How Much Demo Do You Need? (“Just the right amount, please…”)


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Imagine yourself as a customer in the following situation:  You’ve decided you need to improve your sales forecast and pipeline management system – you are using Excel today and it just isn’t sufficient anymore.  You’ve just started to explore what kinds of new tools are available and what options they provide.  You visit a number of vendors’ websites to learn about their offerings – you’d like to get an idea of what is out there and kinds of solutions are available. 
What level of demo from these vendors do you need at this stage?
Time passes, you’ve done more investigation, reduced your list of candidates and had discussions with a few vendors about their offerings – one of which did an excellent job doing “Discovery” with you.  You are interested in seeing how their offering might really work in your environment. 
What depth of demo are you looking for now?
Let’s compare these two scenarios:
In the first situation, you are looking for a “Vision Generation” demo – just enough to give you an idea of what is possible.  You are not interested in how to set things up, how things work “behind the scenes”, and all of the customization and configuration options.  Vision Generation demos should be crisp – and brief…!  Just a few key screens that illustrate what a solution might look like in your hands.  And, at this point, most likely you are only going to be willing to invest a few minutes to explore any particular product.
In the second situation, you’ve selected one or a few products as good possible solutions for your organization and now you want to how well they will really fit.  Will this product map to our specific sales process steps?  How about the way our regions are organized – and can it handle the products and licensing strategy that we use?  Your vendor should have invested a good chunk of time doing Discovery with you to discuss and understand your specific situation.  The demo that results from this discussion is called a “Technical Proof” demo and should be focused entirely on the specific capabilities you are looking for in a solution.  These demos might run much longer than Vision Generation demos.  Depending on your job title and depth/breadth of needs, a Technical Proof demo might run 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 2 hours, or longer.
DemoChimp ( provides a delightful solution for Vision Generation demos.  The ability to enable customers to choose the segments of interest to them maps wonderfully to the idea that “One Size Doesn’t Fit All”.  The solution envisioned by a VP of Sales for a sales forecast and pipeline management system is likely different from that of a sales person, and different again to someone supporting channel partners, and different yet again to someone in sales operations or product marketing. 
So how much demo do you need?  Just the right amount.  For Vision Generation, demos need to be brief, to the point, and focused on “what” good things the offering can do to help customers visualize solutions to their problems.  For Technical Proof, the resulting demo should address the specific capabilities uncovered in a Discovery conversation. 

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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