Saturday, September 12, 2020

Demo “Storylines”: The Journey, The Destination, or Both


Many software vendors talk about “The Journey” or “The Customer’s Journey” as a storyline for their demos.  We need to ask ourselves, however, what is important to the customer?


Is it really the Journey or is it the Destination – or possibly both?


Let’s think critically about promoting the Journey vs. the Destination before deciding how to best position our demos…


It’s All About Value


Here’s a very simple way to determine if the Journey, Destination, or both should be the focus:  Where does the customer get value?


-        If the customer gets value along the Journey or if there are sufficient waypoints of value along the way, then the Journey should be promoted.

-        If the customer only gets value from the Destination, then push the Destination.

-        And if both, then both…!


But be cautious about making assumptions.  For example, a “Journey to the Cloud” could entail both – but you need to assess this carefully.  For example:


-        If the Journey is just a series of tasks and steps to migrate a customer’s existing environment to the cloud – and there is no real value returned to the customer at each of the steps – then the Destination is the correct positioning.


-        Contrariwise, if the customer enjoys value realization at several (or all) of the steps, then you should likely promote both the Journey and the Destination.


When It’s Not the Journey…


Many vendors try to glorify the workflow(s) enabled by their software as “Journeys” but may be misunderstanding the customer’s perspective.  Vendors, after all, are often in love with their own software.  What does the customer think?


After all, a workflow is still work:  A series of steps or tasks that need to be completed.  Most software products automate and streamline traditional workflows, often embracing a broader range of functions, while making them faster and with fewer possibilities for errors.  But is a workflow a Journey?


Here are a few examples where the Journey is likely not the desired experience, from the customer’s perspective:


-        Anything to do with Set-Up Mode:  Anything done once to implement a system is not a good Journey storyline for a demo, particularly if there is no value associated with the Set-Up steps. 


For example, entering information into a database or CRM system delivers no value to the user; it is only when the database is large enough to provide useful search results and analysis that value is gained.


-        For an executive or senior manager, most workflows are not particularly interesting and don’t make for a compelling Journey.


 Workflows are simply sets of tasks that need to be executed by staff members.  Senior management does want to make sure that their staff will be comfortable using the software, but that is (potentially) the staff members’ Journey – not management’s.


-        For staff members, workflows are the tasks they likely do repeatedly – this is not a Journey.


Anything you do over and over and over at work, is just that:  work.  Commuting 45 minutes in heavy traffic to an office twice a day is an example of a workflow – definitely not a Journey!


When It’s Not the Destination


This is actually harder…  It is more difficult to think of software products where the Destination is not a desired deliverable.  Perhaps:


-        Ad hoc exploration of large masses of data – looking for novel trends or unanticipated relationships could be an example.


(“But,” I hear you cry, “aren’t finding the trends or relationships actually Destinations…?”  Hmmm, I think you’re right…)


Again, we can apply the simple test:  where does the customer get value?  If there is no value in a Destination, then the best positioning is the Journey.  Note, however, that the customer needs to get value from the Journey – or this particular product is at risk!


When It Is the Journey


-        Employee onboarding:  This could be a good example journey, leading from hiring, through initial HR onboarding forms and documents, to receiving hardware, to identifying and executing training, ongoing development, career advancement, etc.  As with life, one’s career is (hopefully) a Journey, with waypoints of accomplishments along the route.


Note, of course, that these waypoints may also be Destinations in their own right…!


When It Is the Destination


Frankly, it is likely that most software solutions focus on Destinations – for example:


-        Finding and addressing problems.

-        Identifying root causes.

-        Delivering reports.

-        Providing alerts.

-        Exposing opportunities.

-        Surfacing exceptions.

-        Achieving governance.

-        Enabling a process.

-        Facilitating continuity.

-        Establishing and confirming compliance.

-        Optimizing systems, processes and workflows.

-        Improving performance.


Even avoiding loss can be a Destination (think about it…).


If the customer receives all of the value based on arriving at the Destination, then position accordingly.


A Matter of Perspective


Another point of view on the Journey vs. the Destination is exactly that – it may depend on the point of view of the customer.  Here’s an example: 


You are flying (pre/post Covid-19) overseas for a vacation at a beautiful resort…  Is it the Journey, the Destination, or both that matter?


