Automated Demo Content – Getting It Right


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You’ve been asked to put together the content for an automated or recorded demo – where do you start?What should be included?

Some (Important) Perspective

Traditionally, different departments within a vendor often want to “own” their organization’s automated demos, resulting in internal competition, confusion, and ineffective deliverables. 

For example:

What’s Marketing’s (traditional) perspective? 

  • More, more, MORE!Put in as much as you can!We need to show as much as possible!

How about Sales’ (traditional) perspective? 

  • Give me something that will cause the prospect to pick the phone and call us…!


  • Give me a “magic bullet demo” that will close the deal…!

And Presales’ (traditional) perspective? 

  • How am I going to cram 60-90 minutes of “overview” into a 2-3 minute recording?

Perhaps the best starting point, however, is the Prospect’s perspective!After all, these automated demos should be designed to map to the prospect’s buying process and the specific needs at each stage. 

Here are five high-probability Use Cases to consider:

1. I’m just browsing and simply want to get an idea of what is possible for the future…

2. I’m early in an active buying process and need to understand which vendors to explore…

3. I need to get a deeper understanding of each vendors’ offerings…

4. I’ve seen a number of demos and now have questions about some specific capabilities…

5. I need something to help me communicate and sell internally.

Each of these represent opportunities to automate – but before you do, let’s examine your goals and objectives for this effort, in parallel with your prospects’…

Goals and Objectives

Your first step in determining content is to be clear on the goals for the recording.You’ll need answers to the following questions:

  • What are our goals with respect to scaling and/or compressing the sales/buying cycle?
  • Who is the target audience? 
  • What is the desired outcome?
  • What is the stage of the sales/buying process (i.e., which Use Cases above)?
  • What action do we want the prospect to take?

Next match the type of demo to the 5 Use Cases…

Types of Demos

There are three types of demos, overall, that can potentially be automated or recorded:

1. Ignition Demos:Use Case 1.

  • For prospects who are “just browsing”;
  • To engage, satisfy prospects’ desire to see what’s possible, and begin nurturing;
  • To load the vendor’s pipeline.

2. Vision Generation Demos:Use Cases 2, 3, and 5.

  • For prospects “in an active buying process”;
  • To enable Discovery for both prospect and vendor;
  • To enter onto the vendor’s forecast.

3. Technical Proof Demos:Use Cases 3, 4, and 5.

  • For prospects who are “seeking proof”;
  • Based on Discovery completed;
  • To move higher on the forecast – achieve proof.

Let’s explore each in turn…

Automated Ignition Demos

Prospects who are “just browsing” typically want to get a high-level understanding of what is possible.They are likely still defining their problem set and only have a vague understanding or vision of possible solutions.Automated Ignition Demos are a terrific way to light their fire…!

But where do you begin?Is it possible to create a “one-size-fits-all” demo that embraces the interests of all prospect players? 


Every job title within your prospect typically has different problem sets, solutions and desired outcomes.Let’s use CRM systems as a working example.Your prospect likely has several (or many!) parties interested in determining what the CRM system should do:

  • Chief Revenue Officer:Needs accurate forecast and pipeline reporting for new-name customers and renewals/expansions from existing customers.
  • Front-line Sales Manager:Needs an accurate forecast for local team, plus insight into reps’ strengths and weaknesses to enable coaching.
  • Sales Rep:Wants the minimum effort required to enter and update opportunity info.
  • Presales Leadership:Wants to see status and timing of opportunity progression from Discovery to demo to POC along with opportunity size. 
  • Presales Practitioner:Needs Discovery info to propose a precise solution, prepare live demos, POC success criteria, etc.
  • Head of Marketing:Needs to track lead generation, lead progression, conversion, renewals, expansion, and churn.
  • Marketing Manager:Needs to build, execute and track marketing campaigns.
  • Sales Operations:Understand and manage territory loading, compensation and quota attainment; also concerned about CRM system “hygiene”.
  • Sales Enablement:Needs to track onboarding, time-to-effectiveness, implementation and adoption of sales methodology and plays.
  • Customer Success:Needs to know the use cases and Value Realization Events for newly closed customers, renewal dates, and churn information.
  • CRM System Admin:Wants to understand system setup, ongoing administration, permissions, custom report building, etc.

