The Demo, the 7P of Planning, and Customer Experience

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Being a consultant being called into or asked to do a product demo is inevitable. A demo is one of the most powerful tools that product/solution vendors and their partners have in their arsenal to convince prospects.

The demo is a key part of the customer journey that the buyer of enterprise software takes. A good experience in this step will establish the trust that is necessary to go any further with a vendor and/or implementation partner.

A great demo can make an underdog a winner while a poor demo can make the frontrunner an outright loser. Well, and sometimes the underdog’s killer demo scores them only the second place in a winner-takes-it-all world.

I have seen and done that on both sides of the table, given good and bad demos, sat as a customer or trusted adviser, attending bad to great demos. And it is always amazing to see and participate.



One thing is for sure: If you get into the make or break position of a competitive demo in a short list, you better remember

The 7 P of Planning

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Know thy customer; and know her well.

  • Who is part of the buying center?
  • Who decides?
  • Who influences who?
  • Who has the money?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do they want to achieve?
  • What do they expect to see?
  • How can I surprise/wow them?
  • Who is my friend?

These are only some of the more important questions that you need to get answers for before the demo.

Other ones include answering how important this deal is for me? And related to it how much effort you would like to invest into it. Who is the competition? Is it another partner working with the same software that you are working with? Or is it a competing vendor?

With most of the questions above clarified and given that the customer is important enough to warrant some investment it is time to prepare the demo. More often than not there are a number of functions and features that the customer wants to see, and usually, they are given as that, functions, and features.

Often the demo requirements are prepared from the point of view of what customer employees are doing now, sometimes even to an extent that they are just translating their current way of working into the world of the new system that they want to implement.

Expect a check list that helps your audience in making sure that the relevant points got covered and to what extent. Expect this check list being mainly organized by the sequence of functions and features that have been asked for.

Means, you are cornered.

Are you?

How to make your demo a success?

This is the demo dilemma that places you squarely between a rock and a hard spot, as a demo needs to have a flow, you want to tell a convincing story, and then users of your solution surely do things different than users of most other solutions. And then your solution can do a few things that make it shine over the competition, doesn’t it? You also do not want to do a ‘hard sell’ but gain trust to become an advisor. It is the long-term relationship that matters.



Technically, the most important part of the demo is translating the required functions and features into a story with a good flow that covers the required topics. Coverage should happen in a sequence that mainly covers the sequence of appearance of the features in the demo requirements document. Be sure to also plan to show some topics that are not necessarily asked for but that are eye-openers for the audience.

You have a friend in the organization?

Talk to him/her and make sure to get a deeper understanding of what is really wanted, how processes currently look like and what the pain points or unmet needs, especially of the most important people in the audience, are.

Be sure you listen and then use the advice.

It is not really necessary to explicitly mention the pain points but just demoing a solution for an unmentioned pain point gives you credits and helps establishing trust. You show that your solution can support more than the imminent pain points, that you know your stuff – and, what is more, your customer’s business.

Last, but not least: Be sure you have the right person to demo the solution. This person needs to know the customer’s industry, ideally the customer, and speak the customer’s language – as in language and jargon. There is no point in having a German with poor English skills demo to an English-speaking audience – or vice versa. In addition, demoing is almost like acting. It is a performance!

So, make sure that the presenter can perform and speak vividly in front of an audience. There isn’t a much better possibility to put an audience asleep than a droning on presentation. Doing a few dry runs helps in this regard.

To sum it up

As you guess by here, delivering a killer demo is not really rocket science, but the application of a simple recipe.

  • Know your customer
  • Know your stuff
  • Get the right intelligence
  • Prepare
  • Tell a story
  • Perform

A killer demo is also a surefire way to deliver a mind-blowing customer experience. Does it guarantee a win? No. But it brings you a lot closer to it by establishing the necessary trust into software and implementation partner.

Now, you say that this is a lot of effort for a demo?



It is.

But then this is the only way to go for bigger deals, or deals that you just want to win. Having a good infrastructure surely helps to contain the necessary efforts, but it still is effort.

Are there less expensive ways? Yes, there are. Ask me for ideas if you are interested …

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