-        If you are flying in a cramped middle seat in coach – in front of the couple with the teething child, struggling for part of the armrest with your neighbor in the back of the plane for 11 hours, and getting up every hour for that same neighbor to go to the lavatory – it is probably not the Journey that is of interest!  It may be an experience, but perhaps one that you wouldn’t like to repeat…  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


-        On the other hand, if you are in first-class, enjoying the first-class lounge and fine dining, comfortable seats, unlimited drinks, a lie-flat bed and noise-cancelling earphones – then the Journey might be worthwhile as well…!  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


-        In both cases, the Destination is definitely important – that gorgeous resort (fill in your own description of the perfect vacation paradise!)…  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


Perspective may also depend on job title. 


For senior managers, the process of achieving critical objectives may include components of both Journey and Destination – and value is likely gained for that manager through both components. 

A vice president of sales celebrates each rep’s newly closed business, growing and developing the team through the year, while working towards achievement of the quarterly and (especially) annual goals.  Journey and Destination.


Staff members doing individual tasks will likely only gain value from each task’s completion, however – task-based Destinations.


The accounting staff closes the books every month, producing reports for management.  The process of closing the books is a repetitive series of tasks – so it is the Destination they desire, not the Journey. 


A story:  Many years ago, I was flying from San Francisco to Switzerland to attend my first European Users’ Group meeting.  I was in coach on a 747; my vice president of sales and CFO were in business-class.  I can share with you that the Journey was not a pleasant experience for me – but senior management had a great trip!


A Few Additional Ideas


Many software products enable the same end-result to be achieved (the customer’s current situation), but faster, better, or cheaper.  This is a case of the same Destination, different Journeys (different methods of getting to the Destination).  Analogy?  Drive 1000 miles to visit a sick relative vs. flying. 


If you have ever been the customer and previously (or currently) used the product – you are in a terrific position.  Ask yourself, “Did you enjoy the Journey or was it the Destination that was desired – or both?” 


Finally, most people want to get to their Destination as fast and smoothly as possible.  Ask yourself:  How well aligned is that desire with the Journey as your demo storyline?


It’s All About Value (Again)


When you are determining the best positioning and storyline for your demos, consider where the customer gets value:


-        If the customer gets value along the Journey or if there are sufficient waypoints of value along the path, then sell the Journey.


-        If the customer only gets value from the Destination, then sell the Destination.


-        And if the customer enjoys value gains from both, then sell both…!


And so ends this Journey…  (Did you get value along the way?)



Copyright © 2020 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Upcoming Presales Collective Webinar – The Competitive Play: Why, When, and How

As presales professionals we deal with competition daily.
 Join presales veterans Peter Cohan, Nidhi Shah, and Marjorie Abdelkrime as they share stories and provide insights on how you can better manage (and outflank) your competition. 


What you can expect to get out of the webinar:

·     What to say (or not say) about your competition

·     Some horror stories we’ve experienced

·     Setting “land mines” (and exposing competitor’s)

·     What if their product is really that much better – leveraging “whole product analysis”

·     Navigating head-to-head evaluations


When:  October 1 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time; 2:00 PM Eastern Time


You can register here for this webinar – looking forward to your questions and comments during the session as well!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Zoom Scan – What It Is, Why It Is Important, and How to Do It


Translating Face-to-Face Meeting Audience Scans to the Web


Many presales and salespeople report that they find it difficult to consume and act on the various inputs when presenting demos and presentations over the web using Zoom and similar tools. 


They note it is hard enough to present over the web – and taking in audience impressions via webcams, checking chat, scanning the participant pane, the Q&A pane, monitoring audio and one’s own video is tough to observe and incorporate.


It is very important, however.  Why?


When we are face-to-face delivering a demo or presentation in a conference room, we have developed – almost unconsciously – skills to scan the room while we are presenting.  We talk and drive our software while also watching people’s expressions for comprehension, questions, agreement or disagreement, and whether people are paying attention.   


In these face-to-face meetings we have learned to perform a Face-to-Face Scan.  As seasoned face-to-face presenters we do this naturally.  If we simply ignored the audience, it is likely our demos and presentations would be much less successful.


We now need to translate our Face-to-Face Scan to web meetings…!


So, here are some simple guidelines for developing your personal Zoom Scan (or WebEx Scan etc.):


1.     Get familiar with your web collaboration tool (Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc.).  Set up sessions for yourself (even better with a colleague, who can give you feedback) and explore all of the tools and relevant settings so that you know what is available and how to use them.


This is very similar to what we do in face-to-face meetings – we make sure we are comfortable with our laptop and software, our plan for our demo or presentation, and any other materials or visual aids that plan to use.  We organize and have ready our equipment, presentation tools, visual aids, notes, phone hotspot, etc. that we might expect to need.


