Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Demo Tragedy (In 2 Acts) – And That Tragedy Could Have Been Averted

I was recently listening to a recording of a truly painful, stunningly awful demo from one of my prospects – and the more I heard, the worse it got…! 

It began poorly with a traditional corporate overview presentation that consumed the first 12 minutes, referencing and listing (among other things) that the vendor serves a broad range of markets – note that the customer operated in a single vertical and had no care about the others…

It deteriorated as the product overview began and detailed a range of options and non-relevant capabilities – including most of the words listed in (but not limited to!) the Content-Free-Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List – “flexible, comprehensive, seamless, integrated, robust, best-of-breed…”  Sigh.

The demo went stunningly awful when, after 35 minutes of actual demo, the customer interrupted and said, “You’re showing stuff that is all associated with XXX; we already have tools to deal with that.  We had asked to see how you handle YYY – would you mind moving to that?”


The demo presenter apparently had not received this information from whoever did Discovery.  Gosh – could this possibly happen?

But wait, there’s more…  The presenter could have rescued the demo at this point by (1) apologizing and then (2) asking a few Discovery questions about the YYY topic, before moving the mouse any further…  However, what do you think happened?

Sadly, the presenter simply changed scripts and commenced his “standard” demo for YYY…  Stunningly awful!  Needless to say, they didn’t get the business!

Bonus observation:  Numerous times the presenter asked, during the demo, “Any questions so far?”  After the first few times the customer simply answered, rather tersely, “Nope.”  That should have been an indication that things were not going well – and an opportunity to change!

Bonus observation #2:  For Great Demo! practitioners, the use of a Situation Slide to facilitate communications between sales and presales would have averted this tragedy...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Being "Qualified" Puts Me On the Defensive...

Want to put a prospect on the defensive?  Ask the following questions too early in an initial call:

“Is this a concrete project?”
“Do you have a budget for this?”
“What is your buying time-frame?”
“Do you have the authority to make the decision?”

I don’t know about you, but when I’m asked these questions in the first few minutes of a call with a prospective vendor (where I am the customer), I’m put off – and put on the defensive.  I grow unwilling to share information, which often forces the vendor into “show-up-and-throw-up” mode.  End result?  I don’t get qualified, Discovery isn’t done, and although I may continue to show some interest, a sale is unlikely to occur.  I’m another candidate for “No Decision”.

Try easing me into the process – ask me what I’d like to accomplish in the call (very rarely do I hear this from a vendor, amazingly enough).  As me a bit about my general situation to get a conversation started.  Ask me a bit about myself, for example (people love to talk about themselves).  Ease into asking me about my challenges and problems – why did I ask to see a demo, for example?  What specific problems am I dealing with?  Ask me some ranging questions to begin to build an understanding of the value of making a change, for me. 

In return, you might tell me how some other customers, in similar situations to what I’ve described so far, have addressed their challenges – and what gains they’ve enjoyed as a result.  Now you might ask me if we should set up a second conversation to explore my situation more fully.  If I respond, “Yes, that’s sounds good…”, then now you can explore some of the qualification questions you’ve been dying to ask:

“Is this a concrete project?”
“Do you have a budget for this?”
“What is your buying time-frame?”
“Do you have the authority to make the decision?”

Why now?  Because since you’ve invested enough time with me asking intelligent questions, listening carefully, and offering intriguing insights, now I’ll be comfortable to answer your qualification questions honestly and without guile.  You’ve earned enough of my trust that I’m willing to share this information with you.