Thursday, December 31, 2015

Encrispening Demos – Hard to Do But Well Worth It!

It is much harder to produce a short, crisp demo than to execute a traditional long one.  Why?  Because It requires more thought and more effort to cut something down than to leave everything in.

It doesn’t really require much thought to simply replay a traditional demo over and over (and over and over), but it takes a great deal of thought and effort to take a 90 minute traditional demo and encrispen it to 20 minutes.  What do I keep in?  What do I cut out?  What do I have ready to go, but keep behind my back until the customer asks?

The Great Demo! methodology provides the recipe for encrispening demos – to make them crisp, concise and wonderfully focused on exactly what the customer wants and needs.  The rewards for the investment in effort are tremendous:

Tangible returns reported by Great Demo! practitioners include:

-      Gains of 10% or more in improved close rates overall
-      Demo win rate increases of 25-75% have been reported
-      Reduced “No Decisions” by half
-      Reduced sales cycle length by 50%
-      Reduced of cost-of-sales by 25%
-      Reduced “wasted demos” by 50%
-      Free POC’s and evaluations transformed into paid events
-      Eliminated or reduced the need for POC’s and evaluations
-      Increased deal size and breadth by 2x – both licenses and services

Intangible Benefits are reported as well:

-      Great Demo! practitioners’ customers report a more solution-oriented, consultative, customer-centric approach from the field organization.
-      Captured and leveraged high value “Informal Success Story” information (reference stories).
-      Established positive differentiation from competitors.
-      Dramatically improved Discovery – “You really listened to us…” comments from customers.
-      And substantial improvements are often reported in communications between sales and presales, and in team practices.

Encrispening challenges aren’t limited to demos, of course, as this telegram exchange between Mark Twain and his publisher:

Publisher said:

Twain replied:

Wishing everyone Great Demos in 2016…!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Curse of Knowledge

The Curse of Knowledge is, indeed, a curse for presales and sales folks – and the seasoned veterans are at highest risk.  It comes in (at least) two flavors:  

1.       When doing Discovery – “I already know your problems and situation – so I don’t need to ask you…” 
2.       When anticipating questions – “Everyone always asks that – so I’ll pre-answer it before you ask…”

When doing Discovery, seasoned veterans know their customers better than those customers know themselves.  Customer problems and situations have been heard countless times before – so why bother to ask questions?  We already know their situation and we already know what solution is best for them, right?  The problem here is that customers believe their situations are unique – and aren’t comfortable to accept a proposed solution from a vendor who hasn’t asked enough questions of them.

Guidance?  A smart man knows the answers; a wise man knows what questions to ask…

When anticipating questions from customers, let them ask their questions (even – and especially – if you’ve heard that same question 100 times).  Pre-answering questions takes away the possibility of a conversation with the customer.  Further, there are always people who feel obligated to ask something, and if you’ve pre-answered the typical questions, you may force them to pose a question that is way out in the periphery… 

Guidance?  Have your answers prepared and ready to go – but keep those answers (metaphorically) behind your back…  When the customer asks the question, you are prepared.  You (metaphorically) take the answer from behind your back and respond to the question.  Your demo is going perfectly when the customer is asking the questions you hope and expect them to ask at that point!  

Monday, December 21, 2015

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

‘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 Problems and Reasons, 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, crusty 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 © 2005-2012 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Amusing Presales Videos

Here are a handful of amusing and/or cynical presales-related videos for your viewing pleasure:

Rockwell Turbo Encabulator:  Wonderfully produced demo spoof - 

The Expert:  Less about demos, but fun in any case -

Pre-sales Life 1.0 – sadly funny… -

A conference Call in Real Life – WebEx etc. horrors we’ve all lived through -

Subterranean Presales Blues – a bit older but fun also -

Any others to add?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Corporate Overview Presentations – Start-ups vs. Traditional Companies

[Here’s your SNOD:  Snarky Observation of the Day]

What is the difference between corporate overview presentations delivered by traditional vs. start-up companies?

Traditional Company:  It is the low-energy delivery of an unnecessary onslaught of narcissistic and tedious company and product information…
Start-up:  It is the high-energy delivery of an unnecessary onslaught of narcissistic and tedious company and product information.

Note:  As an audience member, run for the hills if you see a salesperson open a Corporate Overview Presentation that shows (in PowerPoint) “Slide 1 of 45”…!

Double Note:  For those who are inclined to comment, “But Peter, they may not know about us…” consider the following:

1.  As a customer, I wouldn’t invite you to consume an hour (or more) for a demo meeting if I didn’t already have a good understanding of your company (for example, from your website).
2.  Shouldn’t your marketing department have already broadcast this information?