2.     Launch your Zoom (etc.) meeting 5 minutes early.  This gives you time to test and make sure things are working properly before your customer arrives.  Check latency, audio, video, and screen sharing with a colleague or key customer contact.  Then open the participant and chat panes, organize the video pane to see all the participants, as well as the annotation toolbar – arrange them where you can see what you need of your presentation/demo and have good visual access to the various audience panes.  Ensure your webcam pane is showing as many of your audience members as possible (“Gallery” mode shows the most but may cover more of your screen than desired).


This is again what we do in face-to-face meetings – we typically arrive in a conference room before the meeting to familiarize ourselves with the layout, arrange chairs, connect to the projector, find pens and clean whiteboards, and generally organize in accord with our needs. 


And like face-to-face meetings, we may need to move things around during the meeting – to more clearly see a person asking a question, to draw on a whiteboard, or access a visual aid.  When operating over the web, we can expect similar needs – and have to rearrange our screen.   For example, we may need to move a pane aside to annotate on a specific part of our display.


3.     Greet and Meet attendees as they join.  Ask them to turn on their webcams and unmute their microphones as they enter.  Monitor the participant pane to note new arrivals and the status of their video and audio, accordingly (hey! you are now building a scan element). 


In a face-to-face meeting, we greet people as they come in the conference room, shaking hands and doing brief mutual introductions – now you are doing exactly the same thing over the web!


4.     Build your Zoom Scan.  As the meeting begins and you share content, glance at your slides or software as you start presenting – then glance at the participant pane (anyone new?).  Scan the participant faces in the video pane for comprehension, questions, attention (any confusion or comments?).  Now repeat:  content, participant pane, video pane, content…


After a session or two this will begin to feel natural – and you can expand your scan to include the chat and Q&A panes.  Note that chat and Q&A often have red “alert” marks, which means you only need to glance to see if an alert is present – if yes, then scan the pane.


Next, incorporate the use of annotation tools – these really help to make an online demo come alive…!  Select a tool, annotate, then erase – and remember to click the mouse cursor on the annotation pane to re-enable “normal” mouse control.


Your scan now includes content, participant pane, video pane, alerts, annotate, erase, repeat…


Pro Tip:  let your audience know what you are doing.  For example, rather than have your audience wonder why your mouse moved to a blank part of the screen (from the audience’s perspective), tell them, “OK, let me grab an annotation tool…”


Is there an analogy with face-to-face meetings?  Absolutely!  You have just translated your face-to-face scan to Zoom:  You are talking and driving your software while also watching people’s expressions for comprehension, questions, agreement or disagreement, and whether people are paying attention.  Congratulations!  


Here’s another analogy:  Driving a car.  Most of us likely don’t recall how overwhelmed we felt when we first learned to drive – but most of us can appreciate the differences between being a passenger in a car vs. driving. 


Most of us are passengers in web meetings (even if we host the sessions) – we join the session, listen, talk, and sometimes present content.  But we aren’t really driving, compared to what we do when we drive a car. 


Consider – when driving a car, we are managing the speed (accelerator, brake), direction (steering wheel), checking the speedometer, glancing at road signs, occasionally checking for problem lights on the dashboard, using the turn signals – and quite likely also eating, drinking, listening to GPS instructions as well as music or a podcast, and chatting with passengers.


Our scan for driving a car has become natural to us.  And note (I hope!) that the majority of the scan is on the road ahead… 


When presenting over the web, the same type of scan can take place – and again, note that the majority of your time will likely be spent presenting your content – but you’ll still want to check on the “passengers” (participants’ video), the “GPS” (participant pane), “road signs” (chat and Q&A), as well as sip your tea or coffee, etc. 


5.     Practice your Zoom Scan.  Now practice your Zoom Scan with each session – you’ll find you get more and more comfortable with the process.   And you won’t have to think about doing the scan – it will begin to become a habit.


Establishing your personal Zoom scan is a key element in transitioning to our “new normal” of operating over the web for our meetings. 


Pro Tip:  Many presenters report that they focus (too much) on their own webcam video.  While you do want to include yourself in your scan, occasionally, the main focus should be on your audience.  Experiment (with a colleague or by yourself in your own web sessions) to get comfortable with how you appear – your physical location and size with respect to your webcam, the lighting (is your face clearly visible – is there distracting backlighting?), what else is visible (or use a Zoom background), how much space you have for hand motions and the use of physical visual aids or props, etc.


