Monday, February 29, 2016

How Much of Your Demo Is "Set-up Mode" (And Why Is This Painful)?

I was recently watching a series of demos presented by a vendor to their customers and noted two rather astonishing things:

Astonishing Thing Number 1:  Approximately 50% of the elapsed time of the demo was done showing “Set-up Mode” items (setting up the environment, configuring the application, editing and creating templates, etc.).  [These demos ranged 60-90 minutes long.]
Astonishing Thing Number 2:  At the end of all this Set-up Mode activity, the vendor noted that, ”Of course, you won’t have to do any of this – we generally take care of it as part of implementation, done by our Professional Services team…”

Rhetorical Question:  Why did they show the Set-up items at all? 
Rhetorical Answer:  Because they (and we) are Victims of Momentum – we tend to do the same things the same way over and over, unless someone gives us a serious shove in a new direction.

Rhetorical Question:  What is the impact on the customer of seeing all of the that Set-up Mode stuff? 
Rhetorical Answer:  It makes the software look waaaaaay too complicated.
Cynical Rhetorical Question:  I’ll bet you’ve never heard that phrase before, from a customer…!

Recommendation:  Put the Set-up Mode portions of your demos “behind your back” – only bring them out in response to specific questions from your customer.  Focus on the key deliverables and the business value those deliverables provide your customer (“Illustrations”, in Great Demo! vocabulary).  intriguingly, it is likely that you can answer most Set-up Mode questions verbally, without ever moving your mouse.

How much of your current demos are Set-up Mode?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Start Your Demo in Email...?

Here’s a non-obvious tip:  start your demo in email, showing an “unopened” email message – which could contain or link to an alert, report, or notification of some kind.  Opening the email and clicking the link, for example, takes the user to the details of the alert or opens the report for examination (for Great Demo! practitioners, these are likely good candidates for Illustrations).  Why start in email?

In spite of vendors’ desires, most users spend most of their time in two applications.  What are they?

-          Email
-          Web browser

Intriguingly, most vendor software demos ignore that reality and present a vision of customer users operating largely in the vendor’s software.  While there may be some packages where this is the case, the sad reality is that most users spend their work-day lives reading and responding to email and searching, reading and browsing on the internet (some of which may even be for legitimate business purposes!) . 

Do the experiment yourself:  what percent of each work day would you say you spend in which applications?  In my case (probably representative of a typical sales person, sales manager or CEO of a small business), the breakdown is something like:

- Email:              40%
- Browser:          30%
- Excel:              10%
- Word:              10%
- PowerPoint:      5%
- Other Apps:      5%

For many software products, once they are installed and configured, they are only accessed when there is an issue to resolve, exception to explore, or report to review.  Why not map to that day-to-day paradigm, accordingly?  If your offering sends email messages that contain important alerts, exceptions, or reports, consider starting your demo with an example unopened email that then takes the user into the product or shows the desired report.

Very simple, very elegant!

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Vanilla" vs. "Custom" Demos in Some Organizations - The Difference?

What’s the difference between “Vanilla" vs. "Custom" Demos in some organizations?

The “Vanilla” demo is a script, created by the vendor, designed to show a “typical” workflow or “day-in-the-life” for a customer, typically showing as many “important” features as possible in a demo that runs 30 minutes or more.

The “Custom” demo is that SAME demo, but with additional emphasis on the features uncovered as “needs” during Discovery or qualification. 

It would be like going to shop for a car, as follows:

Case 1 (“Vanilla”):  A couple walk into a car dealership showroom and the salesperson takes the couple on a tour of the entire line of cars, spending 5-10 minutes at each (compact, sedan, SUV, mini-van, truck and sports coupe).

Case 2 (“Custom”):  A couple walk into a car dealership showroom and tell the salesperson, “We are interested in SUV’s…” and the salesperson STILL takes the couple on a tour of the entire line of cars, spending 5-10 minutes at each (compact, sedan, SUV, mini-van, truck and sports coupe), but with stronger emphasis of the key features of the SUV.

Moral?  Don’t do that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Terrific Coaching Tool for Web-Delivered Demos

What are the main challenges for managers who wish to coach their team members’ delivery of demos?  (And for team members who desire to improve?)

-          Lack of available time to join demos delivered over the web
-          Hard to find time with team members to discuss and give feedback
-          Really hard to be consistent in delivering feedback
-          Hard to track what specific feedback was delivered
-          Hard to be quantitative and hard to normalize across a set of individuals or teams
-          Really hard to track progress for individuals (and teams) over time

[Coaching is tough to do and tough to do well, in spite of it being one of the most important tasks for a manager…]

So…  What if there was a tool that enabled managers to provide feedback to their team members for web-delivered demos (e.g., using WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc.)?  What if it offered the ability to deliver coaching feedback asynchronously, independent of manager/team member availability?  What if it offered consistent coaching guidelines and attributes – and the ability to assign numeric rankings?

Well, check it out:  the fine folks at ( ) have an offering that does this – and does it well.

But wait, there more…!  Here’s an example of the tool in real-life use:  Richard Smith at Refract did a demo for me, which he recorded (I’m playing the manager of an inside sales team at a software company in this demo).  He then sent me the recording and I played the role of his manager, offering feedback on his demo – I’ve annotated the demo with my comments, using a Great Demo! coaching example template. 

Here’s the link to the annotated recording for your viewing pleasure:

The column on the left shows my coaching observations; the right hand side of the screen has Richard’s embedded recording with a “play/pause” button on its bottom left.  Clicking “play” will play his demo.  As it plays, you’ll see my coaching comments appear beneath the recording pane (you may need to scroll down, depending on your screen size). 

Alternatively, you can jump from comment to comment by clicking on the items in the observations column (e.g., “Introduction”, “Situation Slide Elements”, “Shallow vs. Deep”, etc.).   This reduces playback time for the team member significantly, as he/she can jump from comment to comment and not have play the entire recording – nice!

Would love to hear your feedback on the tool…