Monday, February 27, 2017

The Role of Sales in Great Demos

Regarding the role of sales in demos, here’s what NOT to do:

1.       Nothing.
2.       Way too much.

Let me elaborate…

Sales people have a specific and carefully choreographed role in demos when following the Great Demo! methodology.  Here are some of the key ideas for face-to-face demos:

0.       Before the demo:  ensure that sufficient Discovery information has been uncovered and communicated to the balance of the team (e.g., presales person), along with the other pre-demo information on players, timing, location, etc.
1.       Introductions:  Sales should ask the Three Questions (What is your name?  What is your job title?  What would you like to accomplish in our demo today?).
2.       Situation Slides:  Sales should present the Situation Slide(s). 
3.       Illustrations:  Not required, but desired – the best sales people can competently (and confidently) present Illustrations.  This also enables them to deliver Vision Generation demos, as well.
4.       Questions:  Sales should field and park questions, as appropriate.  (They should also be tracking what was asked and answered, so that they can be properly prepared for the Final Summary).
5.       Intermediate Summaries:  Sales should be ready to deliver summaries after each major “chunk”.
6.       Rescues:  Sales should be prepared to “rescue” the presales person, when needed (e.g., bugs, crashes, getting “lost in the weeds”, etc.).
7.       Final Summary:  The sales person should deliver the final summary, including a review of the questions asked, answers provided, and any action items to be pursued (for both the vendor and the customer).

For comparison (and amusement), here is a longer list of what NOT to do:

0.       Before the demo:  communicate little or no information to the balance of the team (e.g., presales person).
1.       Introductions of the vendor’s team, but nothing about the customer.
2.       Any corporate overview presentation that is longer than 1 slide or 1 minute.
3.       Sitting in the back of the room, doing email or texting.
4.       Not paying attention or being “present”.
5.       Piling on (adding an additional answer to every question already answered by someone else).  For a really amusing experience, get two sales people who naturally “pile on” in a demo and watch them try to out-do the other.  Great fun, if you have no desire to win the business…

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Warning:  Shameless Self-Promotion Alert!]  Great Demo! Public Workshops – Next One is May 3-4

Our next two West Coast Great Demo! Public Workshops are scheduled for May 3-4 and October 18-19 and will take place in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Sunnyvale, CA.

Registration and additional information for these Workshops can be found as follows:

-          May 3-4 Great Demo! Public Workshop – click here.
-          October 18-19 Great Demo! Public Workshop – click here.

Public Workshops are excellent opportunities for individuals, small groups or for teams that have new hires. They are 1.75-Day Workshops, with the first day focusing largely on core Great Demo! material and the second ¾ day addressing more advanced topics and techniques. 

We’ve found that these sessions are most productive when there are two or more participants from each organization – and best when a combination of sales and presales participants are present (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.

PS - If you do decide to register for San Francisco Bay Area Public Workshops and are coming from out of town, you might want to make reservations now at the hotel where the Workshop will take place or nearby, as hotels tend to fill up quickly. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Some Insights into Challenger…

A number of people have commented that “we don’t need to do Discovery” when using the Challenger sales methodology…  They are wrong!

The Challenger and Insight-oriented sales methodologies have largely come about, I believe, because marketing has failed to accomplish its job, in many organizations. Specifically, marketing has failed to move customers from “latent” pain through “awareness” of that pain to “taking action” to address the pain:

- Latent Pain:  Customer doesn’t know that he/she has the problem or it is simply one of many problems that are accepted as status quo.
- Awareness:  Customer realizes the that problem is important – and that it can and should be solved. This was often referred to as generating “hope and curiosity”.
- Taking Action:  Customer decides the problem needs to be addressed – and starts to look for solutions by exploring and contacting vendors.

Solution Selling, Sandler, SPIN and other similar sales methodologies are largely based on marketing being successful in moving customers to the point where customers are Taking Action. At this point, the customer is willing to invest time in a Discovery meeting because the customer is actively seeking a solution – that’s the key difference between Solution Selling methodologies and Challenger/Insight.

Since customers today are often not actively seeking a solution, Challenger/Insight methodologies start the sales cycle with the sales person moving the customer from Latent Pain through Awareness to Seeking a Solution. This is done through the use of “business insights”:  provocative statements and informal references of how “other, similar customers have solved their problems with xxx, which they realized were holding their organizations back in ways they had not previously understood…”

One perceived gap between Solution Selling and Challenger/Insight models is, therefore, the timing and nature of Discovery.

Challenger/Insight models correctly assume that customers are unwilling to invest time in a Discovery conversation that is designed to find pain. I’m in violent agreement with this! That’s the equivalent of the “Harbor Tour”, but done in Discovery instead of a demo.

So, the biggest difference between these sets of methodologies is the starting point for the sales cycle. Challenger/Insight models start with the assumption that the customer is not actively looking for a solution – and hence it is too early for Discovery. The customer needs to realize that there are business problems that need to be addressed, first. Solution Selling picks up the process a bit later, when the customer is actively looking for a solution, and therefore the next conversation should be one of Discovery.

Once the customer is actively Seeking a Solution, both sets of methodologies come back into alignment – the vendor has earned the right to explore the problem more deeply with the customer and a Discovery conversation can take place. Discovery still, absolutely, needs to be done – and done well!

[By the way, the statement, “Marketing has failed – and therefore sales needs to change the way it sells” – is a wonderful example of a Challenger/Insight selling provocative statement, designed to map to a high-probability problem that is faced by heads of sales. Nice!]

[Observation:  I’ve been (inadvertently) practicing the Challenger model since 2003…  The huge majority of my prospects were either unware that their demos could be (much) better and/or didn’t care, as they assumed that “that’s just the way it is…” – status quo.  

My job, early on, was to let people know that demos could be better – MUCH better – and to help prospects understand how much their traditional demos were hurting their businesses.  The articles (, webinars, book, blog postings, etc. – and particularly the “Stunningly Awful Demos” series – were crafted to provocatively move prospects from Latent Pain to Awareness to Taking Action.  I think it has worked pretty well, so far!]