Even Better Pro Tip:  Record your sessions and occasionally play them back…  Very humbling, but very effective!  You’ll hear your voice, your tone, your word choice; you’ll recognize if you cut off somebody’s question or if you forgot to close a question; you’ll see your mousing and use of the annotation tools.  This is an opportunity for some very rapid improvement and growth!


It only took a few face-to-face meetings (hopefully) to develop and grow comfortable with our face-to-face meeting scans – which then became second nature.  Now it’s time to fully translate our face-to-face practices to the web!




Copyright © 2020 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Let’s Talk About Empathy…


Many, many folks have commented that having empathy is critical to connecting in the current COVID environment.  However, just saying “you must have empathy” isn’t sufficient…!


How often are you on a call with someone who “empathizes” with a statement from you in a way that is clearly fake?  What is your reaction to that?  (Not good…!)


Simply stated, empathy is “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” 


But this often requires a true understanding of the other person’s situation – if you haven’t experienced their situation, it is hard or impossible to be empathetic!


If you have never been a customer, it is difficult to understand the customer’s true feelings about their situation. 

  • If you’ve never had their pain;
  • If you've never invested time exploring solution options;
  • If you've never been the "customer" in Discovery calls, demos, or POC's; 
  • If you’ve never driven the purchase of enterprise software or been a part of the buying committee;
  • If you’ve never participated in an implementation and roll-out process;
  • If you’ve never had a software project succeed (or fail);
  • If you’ve never been a project “burn victim”;

Then it is hard to truly be empathetic.  Perhaps impossible.

You can be sympathetic, which is quite different..!




If you’ve never broken your leg or other bone, how can you really understand the shock, surprise, pain, fear and worry associated with such an event?


Real empathy comes from shared experiences.  So, please be mindful of this when you are attempting to demonstrate “empathy” in your Discovery conversations and demos…!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Handy Zoom Tool in PowerPoint

PowerPoint has a very useful but rarely used zoom/magnify tool in Slideshow mode (in PowerPoint 365 for Windows only, sorry Macintosh folks…).  It works as follows:


(Assuming you are in Slideshow mode)

-     In the lower left corner of the presenter view (lower left corner of your slide), click the magnifying glass icon.

-     A bright rectangle appears on the slide and the mouse pointer changes to a hand.

-     Point your mouse over the area of the slide that you want to magnify, then click to zoom in on-screen. The mouse pointer becomes a hand to indicate that you can click and drag to move the zoom effect to a different area of the slide.

-     To turn off the zoom effect, press the Esc key or click the magnifying glass icon again.


This is very useful for (smoothly) focusing on specific areas of your screen – and/or enlarging sections that are hard to view or read for the audience.  Try it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

More Presales Tools!

Here are two more tools to explore.  Pudding is a dream-come-true for managing POC’s; Jiminny is another call-recording analysis/coaching tool with a focus on the practitioner first.





From the Vendor:


Pudding is the Proof of Concept (POC) management platform purpose built for Sales Engineering teams. It is the first Sales Engineering platform that is listed by Gartner as Cool Vendor in the CRM Sales category. Pudding provides Sales Engineering teams the much-needed visibility into POC activities, customer engagements and overall health of POCs. Here are some of the key features that Pudding offers:


- POC Dashboard with health and POC data

- POC Reports, Insights and Analytics

- Automated workflows (Salesforce 2-way sync with Pudding)

- Customer engagement portal during active POCs

- Scope library and templates

- Task management and collaboration

- Documents management (with one click document sharing with customers)

- Notes for tracking POC activities (2-way synced with Salesforce)

- POC status and health checks

- Role based access control

- Inventory tracking module


Pudding is SOC2 certified and already used by many well-known companies. [Our] Customers love Pudding for its simple, intuitive user interface, and ease of use. Schedule a time with the Pudding team (, experience the platform yourself, because Proof is in Pudding.


Our Comments:


Wow.  Wow!  If you have been looking for something to help manage POC’s (and POV’s, etc.) you need to check this out.  This is not an “emerging tool”; it is surprisingly mature.  It is intelligently designed and implemented, providing rich sets of capabilities for presales practitioners, presales managers – and for the customer, as well!





From the Vendor:


At Jiminny, we believe it is time to use technology to make coaching our sales people easier.  Jiminny is the platform for all your customer conversations.  Use Automation & AI to help your team grow and develop.  Never before has your teams performance been this visible across the whole sales cycle.  Now you can coach with impact.  Imagine making your sales rep's job 3 x easier, whilst giving you better data at the same time.


