Monday, January 30, 2012

21 Clicks Is Too Much – Stop the Demo!

Yes, people do count clicks during demos – and this is the true, brief horror story of too many clicks (I heard this from a recent Great Demo! Workshop participant): 

During a demo – and not very far into it, the head of a group of National Account Managers suddenly said, “Stop the demo – 21 clicks is too much!”  And that was the end of that sales opportunity…

His point was very simple:  any task that takes 21 clicks to complete is probably going to be too difficult and too complicated to do for the average person (and in this particular case the audience and expected users were sales people…).  For this senior manager, 21 clicks was (beyond) his threshold for an acceptable number of steps for this particular task. 
The moral? 

Take that path that is the fewest number of steps to complete the task. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

“Before I demo to you, why don’t you demo to me…?”

“Before I demo to you, why don’t you demo to me what you are currently using?”  If a customer has an existing software system, this can be a wonderful way to understand the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in their current system – particularly from the customer’s point of view.  They’ll tell you what they like, what they hate, what’s missing and a range of other delightful Discovery information.

Additionally, this also inverts the traditional process of the vendor presenting to the customer, to one of the customer presenting to the vendor – an experience often remembered by the customer as remarkable and interestingly different!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Practice Your Mouse Movements… All The Time!

For some people presenting demonstrations, moving the mouse smoothly and deliberately occurs naturally.  For others, it can be a real challenge!  Here’s a quick tip:  practice moving your mouse as if you are delivering a demo all of the time.  The “muscle memory” associated with constant practice will reward you when you are in the heat of a tough demo – and can’t invest time to think about how best to move your mouse.   

When we are mousing for ourselves, our mouse movements tend to follow the motion of our eyes.  So, if we are hunting for a specific command or tool, as our eyes flit back and forth across the screen so does our mouse!  Instead, think (first) about where we want the mouse to go, then move it smoooooothly and deliberately to that specific location.  And don’t move it again until you’ve identified the next specific destination…!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Novel Thought About Screening Candidates For Presales Positions

How do we assess the skills and competence of candidates for presales positions?  I look carefully at resumes, but there is a wonderful expression that “you are perfect twice in your life:  once when you are born and the second time on your resume…”  References are important, of course, as are typical interview questions.   However, I like to ask candidates for three additional opportunities to evaluate them:

1.       Ask them to do a presentation on a subject near and dear to their hearts to evaluate their ability to “tell” (many hiring managers do this today).

2.       Ask them to perform a Discovery session with you, on a topic they know intimately such as their current company’s offerings, to evaluate their ability to “ask”.  This is rather novel, I think, and may help to uncover presales people that are particularly strong at doing Discovery.

3.       As them to present a demo based on what they learned in their Discovery session with you, to see how well they listened and incorporated what they learned into their demo – and to evaluate their demo-specific delivery skills (extra points for structuring their demo in a Great Demo! format, of course!).

This strategy gives you an opportunity to evaluate candidates’ ability to “tell”, “ask”, “listen”, and “show”. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Early January Is Demo Skills Assessment Time!

The start of the New Year… what a terrific time to perform an assessment of your own or your team’s demo skills!  Doing an assessment now establishes a baseline for measuring change and improvement during the course of the year – and it only takes about 10 minutes per assessment.

For Yourself:  Do an assessment of yourself.  Have your manager do an assessment of you.  Have your peers do assessments of their perceptions of your skills.  Then compare…

For Your Team:  Do the same process, essentially – have each team member do an assessment of their own skills; do assessments yourself of each member’s skills; and consider having peers do assessments of one another.

In addition to establishing a baseline for the year, gaps that are uncovered between individuals, peers and managers can be quite illuminating and represent opportunities for discussion, coaching, mentoring or other skills development possibilities ([warning:  shameless self-promotion alert!]  e.g., Great Demo! Workshops, Master Classes, Coaching, etc.).

When should you do your next assessment?  I’m glad you asked that question…  Next year?  Far too long between assessments to be of sufficient value.  Twice per year?  Still too infrequent.  I’d recommend re-assessing skills every 2, 3, or 4 months and setting small, incremental goals for improvement accordingly (by the way, there is nothing sacred about quarters for skills development – sometimes picking an interval that is NOT tied to quarters can be much more effective!).

Where can you find a good demo skills assessment template to use (or to use as a starting point)?  Feel free to send me an email at and I’ll send you ready-to-use (also new and improved!) demo skills assessments for individuals and/or for teams.  You are welcome to use these directly or edit as desired.