Thursday, December 29, 2016

Getting Better?

This could be titled, “Do you REALLY want to get better at what you do – or are you fooling yourself…?”

I had an interesting conversation with a presales manager recently regarding helping his team get better at what they do (wrt demos, in particular).  He recently took over managing an existing team of presales folks, most of whom had been in their roles for several years – they were largely “seasoned veterans”. 

In a series of discussions with the individual members about their current practices and improvement, they ALL said “Yes, I want to improve my skills; I’d like to get better at what I do.”  However, when they were presented with the idea of establishing a baseline using a set of metrics and then using those metrics to help identify areas for improvement, many “pushed back” and said they didn’t like the idea of using measurements.


How can we really get better at a skill if don’t measure our performance? 

Note:  it is NOT helpful for sales people to simply say, “Great job…” to their presales counterpart after a demo.  At best, that “feedback” will result in simply maintaining the status quo.  Specific feedback, particularly around areas that can be measured is what will help us improve.

Here are some example demo performance measurements, as a starting point for this discussion:

High Level (Note that much of this data is likely already in your CRM tool…):
-        -  $ of Revenue per demo, per presales person.
-        -  $ of Revenue per demo, for the overall presales team.
-        -  $ of Revenue per demo, per sales person.
-        -  $ of Revenue per demo, for the overall sales team.
-        -  Order amount divided by the number of demos needed to close the order (again on an individual and team basis).
      - Conversion Rate (Demos to closed business).

More Specific Skills Improvement Areas (Here is a starter list):
-         - Number of times we communicate the benefit of a capability.
-         - Number of times we communicate the business value [even better].
-         - Number of clicks to complete a specific task.
-         - Time between questions from audience members (is this a firehose demo or a conversation).
-         - Number of “pre-answered” questions.
-         - Time spent doing Discovery vs. in the demo.
-         - Number of stories used per demo.
-         - Number of analogies or metaphors used per demo.
-         - Number of times away from the software – e.g., using a whiteboard, using props or visual aids.
-         - Number of times we invite the customer to drive during the demo.

Comments?  Observations?  Suggestions? 

Monday, December 19, 2016

‘Twas the Night Before the Big Demo - A Hopeful Holiday Poem

‘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, (like an onion),
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 © 2005-2016 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dealing with “Day-in-the-Life” Demos

A colleague once cynically commented, in response to a request for a “day-in-the-life” demo, “Give me a week and I can show you a day-in-the-life…”  Very clever, but still painful!  Day-in-the-life demos are challenging, so here are some Great Demo! principles you can apply:

First, if you have a mixed audience consisting (for example) of high-ranking executives,  middle managers and staffers, DO NOT start with a day-in-the-life from the staffers’ perspective.  Why?  Execs will (quietly) walk out and middle managers will visualize your software as complicated.  Follow Great Demo! methodology and present to the execs first, then the managers – and then the staffers, after the higher ranking folks are satisfied.  (You can use the concept of “teasers” to let each group know what Good Things are in store for them as the overall meeting progresses.)

Next, Situation Slides and Illustrations very much still apply.  Using a Situation Slide to confirm the customer’s situation (and desired gains and outcomes) is an excellent starting point for any day-in-the-life demo segment.  Illustrations can and should be used to summarize and/or confirm the desired outcome(s) and end results of these workflows.

Now consider the following ideas:  
1.       Fewest number of clicks:  ALWAYS applicable.  Nobody wants their day-in-the-life to take a week!  
2.       Break things into “chunks”.  Just as people take breaks throughout a workday, you should break the overall workflow up into logical chunks as well.  
3.       Use a Roadmap or agenda to help manage the process, keep the audience (and you) organized, and to enable you to “chunk” with discrete beginnings and ends to tasks and subtasks. 
4.       Introduce the segment at the beginning; summarize at the end.  
5.       Avoid using “If”, “Or”, and “Also” – these words branch your demo and make it MUCH longer than it needs to be…  
6.       Instead, let the audience ask, “Can it do xxx?” and “How do you do yyy?”  Turn the demo into a conversation, rather than a firehose!  
7.       Use a Menu to prioritize chunks and portions of the workflow(s), when possible.  No need to invest 50 minutes at the beginning with a workflow segment that is of least interest to the audience.  
8.       When possible, take a lesson from Julia Child and show the end product (the fabulous roast turkey/beef/lamb/pork/tofu, ready to be carved) to get the audience’s juices flowing, then start the workflow and follow it for a few steps (get the roast into the oven) – and then jump towards the end to finish the workflow.  You may not need to show all of the intermediate steps (do you really want to watch a turkey roast for 6 hours?).   
9.       Mouse smoooooooooothly and deliiiiiiiberately.  Avoid Zippy Mouse Syndrome (unless you really want to make your software look complicated).  
10.   Let a member of the audience drive, under your guidance.  This will help to prove ease-of-use and make the segment much more engaging…!

Any other suggestions?