Our Comments:


Jiminny focuses on enabling reps to coach themselves – and to want to coach themselves and be coached by their managers.  Accordingly, this tool emphasizes usage and benefits for the reps themselves, first – a grass-roots approach.  If the reps love it, then the data that managers need will be generated willingly.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ignition Demos – A Rather Huge Unmet Need and Opportunity



Prospects that are “Just Browsing” are underserved in traditional sales approaches yet consume valuable and expensive presales resources.


We propose:


1.     A new type of Vision Generation Demo:  “Ignition Demos” to provide the spark for the engine that drives the prospect’s journey to becoming a customer;

2.     A new type of customer-facing staff member:  A “Browsing Consultant” to deliver that spark, engaging the prospect in an initial conversation.




1.     Valuable presales resources are not wasted delivering overview demos to prospects who are “Just Browsing” and have no intention of buying in the short-term.

2.     BDR’s and SDR’s don’t waste time trying to qualify and set meetings for their corresponding salespeople with these “Just Browsing” prospects similarly.

3.     Salespeople don’t waste their time in meetings set by BDR’s and SDR’s with “Just Browsing” prospects who passed the qualification criteria.

4.     Entry-level presales and customer success staff start as Browsing Consultants and:

o   Learn to engage prospects in low-risk engagements;

o   Learn to articulate the high-probability use-cases for their offerings;

o   Learn to engage prospects in meaningful conversations;

o   Achieve basic competency with their products and systems (e.g., their CRM);

o   As these staff members mature, they can be “harvested” into active sales and post-sales projects as presales and customer success team members.

5.     A reasonable amount of prospect Discovery information is collected early – well before the prospect engages in a buying process.

6.     Prospects feel appreciated – and will have a positive bias towards the vendor.

7.     Marketing has clearer insights into nurture/trickle/drip marketing approaches for these prospects, enabling more rapid and/or more certain movement towards purchasing.


The Rationale


Consider:  50% of the leads you generate are qualified, but are not ready to buy right now…


-        How do you handle prospects who aren’t ready to buy in your sales processes?


-        How many demos do you deliver that are largely a waste of time for you – demos to prospects who simply want an education – those who are “Just Browsing”?


-        How often do you deliver demos that you repeat over and over and over – that could probably have been recorded and played back for these prospects?


Here’s a provocative idea:  invest a small amount of energy in these prospects – just a spark – to satisfy these prospects and begin to move them towards a buying process. 


Get Fired Up!


What is needed are demos that ignite a spark in the prospect’s mind – “Ignition Demos” – that generate a small flame.  Continued encouragement through nurture/trickle/drip marketing fans the flames, adds kindling and eventually develops a fire that demands attention – and becomes a real opportunity.


These important demos are poorly supported or not supported at all in most organizations – they are traditionally known as marketing and educational demos.


“What?”, I hear you cry…  “I thought you specifically told us not to do educational demos and harbor tours…?” 


Indeed – and that is still correct.


Skilled presales personnel should not be investing one-on-one time with prospects on educational demos – but someone or something should. 


Traditionally, this is marketing’s job, but most marketing organizations don’t have the bandwidth or personnel resources to engage prospects directly.  Prospects today are typically presented with:


1.     A website-hosted recorded demo that assumes that all customers are the same (and is typically insufficient for prospects seeking to learn about the vendor’s offering);

2.     A website “Contact Sales” form that triggers an SDR/DBDR qualification process;

3.     A website “Book a Demo” button“ that also triggers the same SDR/DBDR qualification process.


Here’s what typically happens for our “Just Browsing” prospects…


It’s All About Sales, Right?


Most live demos focus on moving the customer through a sales process and assume that either:


Case 1:  The customer is actively pursuing a solution, or

Case 2:  The customer needs to be actively pursuing a solution.


In the first case, the customer engages one or more vendors well into the buying process, looking to compare solutions, price, fit, vendor credentials, etc.  This is typical for inbound sales processes where the customer is actively pursuing a solution.


In the second case, a salesperson or BDR/SDR works to convince the customer that the customer has a problem that demands a rapid solution, with an expectation that the customer will enter into a buying process once the realization of the problem’s magnitude and time criticality becomes clear.  This is typical of outbound sales processes.