A face-to-face demo to this combined team could easily consume a full day!(Do the math:an hour per segment average for 11 players – that’s a very long day!)How could you possibly create a single recorded demo that would engage and satisfy all 11 folks?Pretty tough!

Instead, let’s divide and satisfy the prospect on a job title by job title basis.

The Menu Approach – Choose Your Own Adventure

Consensus has developed an intelligent automated demo tool that starts by asking the prospect for his or her job title.This approach is key!It enables the entire balance of the demo to focus on the goals, problems, capabilities desired and value elements for that specific job title.

This is a delightful example of The Menu Approach in practice.The first “Menu” presents a list of job titles and asks the viewer to choose.Let’s play along…

“What’s Your Job Title?

  • Chief Revenue Officer
  • Front-line Sales Manager
  • Sales Rep
  • Presales Leadership
  • Presales Practitioner
  • Head of Marketing
  • Marketing Manager
  • Sales Operations
  • Sales Enablement
  • Customer Success
  • CRM System Admin”

Let’s pick “Front-line Sales Manager” for our example.We click that box and the automated demo takes us to a screen that lists 5-7 high-probability challenges, drafted specifically for front-line sales managers:

  • Improving Forecast and Pipeline Accuracy
  • Increasing Visibility into Rep Opportunities
  • Identifying and Coaching Rep Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Preparing for QBRs
  • Onboarding New Reps
  • Inspecting and Coaching to Your Sales Methodology
  • Collaborating with Other Regions on Global Opportunities

The is the second use of The Menu Approach, laying out areas of potential interest for this job title.The automated tool now asks the viewer to rank each of the 7 items above as “High”, “Medium” or “No” priority.This is a terrific way to

1.Invite the viewer to “choose their own adventure”

2. While providing the vendor with very valuable early Discovery information.

What a delight!As the viewer, we now make our selections:

High - Improving Forecast and Pipeline Accuracy

High - Increasing Visibility into Rep Opportunities

Medium - Identifying and Coaching Rep Strengths and Weaknesses

High - Preparing for QBRs

Medium - Hiring and Onboarding New Reps

No - Inspecting and Coaching to Your Sales Methodology

Medium- Collaborating with Other Regions on Global Opportunities

Our selections are recorded and the automated demo presents the following:

- 2-3 minute segment on Improving Forecast and Pipeline Accuracy

- 2-3 minute segment on Increasing Visibility into Rep Opportunities

- 30-second segment on Identifying and Coaching Rep Strengths and Weaknesses

- 2-3 minute segment on Preparing for QBRs

- 30-second segment on Hiring and Onboarding New Reps

Nothing on Inspecting and Coaching to Your Sales Methodology

- 30-second segment on Collaborating with Other Regions on Global Opportunities

Now for the pivotal question:what should be presented in each of these segments?

2-3 Minute Micro Demos

With Consensus, one of the toughest questions in preparing recorded demo segments is already answered for you:how long should demo segments run? 

Consensus generally recommends:

  • 2-3 minutes for “High” ranked items;
  • 30 seconds for “Medium” items;
  • And zero for the “No” items.

What can you accomplish in 2-3 minutes?A lot! 

Specifically, 2-3 minutes is a terrific length for simple Ignition and Vision Generation demos – in fact, the same content can be used for both Ignition (Use Case 1) and Vision Generation (Use Cases 2, 3 and 5).

The specific content can (must!) map to what has already been learned about the prospect.We already know the prospect identifies with “Front-line Sales Manager” as the job title, so each of the segments needs to align to Front-line Sales Manager goals, needs, and potential solutions.

Let’s use “Preparing for QBRs” for our example.

An excellent starting point for this 2-3 minute segment is establish a connection, based on how you’ve helped other, similar front-line sales managers achieve their objectives.A simple slide could start this off with the following voiceover:

“We’ve helped many other front-line sales managers streamline QBR preparation – they had shared how their reps were often incorrectly assigning opportunity stages and neglecting to update opportunities as changes occurred.Managers often had to call reps individually to “get the truth”, then manually create QBR presentation slides to reflect the “real” data.There were often errors in this process that got worse as the year progressed – many managers reported unpleasant EOQ surprises when deals they had counted on didn’t close!

