Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“Overview” and “Intro” Demos – Is There an Effective, Less Time-consuming Alternative?

Why, yes there is!  Call it “Interactive Demo Automation…”

Far too many demos are delivered as a standard or semi-standard “overview” or “introduction” – often presented by skilled, experienced and comparatively expensive presales staff.  Unfortunately, these demos could be (sometimes are?) delivered half-asleep, as many are presented the same way, over and over. 

Overview and intro demos often consume 20-50% of the overall demo “load” for presales teams.  Would you like some of that time back for more valuable work?  (Just say, “Yes!”)

What if there was a terrific tool that could deliver these overview/intro demos in an automated, consistent fashion – yet still adapt and map to specific customer interests?  Well, there is.

The fine folks at Consensus (www.goconsensus.com) offer exactly that – an automated, customized demo.  Is that possible?  (Just say, “Yes!” again)

When a customer starts the “demo”, he or she is presented with a choice of job titles and asked to choose the best fit.  For example:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Presales
  • Channel
  • Enablement

Right away, the software is enabling the customer to self-qualify, while the back-end tracks the choices… 

Next, based on job title choice, the customer is presented with a list of 5-7 topics and asked to categorize each as

  • Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Not Important

The tool then assembles a semi-custom demo based on the selections.  For items identified as “Important”, the customer is shown a 2-minute segment on that topic.  For items marked “Somewhat Important”, the customer sees a 30-second portion.  And for those items classified as “Not Important” the tool presents …wait for it… nothing!  What a delight!

So, the customer specifies his or her job title as well as the particular areas and level of interest for each.  The resulting demo maps directly to these choices, giving the customer a semi-tailored overview/intro to the offering.  Frankly, this may be better than a live presales person delivering the same “standard overview demo” over and over. 

But wait, there’s more…! 

The tool tracks all of the choices, along with what is actually watched by the customer, providing the you with insight into the customer’s interests.  Fabulous!

In Great Demo! Workshops, we teach how to use the Menu Approach and Vision Generation demos as self-rescue methods in live demo situations where the customer has asked for an “overview”; the Consensus tool can replace the need to do many of these sessions.

Why am I such a fan of the Consensus tool?  Because it is the first (and only?) recorded demo offering that applies Great Demo! methodology – and the Menu Approach, in particular – and does it well.

So, if you find that significant portion of your time is consumed with intro and overview demos, you should seriously consider the Consensus tool – and use that time for other, more valuable tasks.

Check it out…!

PS – I am such a fan of Consensus that I’ve scheduled a Great Demo! Public Workshop to take place in conjunction with the Consensus folks on June 13-14 in the Salt Lake City area (think “Silicon Slopes”).  You can find pricing, registration and additional information for this Workshop here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tell Them (3X) – But Do We?

“Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you just told them…” 

We are often provided with this sage advice (for delivering any message, not just for demos).  Aristotle taught this idea over 2300 years ago – and people are still trying to remember to follow his advice!  Interestingly (and perhaps a bit sadly) I rarely see people actually put this advice into practice in demos.

Why?  I’m not sure, but most likely because we are rarely trained do it (other than in Great Demo! Workshops, of course).  Here’s what happens in typical demos:

“Tell them what you are going to tell them…” 

This is generally done as part of an agenda at the very beginning of a demo.  Very good, nice start.  But if the demo lasts longer than 20 minutes and/or has multiple segments, your audience won’t remember the overall plan.  Similarly, presenters generally don’t summarize at the close of a segment (see below) or do anything to introduce the next segment – they just dive right in. 

Solution #1:  Return to your agenda at the end of each segment – have it available as a PowerPoint slide, for example.  Use it to remind you to summarize at the end of the segment – then pause, to give time for the audience to take it in and formulate any questions – before introducing the next segment.

Solution #2:  Remind yourself to introduce each segment at the beginning of each segment.  Many demonstrators ask, “Any questions so far?” when they have completed a segment – simply remind yourself to follow this by doing the intro for the next segment this (once any questions have been addressed).  You can use the “Any questions…?” inquiry as a trigger to prompt the intro.  Once you’ve done this a dozen times you’ll have formed a good habit and you’ll continue to do these segment intros naturally. 

“Tell them…”

OK, this is the easy one – this is what presenters do in their traditional demos.  The sad news is that most presenters never leave this mode!

“Tell them what you just told them…” 

As noted above, most presenters simply move “seamlessly” from segment to segment:  “…And the next really cool thing I want to show you is…” (as the mouse whizzes around the screen).  This is called the “Run-on Demo” – and there is a tendency for these to get worse and worse over time.  [Why?  Each new release demands so much more to show, often in the same amount of time, along with the tendency to “pre-answer” questions we’d heard in previous sessions.  The result?  Much more talking about features and functions, many fewer stops to summarize or take new questions...] 

Remembering to summarize at the end of a demo segment is an act of personal discipline – and it can be supported by the use of triggers (as above) as well as by help from colleagues.  We coach sales people to gently step in and “rescue” their presales counterparts with periodic summaries. 

For example, at the end of a demo segment, our sales person interjects with, “John, before you go on, let me do a brief summary of what you just covered…”  John, our presales person, is relieved – he now has a few moments to take a breath, review where he is in the demo, and get ready for the next segment.

Very elegant, very professional!

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Used to Think I Was Really Good at Doing Demos…

I used to think I was really good at doing demos…  But I didn’t know the truth. 

I assumed that that I was really good since my demos were smooth, polished, in high demand by my sales counterparts and complimented by customers.  I assumed that since my talk-track was complete, confident, and covered most everything, I was really good.  I assumed that since I could pack a pile of content into a 1-hour web session, I was really good.

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

My demos were good, but they could have been MUCH better.  I thought I was “unconsciously competent”, executing my demos consistently and confidently, but it turned out I was (in fact) “unconsciously INCOMPETENT” – I didn’t know what I didn’t know…

Based on this, here are a few thoughts to consider…

- If you have a polished, consistent talk track – your demos could be better.
- If you present a standard demo much of the time – your demos could be better.
- If you anticipate all of the questions people might ask and address them before they are asked – your demos could be better.
- If you make sure to cover your key differentiators – your demos could be better.
- If your audience is generally just quiet – your demos could be getter.
- If your audience often responds to your check-in of “Any questions so far?” with the response, “Nope, we’re good…” – your demos could be better.
- If you frequently run out of time – your demos could be better.
- If you do a demo and the customer says, “Thanks, we’d like to run a POC” – your demos could be better.
- If your customers say, when they negotiate their license agreement, “You showed us a bunch of stuff we won’t use, so reduce the license fees…” – your demos could be better.

And the list goes on…!

Those of us who are “seasoned veterans” likely have the most to learn – and unlearn.

After all, what is the definition of an expert in the world of demos?  I’d say it is someone who is consciously and constantly seeking to improve…

So, if you think you are really good at demos – and yet you’d like to get even better, contemplate taking a demos skills training course (hey – how about a Great Demo! Workshop or Master Class?).  Perhaps, like me, you don’t know what you don’t know…!