Demo Do: Let Your Champion Drive!

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“Stand away from the mouse and nobody will get hurt!”

 – Salesperson at a tradeshow when a prospect tried running the software themselves

“Our objective is to ‘suspend disbelief.’”

 – Me

Easy to Use?

One of prospects’ most common concerns is, “Will the software be easy to use?” Accordingly, an objective when presenting demos is to make our offerings appear as easy to use as possible.

Sadly, most traditional demos fail to achieve this! Why?

– They fail to discover prospect needs and desires, resulting in a generic demo that is confusing and complicated.

– They show too many features, resulting in Buying It Back.

– They show too many options, in the form of “if” and “or” diversions.

– They answer simple questions in depth, when a crisp “yes” may have been sufficient.

– They show a long “day in the life” story rather than focusing on specific workflows and deliverables.

These habits result in a misalignment between vendors’ desires to generate a vision of “ease of use” and prospects’ actual perceptions. How do we solve this?

Fewest Number of Clicks!

The “Do It” pathway in a Great Demo! is a terrific way to prove ease of use. Just Do It: Execute all demo pathways using the Fewest Number of Clicks. That should be a mantra for everyone who presents demos!

Reducing the number of clicks and moving the mouse deliberately can go a long way towards creating that ease-of-use vision. But there’s another, delightfully effective approach!

Let Your Champion Drive

Wait, what? Won’t they make a mistake and click on the wrong thing?

Possibly, but likely not if you do a dry run ahead of time. And who’s the best prospect player to drive? Your champion! After all, your champion also wants the demo to go well, so they are typically willing to invest a few minutes to practice.

When your prospect drives the demo or part of it, three fabulous advantages are gained:

1. The rest of the audience sees first-hand that their colleague can run the software successfully, proving ease of use.

2. The audience feels that they also can run the software: “If Bob can do it, then certainly I can as well…”

3. The prospect feels a stronger sense of proof of the Specific Capabilities than when the vendor drives. The sense of reality is deeper and there is less perceived “smoke and mirrors.”

An additional advantage is often enjoyed: The demo becomes remarkable. The prospect team talks about the demo afterwards, “You should have seen the demo today. Bob drove and it was really cool!” The result can generate a very positive word-of-mouth effect that ripples through the prospect’s organization.

A Few Pragmatic Guidelines

Work with your champion or other volunteer ahead of time. They need to be comfortable and confident that they know what to do and how to do it. A practice session is a great solution for this.

Interestingly, offering to “Let Your Champion Drive” can also serve to validate that your champion is, indeed, really a champion! They should be willing to invest time to get it right.

Involving your champion in delivering the demo also increases their ownership in the process. This generates a positive feedback loop: The more involved, the more ownership; the more ownership, the more involved.

Another recommendation? Simplify! Consider limiting your champion’s driving to a Do It pathway. The longer the segment, the greater the risk.

What About Online Demos?

This approach also works wonderfully with demos delivered over the web: Just make sure that the tool you use allows your prospect to have “mouse control.” And definitely practice transitioning between you and your champion (or other prospect player) doing the driving!

Two More Options

If no champion is available, you can still contemplate using an audience volunteer. You will have to give guidance on the individual steps, but the effect will still be very positive.

Another approach is to ask the audience while you drive, “What would be my next step?” or “Where should I click to…?” This provides the ability to manage the process and reduces the risk of things going wrong but decreases the impact of a volunteer stepping up to the mouse.

The moral: It is good when you prove your capabilities; it is great when your prospect does it!

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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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