Using the Bicycle Story to Get Customers to Talk


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A recent Great Demo! Workshop participant noted that we can use the “bicycle story” (follows in a moment, be patient…) to encourage customers/prospects to talk about their needs and interests – rather than to show them a long stream of stuff they are not interested in. Here’s the story:

“You are riding a bicycle rather fast. You skid on some gravel and fall, scraping your legs and arms. You are bleeding moderately and you hurt, but your bike seems to be ok.

Someone sees you fall and comes to offer help. He offers you water – but you aren’t thirsty, you’re bleeding. He offers you a patch kit for your bike, but your tires are fine – and you are still bleeding. Now you are not only hurt, but also irritated! He offers food, music, asthma medicine, dancing girls, a new chain, a map, handlebars, bicycle bags, and a cell phone.

All are very nice offers, but clearly what you need is:
1) a few bandages and
2) a couple of aspirin”

The point behind the story, of course, is to present the Specific Capabilities the customer is interested in, rather than present a pile of features and functions that are of no interest for the customer at that time.

The Workshop participant commented that many customers will say, “Just show us what you have…” instead of allowing a discovery or qualification session to take place. He noted that sharing this story (via a PowerPoint slide) may help the customer realize that a conversation before doing a demo makes better sense!

Copyright © 2009 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

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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.


  1. This is a great story to start a demo. Make it a capabilities presentation based on pain points your can help instead of a spray & pray. I like it. Thanks


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