Front-line Managers said they were looking for some way that the CRM system would “coach” the reps to enter the correct opportunity stages – and keep them accurate through time-based prompts regarding changes in opportunity status or playbook steps.Further, Managers wanted “push button” QBR-ready output that showed the opportunities as well as the confidence of the data expressed as a score.

We provided those capabilities – and our customers report that they are now enjoying 90% or better accuracy of the QBR information they present vs. what was previously 50% - they also shared that they have recovered 1-2 FTE otherwise consumed in the process – and they report “no surprises” at quarter end…!”

Great Demo! practitioners will recognize the above voiceover as a verbal delivery of a Situation Slide:

Job Title: Front-line Sales Manager

Critical Business Issue: QBR preparation difficult, inaccurate

Problems/Reasons: Incorrectly assigned opportunity stages; neglected updates; manual process; errors; bad EOQ surprises

Specific Capabilities: Guided coaching to assign stages; time-based prompts; confidence scoring of rep info; push-button generation of QBR-ready materials

Delta (Value): Opportunity accuracy improvement from 50 to 90%; recovery of 1-2 FTE annually; “no surprises…!”

And a simple version of this slide can be the visual for this part of the 2-3 minute segment – in fact, if you read the full text and time it, you’ll find it consumes just about 1 minute…Now you can use the next 1-2 minutes to share a key screen or two from your software (an “Illustration”), describe it and recommunicate the value.

Let’s imagine an Illustration screen – here’s the voiceover:

“What you are looking at here is slide specifically generated for a QBR, with the key opportunities displayed showing the stages completed, forecasted amounts, and confidence ratings – and all of this information was captured automatically after the system verified the status from your reps through automated coaching and timing prompts.

With these capabilities, our customers report opportunity accuracy improvement from 50 to 90%, recovery of 1-2 FTE annually, and near elimination of those unpleasant EOQ ‘surprises’…!”

The author uses highlighting or annotation tools during the recording process to direct the prospect’s eyes to specific areas of the screen as they are being described.

Total time?2-3 minutes.That’s your completed “Micro Demo” for that specific Front-line Sales Manager use case.

30-Second Micro Demos

What about the 30-second segments? 

You likely have already realized that the “Illustration” portion of the above is the terrific candidate for your content, trimmed appropriately to make the perfect 30-second segment. 

This enables effective reuse of your content.Once you’ve created your 2-3 minute Micro Demos, you have the full set of candidates for each corresponding 30-second segment.

The Micro Demo Library Hierarchy

Rinse and repeat…

Returning to the Menu for your Front-line Sales Manager, you realize that you’ll need to complete the following Micro Demos for each of the Menu items:

  • Improving Forecast and Pipeline Accuracy
  • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
  • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Increasing Visibility into Rep Opportunities
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Identifying and Coaching Rep Strengths and Weaknesses
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Preparing for QBRs
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Hiring and Onboarding New Reps
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Inspecting and Coaching to Your Sales Methodology
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo
  • Collaborating with Other Regions on Global Opportunities
    • 2-3 minute Micro Demo
    • 30-second Micro Demo

    Similarly, you’ll also need to create Menus and the Micro Demos for each of the job titles you choose to include at the top level of the hierarchy.In our CRM example, that’s 11 job titles mapping to 11 Menus and perhaps 5-7 Menu items for each Menu, assuming your CRM offering has capabilities that span this range of job titles. 

    Doing a little math, 11 job titles x 6 Menu Items yields between 132-198 minutes of overall demo (at 2-3 minutes per Micro Demo).This shouldn’t be a surprise – after all, if you simply recorded your traditional end-to-end “overview” demo for these same job titles, you’d likely end up with a demo that takes about the same time.

    BUT (and this is a big but):your automated demo now maps precisely to the needs and interests of your prospects.That’s a HUGE advantage for your prospects – and an equally huge advantage in terms of the Discovery information you collect as the vendor.You’ll learn what Menu items they are interested in along with their High-Medium-No ranking, whether they watched the full segment, whether they forwarded the demo to others, and more.Delightful!