Both cases presume that the customer will pursue a purchasing pathway through one of the following outcomes:


1.     Buying from us.

2.     Buying from someone else.

3.     Choosing to do nothing (“No Decision”).


Accordingly, when a customer clicks on the “See a Demo” button on a vendor website, the assumption is that the customer is in a buying process (Case 1:  actively pursuing a solution).  On the vendor’s side, the next step often has an SDR or BDR contacting the customer to qualify the opportunity, set a meeting with a salesperson, and move the customer through the vendor’s sales process.


In Case 2, if the vendor’s sales team is successful in convincing the customer to explore addressing a previously unknown or lower-priority problem, then a similar sales trajectory is pursued.


But what about Case 3 – “Just Browsing”?  What if the customer is simply exploring “what’s out there”?  What if the customer is simply looking to gain an education of what is possible?


We then wondered, “How big a problem or opportunity is this?”  It’s big…


Are the Majority Ready to Buy?


Nope – or not yet.  Consider: 


“Up to 95 percent of qualified prospects on your website are there to research and not yet ready to talk with Sales, however up to 70 percent will eventually buy from you — or your competitors.”

– Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale




“According to Gleanster Research, 50% of the leads you generate are qualified, but not ready to buy right now.”




"Gartner research shows the majority of technology buyers (59%) that regularly make purchases will “always” or “often” respond to vendor marketing campaigns when they are not in an active buying process."


Sounds like it’s a big problem (or a big opportunity)!


Clearly, the majority of website visitors who click on the “Book a Demo” button are not ready to buy – and sales processes seek to disqualify them as rapidly as possible (through SDR/BDR qualification calls), leaving prospects who are interested in learning about the vendor’s offering with three options:


1.     Move on to another vendor and try again. 


Result?  This vendor loses the possibility of a customer, perhaps forever…!


2.     Lie to the SDR/BDR regarding qualification questions, so that the prospect can get the education and information desired. 


Result?  The vendor wastes time doing a demo for a prospect not yet in a buying mode.


3.     The prospect answers truthfully – and is disqualified without getting the information desired.


Result?  The prospect is (hopefully) added to a nurture/trickle/drip marketing list and is provided with periodic marketing materials designed to nudge the prospect towards an active buying process.  But the prospect doesn’t get to see a demo and is dissatisfied!


Interestingly, it’s still largely about seeing a demo:


"Demonstrations remain popular with prospects, as buyers often choose a demo as a quick way to figuring out what a solution offers.  A call to action that mentions a demo likely will get interest, as 58% of buyers cited “demonstrations” as a call to action they would respond to in a marketing campaign."

– Gartner


Summing up:  


-        In two of these three cases the prospect never sees a demo from the vendor;

-        And in the third case, while the prospect does see a demo, it is often considered a wasted effort from the vendor’s perspective.


Three negative outcomes.  Let’s propose some solutions…!


An Elegant Approach to Embracing “Just Browsing” Prospects


There is a HUGE gap in our current sales and marketing processes, accordingly.  There needs to be a way for prospects to see a brief demo of what’s possible – an Ignition Demo – but without consuming SDR/BDR, sales or presales time. 


We need to find a way to embrace the 70% – the “Just Browsing” prospects.


Here are three approaches:


1.     No Touch – using automated demos – Automated Browsing Consultants

2.     Low Touch – using junior-level resources – Browsing Consultants

3.     High Touch – using presales, customer success or specialists, specifically trained


No Touch – Automated Demos


This is a simple, very elegant approach to address your “Just Browsing” prospects – provide them with a crisp overview of your offering via recorded Ignition Demos. 


Great Ignition Demos crisply identify the problems that can be addressed and the high-level solutions – with an emphasis on the deliverables.  For example, showing what in the software would address or enable the following:

o   Visibility improvements via reporting, dashboards and alerts

o   Waste elimination and reduction of resource consumption

o   Opportunity exploitation

o   Exception exploration

o   Efficiency and productivity improvements

o   Risk reduction

o   Root-cause identification

o   Communication improvements


Recordings a few minutes in length are likely sufficient for simpler offerings.  Live versions would follow similar guidelines but seek to engage the prospect in a conversation as well.


Note, however, that Ignition Demos need to actually show your software – they can’t be pure “explainer” videos. 


For vendors with concise, focused solutions, recorded Ignition Demos are a summary of the problems addressed, along with the key capabilities, key screens, and key deliverables provided by the offering. 


The main challenge for effective Ignition Demos is to create the recording with the customer perspective in mind, first addressing what the offering provides, and only sharing as much of the how (process execution) as is appropriate.  Deliverables first; workflows steps are secondary.


