Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“Demo Days” Are Becoming More Important

A common complaint amongst presales folks is that they rarely get a chance to see one another’s demos.  Individuals form habits and fall into ruts (“we are victims of momentum”), repeating demos over and over (sometimes numbingly!) with very few opportunities to improve.

Presales teams are equipping and operating out of more home offices, struggling to learn more products and technologies, dealing with an ever-increasing pace of business, and gathering at fewer face-to-face meetings (e.g., sales kick-off meetings and quarterly inquisition events, with agendas already overstuffed) – and the challenge is only getting tougher.

Carving out time for “Demo Days” accordingly becomes very much more important.  In the past, Demo Days were often face-to-face sessions where individual presales team members would share particularly successful demos, tips, best practices and introduce new products, but they often consumed ½ day or longer to make them useful, since teams didn’t get together very often. 

Now teams can accomplish the same objectives via the web using WebEx, GoToMeeting and similar tools – and by scheduling shorter, more regular sessions, teams can share ideas more rapidly and substantially improve their performance overall. 

Based on what I’ve seen with Great Demo! Workshop participants, a recommended best practice is to schedule “Demo Days” at least once per month (hmmm – perhaps we should call these new sessions “Demo Hours”).  Optimally, everyone on a team of 12 people would have a chance to present a demo about every 6 months (plan on ~2 demos per 1 hour session); everyone on the team would accordingly see 22 demos from their colleagues each year.  That’s a lot of learning…

Think about it – what you might learn from a colleague could result in closing business that might otherwise be lost…!

For teams already executing “Demo Days” or “Demo Hours”, what is your frequency, how long for each session, and how many team member typically present a demo?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Selective Attention – the Importance of Precise Pointing in Demos

Absolutely fascinating…  Take a look at this jpg (a series of three images:  paste the link in your browser and read the introduction on the first image – you can click to zoom in):  http://i.imgur.com/zCjFj94.jpg

In Great Demo! Workshops I teach participants to use a pointer (fingers/hand, stick/telescoping pointers, mouse, etc.) to direct audience attention specifically to what you want the audience to see – and pay attention to.  The question often arises, “…but won’t they look at all the other stuff on the screen, in addition to what I’m pointing to?”

Clearly, not typically!  (Apparently, only a very small fraction of people who saw this jpg noticed the unusual attributes the first time through…)

This image is courtesy of a recent Great Demo! Workshop participant who was kind enough to share it (thanks!).

Great Quote

“Never take demo advice from people who don’t have quotas…”
– from a recent Great Demo! Workshop principal.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

[Warning: Shameless Self-Promotion Alert] 2013 Great Demo! Public Workshops

For 2013, we have scheduled three Great Demo! Public Workshops, as follows:

-          March 6-7 – Registration information can be found here

-          May 22-23 – Registration information can be found here

-          October 9-10 – Registration information can be found here

These are all 1.5-Day Workshops, with the first day focusing largely on core Great Demo! material, and the morning of the second day addressing more advanced topics and techniques.

Public Workshops take place in San Jose, California, in conjunction with the folks at SKMurphy.  This is an excellent opportunity for individuals, small groups or for teams that have new hires.

We’ve found that these events are most productive when there are two or more participants from each organization (singletons are also fine). This helps to mimic real-life interactions as much as possible, both when preparing demos and delivering them in the role-play sessions.

Contact me for more information or to reserve seats (PCohan@SecondDerivative.com).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Discovery Questions – Vision of the Solution Ongoing

Discovery questions can and should not only include discussion of the desired solution as visualized for initial deployment, but might also explore looking further out in time.  Discussion might include:

-          Early “wins” and how best to achieve them (which also relieve the pressure on the buyer to have justified his/her purchase – very important!)

-          Ongoing development/maintenance/support – including product roadmaps

-          Involvement in user’s groups (and possible presentations of completed applications and achievements)

-          Further deployment, expansion or development of additional applications, etc.

-          A view as to the state of things 3-5 years out – what is the long-term vision the customer has in mind

Interestingly, in some cases a very strong vision of the customer’s future state several years out may be one of the strongest driving forces in the sales process (particularly for some industries and more so, most typically, in Europe than in the U.S.)…!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Demos – And Grocery Lists

I am constantly amazed at how vendors, in their demos, expect audiences to retain and remember the (often) enormous number of features and functions presented – particularly when human brains are rather poor at remembering undifferentiated lists of information.  For example:  Have you ever had the following happen to you?

You drive to the grocery/supermarket with a mental list of 5 items in your head.  Everything is fine until the moment you step through the door into the store, when you suddenly can’t recall 2 (or more) of the items on your mental list.  You can remember the first item or two, and perhaps the last one, but – darn it! – what were those other items?  Being presented with the hundreds of items (and advertising) seems to have knocked those middle items off of your mental list – and you often don’t recall what they were until you exit the store…

What can we do to combat this when WE are presenting demos?  Here’s a short list (additions welcome):

-          Do the Last Thing First
-          Organize your content in “chunks”
-          Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them…
-          Repeat (adults learn by repetition; adults learn by repetition; adults learn by repetition…)
-          Summarize (an elegant way of repeating)
-          Find ways to make your delivery more interesting and remarkable (see my articles “What Makes a Demo Truly Remarkable” and “We Are Programmed To Forget” on my website – or email me for copies at PCohan@SecondDerivative.com)
-          Other ideas?