    Finally, include your call to action.For prospects who are “just browsing”, you’ll want to offer the following options (in addition to “Share with a Colleague”):

    1. “Keep me informed”:This option moves the prospect into your nurture or trickle marketing program, keeping the prospect lightly engaged until they move into a buying process.

    2. “Connect me with a Solution Consultant” [or other presales title]:Offered by some (forward-thinking) organizations, this enables an early Discovery conversation to take place, potentially providing the prospect with additional insights and enabling the vendor to establish a richer relationship early in the process (which predisposes the prospect to return to you vs. other vendors who did not engage).

    3. “Connect me with a Salesperson”:Your prospect may have been sufficiently convinced by your demo to activate a buying process – well done!

    Congratulations – your automated Ignition Demos are now complete!These are designed to satisfy the prospects who are “just browsing” – what about prospects who are in an active buying process?

    Automated Vision Generation Demos

    Terrific news – these are now complete as well! 

    Wait – what?Yes, these prospects can receive and consume the exact same automated demo that you just completed.It’s perfect as it is for those in Use Cases 2 and 3, and likely 5 as well:

    2. I’m early in an active buying process and need to understand which vendors to explore…

    3. I need to get a deeper understanding of each vendors’ offerings…

    (5) I need something to help me communicate and sell internally.

    Vision Generation Demos are designed to provide just enough information to enable (and encourage) a Discovery conversation to take place – and that’s exactly what your completed automated demo will do.Equally delightfully, the 3 call-to-action items are also aligned to these prospects, as well.

    A Subtle Rescue for You

    We’ve just outlined an automated demo for 11 job titles – do you need to have all 11 completed before you release your automated demo?


    In theory, for Consensus demos (for example), you could release as soon as you have your most important 3 job titles completed – “Sales Management”, “Marketing Management”, and “Enablement”, for example.Note that this finesses the job titles loosely but enables you to create and release rapidly.

    As you complete additional job titles, you simply add them to the existing framework.

    Why – What – How…

    Note that your Menu items illuminate the answers to “Why” Discovery questions:Why are you looking at CRM systems?As a (Front-line Sales Manager) prospect, I need:

    • To Improve Forecast and Pipeline Accuracy
    • Better Visibility into Rep Opportunities
    • To Identify and Coach to Rep Strengths and Weaknesses
    • Etc.

    The Situation Slide voiceover descriptions and Illustration screen shots show “What” good things your software can provide to help your prospects solve their problems.

    For prospects who are deeper into their buying cycles, their typical next requests are to see “How” your software actually works.

    For our CRM example, prospects will likely want to understand:

    • How hard is it to use? 
    • How do I enter a new opportunity? 
    • How do I update opportunities?
    • How does it alert me to take action?
    • How do I customize the views?
    • How do I run reports?

    This is where we move from Vision Generation to Technical Proof automated demos – or rather, automated Micro Demos.

    Automated Technical Proof Micro Demos

    Your objective is to provide just enough recorded demo to satisfy the prospect’s desire to understand how tasks are completed – not to provide an exhaustive (and exhausting!) list of all possible capabilities.

    Accordingly, your automated Technical Proof Micro Demos should be structured as follows:

    1. Describe the scenario and the task (Situation Slide format is delightful for this!)

    2. Present the end result (the Illustration) and the associated value

    3. Record driving the software

    a.Begin at a logical starting point

    b.Proceed using the fewest number of steps to reach the end result


    Resist the traditional urge to show all of the “If” and “or” cases.Your job is to make your software look easy to use.Every additional click and option make it look more complicated and increases the risk of “buying it back”.

    How long should these Micro Demos be?As Abraham Lincoln said, when asked how long his pants were, “Just long enough to reach the ground…”The principle applies for Technical Proof Demos – they should take only as long as needed to complete the task.

    Could that be a single click?Yes, absolutely.That’s powerful stuff!

    What if the workflow takes 15 minutes to complete, without side journeys?Then 15 minutes it is.

