Thursday, January 18, 2018

Guest Blogger Paul Pearce on: This may be the reason your demos are failing!

There is likely one critical reason your demos are failing!  Regardless of the sales methodology you use there is one critical sales skill that is required to win and it is paramount in every sales situation. 
As presented in Richard Smiths recent post “Demo Disasters - Why poor discovery leads to miserable fashion shows,” a company could have likely sold Richard before the demonstration began and it would have only took one small thing to do so.  This small thing happens to be critical to ensuring a great demo yet is something many sales team fails to do properly.
Discovery!  Sales Discovery when done well is one of the largest attributes to a winning demo and a successful sales campaign.  It goes beyond marching through the prescribed list of technical questions pulled from the company’s sales repository.  Great discovery questions lead the client into a deep conversation about their perceptions and opinions about how a solution will work, the implication it will have on them personally as well as what it will do for their organization.  It asks a series of insightful questions that allow the client the opportunity to share their vision. 
“My sales rep does discovery though and passes the information along.”  We always appreciate working on qualified deals so be sure to thank them for that.   As SC’s though, we need to take it a step further.  Once sales qualification and the typical Budget, Authority, Need and Timing (BANT) questions are addressed winning teams dig in further. 
There is an art form to asking questions and learning the motivations and drivers behind a client’s response.  Yet advanced questioning and discovery topics are not typically taught in SC training courses.  Applied Discovery skills are perhaps the most important criteria in becoming a high-performing senior presales professional or sales executive - and for achieving Presidents Club consistently  because it supports the artful representation of value, based upon each individuals and organizations unique needs in your solution.  It allows for the personalization of your message and demonstration.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.” – Albert Einstein
A wise (and very successful) sales mentors once told me that selling and demonstrating is one of the easiest jobs in the world.  He said that when you ask the right questions all you need to do is repeat the information back to the client.  When done effectively they will think you’re a genius.
If you are giving the same demonstration over and over again you are destined for low close rates and a churn and burn demo schedule that is ineffective.  However, if you want to take your demonstration skills to a mastery level, start with discovery and advanced questioning skills training.  It’s is the skillset that differentiates Demo Masters from median performers and the skillset you can use at any stage in your career.
To learn more about increasing win rates and mastering discovery and demonstration skills, contact the fine folks at the Second Derivative (  The Great Demo! Master Series and Master Certification Program takes the introductory Great Demo! training to the next level expanding on the concepts needed to build a Great Demo! and significantly increase your technical win rate.
Happy selling folks!

Paul H. Pearce

Monday, January 15, 2018

Some Great Demo! Implementation Suggestions

A customer recently asked, prior to a Great Demo! Workshop, for some ideas regarding implementation.  Her starting point was an assessment form to document her team’s current level of practice/performance.  Here is a version of my note back to her with a set of general suggestions…

The assessment form is a terrific starting point…  I would strongly recommend a few (well, several) additional ideas to track progress:

  1. Have your front-line managers assess their presales staff at least once before our Great Demo! training so that you can establish an initial “baseline”. 
  2. Have your managers (who join the training) then assess their presales staff again immediately after the training to establish a normalized baseline (see below for discussion).  It is also good to have discussion sessions about the differences in perspective pre- and post- training.
  3. Establish certain metrics to track for individuals and teams before and after training as well (again, see below).
  4. Collect and use Situation Slides as a measurement of executing sufficient Discovery prior to demo delivery.
  5. Track “No Decision” rates prior to and post training.

For Number 1, I put “baseline” in quotes, because prior to the training, managers and individual contributors often rank their performance better than immediately after a Workshop – they “don’t know what they don’t know” prior to the training.  You should then establish a second, post-Workshop baseline (Number 2 above) from which forward progress can be measured.

Regarding Number 3, I recommend tracking sensitive ratios such as:

  • ($’s of) Revenue/Demo Overall
  • ($’s of) Revenue/Demo by geography and/or by team
  • ($’s of) Revenue/Demo for individual presales people
  • ($’s of) Revenue/Demo for individual sales people

Over the period of a few quarters, you will most likely uncover a number of potentially surprising trends (some of which will also confirm certain gut suspicions). 

For example, overall performance of the team is shown by an increase over time of the first metric.  Similarly, you will likely find that certain teams or geographies are doing better or struggling, comparatively, yielding opportunities to coach/refresh skills, as will the metric for individual presales team members.

Tracking sales people with this metric will show which sales people are using presales resources most effectively vs. those needing coaching (or to be moved along…). 

[Background story:  The use of this metric was established by a colleague of mine who was then managing a presales team.  There was one sales person who always had a “huge opportunity” and consumed a relatively overlarge amount of presales resources, but never seemed to close near the business his colleagues did.  However, without hard data to present to the sales person’s manager, the problem simply continued (as did the perception that presales resource/time was somehow “unlimited”…).  By collecting this data, my colleague was able to show conclusively that the sales person was an anomaly, compared to his peers – and my colleague was able to convince sales management to make the necessary change…  My colleague is currently the very successful head of sales at a very major laboratory informatics company, enjoying very strong growth in his business!]

With respect to Number 4, we’ll be focusing a fair amount of attention in the Workshop on understanding and the use of Situation Slides.  These are very simple 6 element tools that enable several key deliverables:

  1. You will know that sufficient Discovery was done – that you have sufficient information to prepare and deliver a credible, focused demo.
  2. You will know that you have significantly reduced the risk of a “No decision”.
  3. You have uncovered and can then recommunicate the business value of the solution to the customer (using the customer’s numbers, best of all).
  4. You will be able to generate a library of successful sales/demo scenarios that can be used to bring new sales and presales hires up-to-speed via a set of high-probability “templates”.
  5. You will enable clear communications from sales/presales to your professional services team regarding expectations and specific success criteria for customer implementations.

Additionally, I can provide an “Assessment” spreadsheet as a starting point for drafting your own (two, actually – an “Individual” version and a “Team” version) that describe some additional attributes you might want to track – send me an email at if you’d like them.

Next, there are a number of other post-training follow-up activities that can be implemented to support and reinforce the training:

  1. I believe you already know about the Great Demo! LinkedIn Group and my blog – everyone is welcome to join the Group (it is designed to serve as an online Users’ Community).
  2. I’ll send periodic follow-up messages post-Workshop to the teams (partly to support the training and partly to help uncover success stories to rebroadcast internally – this is a separate, key topic for driving implementation…).
  3. I’m happy to join a team call or two a month or two post-Workshop, for each team.  These have proven to be very helpful in driving implementation.
  4. One-on-one coaching for individuals is also available.
  5. You should also look into using to enable your managers to coach internally – this is a really great tool, already aligned with Great Demo!

Finally, we should plan to do one or more presales managers debrief sessions – both as a “debrief” and to discuss about how to guide them to coach their teams with the methodology…

My apologies for the length of this – it is, however, an area of great importance!  (I’ll likely do more posts on this soon – let me know if you have any specific topics or questions you’d like addressed).