Vendors that have multiple solutions and/or solutions that address multiple sets of needs (e.g., ERP and CRM vendors) should prepare mini-demos for each solution area and/or job title. 


Access needs to be guided accordingly, by solution, job title or other similar mechanism to enable prospects to self-select their interests.  Lengths for each mini-demo should likely be a few minutes each.


(Note that a “one-size fits all” overview simply does not work in this case – you are back to producing hour-long “harbor tours”, but in a recorded format…!)


After a no-touch demo, the customer is presented with two buttons:


1.     “This looks really interesting – I’d like to engage in a sales call” (“Yes, I’m in my evaluation and buying process and would like to engage with you…” or similar.)

2.     “This looks interesting – but likely for the future”  (“Can you please keep me informed of changes and updates as your offering evolves and my needs solidify…?” or similar.)


Consensus offers a truly terrific no-touch solution for vendors, providing an intelligent automated demo capability that maps to job titles, followed by offering a list of topics to choose from along with selecting the level of importance for each topic.  The resulting “demo” is assembled from pre-built demo fragments, mapping precisely to what the prospect requested – and all of the prospect’s choices and actions are captured for use by the vendor’s sales and marketing teams. 


An Automated Browsing Consultant.  It’s as simple as ABC – delightful!


Note that if a prospect chooses all topics in a Consensus automated demo as “important”, the resulting aggregated demo is likely about 10-14 minutes in length.


Who should create these assets?  Presales or customer success, not marketing.


Why?  Because presales and customer success teams are most intimate with typical customer use-cases.  Marketing should be in charge of capturing the recordings, from presales or customer success, and hosting these assets on websites and providing them in the form of email response templates, with appropriate tracking for both cases.


Reconsider:  Investing a few hours in creating these mini-demos vs. the hours (and hours and hours!) wasted delivering traditional overview demos to “Just Browsing” prospects…!


Low-Touch – Live Browsing Consultants


For organizations that want to engage human-to-human for a range of possible reasons, including a desire to do real Discovery and/or actually help prospect get what they want, consider training and devoting specific resources to these “Just Browsing” prospects.


Junior-level staff and new hires targeted for presales or customer success roles may be perfect for the Browsing Consultant role.  (Note – larger organizations with presales “academy” training programs could use the Browsing Consultant position as the first customer-facing position – a stepping-stone for responsibilities requiring more experience).


Browsing Consultants in low-touch operations would require training similar to that provided to SDR/BDR’s and junior-level presales and customer success staff:


-        Basic product knowledge

-        Basic Ignition Demo presentation skills

-        Reasonable understanding of the high-probability use-cases for the offering(s)

-        Very basic Discovery skills

-        Basic understanding and use of the appropriate tools (e.g., CRM system, scheduling tools, etc.)


In a low-touch scenario, Browsing Consultants would engage prospects with just a few questions followed by an Ignition Demo – a brief, purposeful summary of the problems addressed by the offering and the high-level capabilities provided by the solution. 


Low-touch Browsing Consultants would then offer three choices to the prospect:


1.     “Would you like to speak with someone in sales?” (“Is this something you’d like to pursue in the short term, now that you’ve had a taste?”)

2.     “Would you like me to add you to our emailing list?”  (“Would you like to receive periodic updates and information on the offering and related?”)

3.     “Anything else?”  (“Are you something other than a “Just Browsing” prospect – are you looking to be a partner or reseller, are you an analyst, media, etc. – I can connect you.”)


Low-touch Browsing Consultants would likely invest 15-20 minutes per prospect.  Using tools such as DemoFlow or DemoDesk, all of the assets they need would be provided in a fully enabled environment – and their interactions would be automatically recorded in the CRM.


Reconsider:  Investing in these lower-cost resources vs. the hours consumed wasted delivering traditional overview demos to “Just Browsing” prospects…!


High-Touch – Live, Experienced Browsing Consultants


For organizations more complex offerings and/or long buying/sales cycles, a high-touch approach might be appropriate.  The objective in these cases is to engage the prospect in deeper Discovery discussions interspersed with appropriate Ignition Demos, yielding richer information for both parties.


This is a more consultative approach, requiring Browsing Consultants with more experience, deeper product knowledge, and sharper Discovery skills.  Advantages of this approach for the vendor include gaining much richer Discovery information early in the prospecting process – and nurturing in accord with what was learned.  Prospects would also likely bias a purchase in favor of the vendor that makes this investment with them.