    Call to action options should also be considered for your Technical Proof Micro Demos, again in addition to “Share with a Colleague”:

    1. “This is exactly what I needed – no further action is necessary.”

    2. “I still have questions, please contact me to discuss.”

    Some Recording Tools

    There are a wide variety of tools available today for recording and hosting your Micro Demos, including Camtasia, Loom, Screencast-O-Matic, Demostack, Navattic, Reprise, Walnut, Capsule, Snackwyze, and others.Some of these provide simple recording, editing and playback capabilities; others offer some elegant refinements (such as mouse motion smoothing); and several provide a much richer environment for prospects to experience your software for themselves (a full listing of these is beyond the scope of this article). 

    General recommendation?Apply Occam’s Razor (simple to start is likely the best approach)! 

    In addition, note that the Consensus framework provides an excellent structure for delivering a “library” of Micro Demos while tracking consumption by prospects. 

    Reusability and Maintenance

    Remember the bad old days when you (or your predecessor) recorded an hour-long “overview” demo?For some folks it took multiple takes due to bugs or voiceover flubs – and remember how relieved you were when the behemoth was finally done?

    And remember how you felt a week later when newly released features made your recording obsolete?

    The bad news is that this will still happen with Micro Demos – but the good news is that you only need to redo a 2-3 minute Micro Demo rather than a full 60-minute production!

    Style vs. Substance

    How well “produced” do your recordings need to be?Simple yet clear, authentic recordings are preferred by prospects and customers.Heavy production with professional voiceovers, custom animation and choreographed music will delay release and make maintenance much more challenging. 

    Presales folks are often the best “performers” for recorded demos.They are already well-practiced in delivering demos, they know the software and likely also know the use cases well. 

    Some additional recording recommendations include:

    • Speak clearly and deliberately
    • Use “universal” English (or other local language), avoid colloquialisms
    • Put some “personality” into the recording – but not too much!“Just the facts, Ma’am…”
    • Mouse smoothly and deliberately when driving your software
    • Use the annotation capabilities in the recording tool to “point” and highlight screen elements

    Activation Energy – and Payoff

    In the world of chemistry and physics, “Activation Energy” is the input energy required to start a reaction – but once kicked-off, the reaction then (generally) proceeds on its own.

    Generating your library of Micro Demos is a major project – it requires investing time and energy to define your plan, reach agreement with colleagues, execute the recordings, and implement the deployment and tracking environment.It also requires an ongoing commitment to keep your library up to date as new capabilities emerge from development and others change.

    This Activation Energy is typically repaid many (many!) times over through the amplification effect that your library enables.Every Micro Demo consumed by a prospect represents one more “overview” or “Harbor Tour” demos that you don’t have to deliver!(Time for a small, but significant “happy dance”!)

    Software presales teams know that typically 30-50% of the demos they deliver live are often “wasted” – resulting in expensive qualification exercises and “No Decision” outcomes.That’s a LOT of waste.Recorded Ignition and Vision Generation Demos can rather dramatically reduce the time traditionally consumed by these activities.Similarly, a library of Technical Proof Micro Demos can release you from repetitive post-Discovery demo meetings.

    A Final Word


    A pundit (OK, me) once noted that “You cannot have a conversation with a book”.And except for the “Choose Your Own Adventure” offerings such as Consensus, prospects and customers cannot have a conversation with an automated demo. 

    When you want to have a conversation during a demo, set up a live meeting to enable the conversation to take place.Note – you can consider a hybrid approach, where an automated demo is shared and a live vendor representative is present in the meeting.Your sales and presales “motions” should provide guidelines as to when to apply a Tech Touch, Low Touch or High Touch tactic, accordingly.

    In summary, for early stage buyers (Use Cases 1 and 2, in particular), automated demos provide prospects with simple, low-risk methods of exploring possible solutions.For buyers who are further along their “journeys”, (Use Cases 3, 4, and 5) automated demos can also offer options to address questions and compress buying cycles. 

    Now it’s up to you – reach out to the automated demo vendors and see if they “drink their own champagne”, using their own tools to engage…!

    Copyright © 2021 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

    Republished with author's permission from original post.

    Peter Cohan
    Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


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