy and clear,
Then they will realize they’ve nothing to fear,

Encourage their questions, most are not new,
Good ones and Great ones and Stupid ones too,
Treat Hostiles with courtesy, use your Parking Lot so
Those mean, nasty folks can’t damage your flow,

Peel back the layers, Do It Again,
Show only what’s needed, put nothing else in,
Let them drive the demo, let them think they’re in charge,
While their Vision Solution you work to enlarge!

Summarize, summarize, tell them again,
‘Cause adults do learn by repetition,
And when you show a key take-away screen,
Leave it up, let it linger, so they’ll know what they’ve seen!
“I get it – I’ll do it!” exclaimed my SC,
“This is all so obvious, it’s way clear to me!”
And he sprang into action, his mouse flew like lightening,
(Frankly, his speed was a little bit frightening!)

And with that the DemoGuru smiled and he said,
“Your way is now clear, put that baby to bed,
Your deal’s now on track, your order secure,
You’ll make your numbers at the end of the year,

Then he strode from my office in a blink of a pun,
Turned ‘round and he said, “My job here is done,”
Ere he drove out of sight, I did hear him say,
“Great Demo! to all and to all a Great Day!”

Copyright © 2005-2010 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Many Slides Long IS It?

As someone starts up PowerPoint (or Keynote) and opens their presentation, have you ever noticed that you rapidly scan to see how many slides long it is?  And what is your reaction when you realize that the deck is 30, 40 or more slides long, and the individual slides look rather thick with text, data and charts?  Terror?  Denial?  Acceptance and preparation for boredom?


If you are the presenter, don’t let them see your slide deck in any preview mode that shows the length – or (much better) trim it down to the actual number of slides that are really needed (and/or that can be consumed by your audience).

If you are an audience member and the presentation is scheduled for an hour or more, prepare yourself accordingly!  (E.g., think of synonyms for “boredom”; write haiku poems on painful presentations – and don’t forget the “seasonal reference” required in real haiku; have a smart-phone ready and out of sight for some surreptitious web browsing, etc…)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Words We Choose To Use...

We should be cognizant about our audiences’ backgrounds, training and educational/cultural experiences and perceptions, because the words we use in our demo delivery (and Discovery conversations) can have strong impact on perceptions of our offerings and solutions. 

 In a study done on potato chip bag labeling, it was found that there were two general types of packaging, with respect to vocabulary:

The first used 8th grade vocabulary and focused on appearing to be “plain-speaking” and “genuine” – these packages were for lower-end chips (Lays, Utz, etc.) and targeted buyers of same.

The second packaging used 10th-11th grade vocabulary with phrases like “hand-raked” and “crafted” – this packaging was used for the higher-price chips (Boulder, Kettle, Terra, etc.). 

Not surprising, perhaps, but fascinating in any case!

The study was done by Dan Jurafsky, at the Stanford University Department of Linguistics.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Demos and Discovery – Interesting Metric

For those who like to track things, here’s an interesting demo success metric to consider:  compare the amount of Discovery done prior to a demo (in minutes) to demo length (also in minutes).  One should expect the ratio of these will typically be >1 for successful demos – those that result in a sale (or movement to the next stage in the sales process).  For organizations that choose to track this, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the ratio is actually >>1 (much much greater than 1) for demos that result in a sale…!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“Slide Number 37…”

It fascinates me that in so many sales-oriented technical presentation slide decks, the biggest “pay-off” or “Wow!” slide appears about 7/8 of the way through the deck…

Friday, December 2, 2011

“Ask the Author” Office Hours

I’ve found that providing question-and-answer sessions to Great Demo! Workshop participants a few months post-event has been very effective in helping teams and individuals to implement the ideas and improve personal practices. I’d like to propose offering these to the broader Great Demo! community.

Specifically, I’d like to suggest setting up regular conference calls that anyone in the community can join.  We might schedule these to occur on a monthly basis, for example, and have each call run an hour in duration.  Participants could send me topics ahead of time or voice them during the call.  I’d expect we would discuss and share success stories, challenging situations, questions, tips and ideas on demos and closely related topics.

These could be, essentially, informal users’ group meetings.

If you are interested, please send me an email at, along with any suggestions or preferences on how to make this work well.  We can then look at specific timing and mechanics.