Organizations could periodically cycle experienced presales or customer success staff into this position (and back) or train and develop specifically for the role.


Clearly, organizations could experiment with one or more approaches, including combinations of No-Touch automation and Low- and High-Touch teams.




We see an opportunity – a very large opportunity – to reduce waste and improve customer experience by applying this Browsing Consultant concept and Ignition Demos.


Let us know your thoughts!


The Backstory – Try This Yourself…!


Here is an example that you can test for yourself – see what happens first-hand!



Qualified Out or In


Let’s say you are a presales manager interested in exploring calendaring tools for your team of 25 folks.  You note that everyone is setting meetings with customers via email exchanges that often go back and forth – it’s frustrating and you know it is inefficient, but it doesn’t appear to be negatively impacting team performance.


As a good manager you decide to explore what is possible in the calendar automation space. 


You reach out to several calendaring software vendors, review their websites, explore what you can online, but you really want to get a feel for what is possible with the software.  Accordingly, you click the “See a Demo” button on one of the vendor websites. 


What happens next?


Well, you are now the customer being contacted by a BDR/SDR, who schedules a 15-minute call to “explore”.  The BDR/SDR’s objective is to either qualify you out (to avoid wasting valuable sales time) or qualify you in and set a meeting with a salesperson.


You begin the call and the BDR/SDR asks, “is this an active initiative?”


You quickly realize that if you say “no”, you’ll never see the offering – you’ll be qualified out.  You’ll be added to the vendor’s nurture/trickle/drip marketing list and will receive periodic marketing whitepapers, updates, and offers.  But you won’t have accomplished your objective, which is to get a sense of what is possible.  So what do you do?


You lie.


You respond, “Why, yes, this is an active initiative…”  (Not a complete lie, frankly, if you stretch at bit…!)  BDR/SDR then asks, “Are you the decision-maker?” 


“Yes, I am,” you state proudly (and inaccurately).


“Is budget allocated for this project?”


“Yes, of course,” you respond, as you cough quietly and somewhat uncomfortably to yourself…


“Tell me about some of your pain points,” asks the BDR/SDR.


You say, “Well, we have lots of inefficiencies with our current processes…”


BDR/SDR suggests, “Well, let’s set a time to explore further with our salesperson…” to which you agree (because you haven’t seen anything yet of their solution).


And on the vendor side a virtual bell sounds “Ding Ding Ding” as another “qualified” lead moves into the pipeline – you’ve been qualified as a sales-ready lead.


So far, the vendor investment is a 15-minute call with a BDR/SDR – and your investment is similar, but you have received zero value in the interaction.  Think about that…


It’s an Opportunity!


Congratulations, you have entered the “funnel” as a qualified prospect.  You have your very own record in the vendor’s CRM system – and your responses to the BDR/SDR questions have been dutifully logged.


A day before your call with the vendor salesperson, you receive a friendly reminder that you have a meeting tomorrow to explore solutions.  Note that this reminder is largely done to


a)     Make sure you don’t forget (and waste the vendor salesperson’s time)

b)     Give you the opportunity to cancel (to avoid wasting the vendor salesperson’s time)


Tomorrow arrives – and it is time for your call.  You join a Zoom (or whatever) session and go through a few pleasantries, after which the salesperson repeats many of the questions you already answered.  (Did they not read the notes in the CRM system?)


The salesperson asks a few additional questions, consuming a bit more time, after which (with Discovery considered “complete”) the salesperson launches into a traditional overview presentation, then turns the “host” role over to a presales resource to present an overview demo. 


(See “Stunningly Awful Web “Overview” Demos – The Gruesome Anatomy of a Traditional 1-Hour Web Overview Demonstration – And Some Solutions” and see how this sad example compares with your experience…!)


Sadly, most of what is presented is blah blah blah – it could have been condensed to a few minutes of vision generation.  What consumed an hour could have been accomplished in 20 minutes!


But wait – did you notice that presales is now also involved on the vendor side. 




For you, not that much, other than you invested 1.25 hours for 20 minutes of useful content.


For the vendor?  Similar, but:


1.     This opportunity will be pursued as “active” until, well, who knows? 

2.     The sales team (salesperson and presales person) each invested 1+ hours in an opportunity that will likely not go anywhere in the short term. 


That’s direct waste and opportunity cost as well (since they could have been working an opportunity that has a rational probability of closing).


Now, think about your organization – how do your processes compare?  Perhaps the Browsing Consultant and Ignition Demos concepts are worth a try!




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