Delivering a successful demo depends on how you prep

Sep 16, 2019 5:51:31 PM

IT companies like TEAM live and die by the demo.  There’s no way around it. If you’re going to play in the IT space, you’re going to be doing a lot of demos.  And not all of them are going to hit the mark, all of the time…

I have found this is especially true for product demos, because while it’s easy to show off all the features and functions of a product; an in-depth, canned demo often ignores the most important person in the room — the customer.  It’s easy to lose people’s attention and interest if they feel like they’re getting the standard pitch; they may not be interested in your company credentials or the generic features and functions of your product. They want you to cut to the chase; to tell them that you’ve understood their specific business challenges and that you’ve got a solution to solve them.

Then compare the people from the business (who own the business problem) with the folks from the IT team, who are often more interested in the technology and how it’s deployed. So you can see how difficult it can be to tailor a generic product demo to everyone in the room.

Know your customer and your audience

That’s why it’s important, to be specific when you’re doing a demo.  It means knowing your customer and your audience - the people in the room.  What specific issues or business challenges do they need to solve? What is their role, and what do they care about most?  If you can’t answer these questions ahead of time, your demo is dead before it begins, and when you factor in the time already taken to get the opportunity to the demo stage, delivering a bad demo can have a negative impact on your business. 

I confess that we have been guilty of this in the past. I remember one demo that was executed flawlessly from a technical standpoint, but the customer never said a word, and it was clear that we’d missed the mark.  At that point, it became obvious to me that we needed to make a change. Our existing process of holding "demo discovery" meetings to collect information before delivering the demo simply wasn’t working. We weren’t collecting the information we needed to know what the customer wanted.  If it wasn’t good enough for them, it wasn’t good enough for us. 

Improving information gathering through tech

Because gathering the right information was such an obvious challenge, we made rectifying that problem our first priority.  We decided to change our preparation processes to ensure that we were doing everything we could to capture all the information about the customer, their business challenge and the priorities of all the different people who would attend the demo. 

When we looked at this, we were already tracking all our sales opportunities, prospective customers and customer contacts in our CRM.  We also were saving documents like proposals, contracts and statements in our M-Files content management platform, linking companies to contacts, opportunities and documents like contracts and statements of work.

What we needed now was a solution to bring all that data together, with the extra information we needed to capture to deliver a truly compelling demo. 

At first, we tried to launch a new process by creating a form in Word, but found it was too easy for pertinent information — or the form altogether — to be ignored.  This led us to up our game, and we built a really simple form for capturing customer information on an electronic forms or eForms tool, complete with an underlying workflow that ensured that all information was captured and collated, in time for us to prepare properly for the demo.  The beauty of the eForm developed on a platform like Frevvo is that it’s super simple to create, really straightforward to use, and it handles changes without any drama or undue effort. We can apply real world learning as we go - like removing questions that prove in practice to be irrelevant or adding new steps for more complex demos to bigger customers.  The platform can seamlessly handle these changes and adapt to our business and our customers’ businesses. 

Our field sales and customer support people also really appreciated that the forms can also be completed as web pages on mobile or a laptop, so they could enter data out of the office.  Everybody now has the option to attach images, links and/or documents relating to the opportunity and the demo - all information is linked to a single customer record, whether it’s the customer data in our CRM or the customer documents in our M-Files ECM.  Compared to a document-based form or a manual, email-based process of allocating tasks and managing them, the eForms approach is much easier, and it’s much, much more effective.   

Going forward

Since we implemented this process change, we’re in a better place with customer demos.  We’re more prepared, the preparation process is fast becoming second nature, and the quality of the demo and the interaction with the customer is way better than this time 6 months ago.  Whether we win the deal or not, the customers know that we’re taking them and their business seriously and that we’ve done our homework – that leaves a great impression and helps us build the partnerships we aim for.

Learning more

This is one of our stories, where we made the decision to consume one of the solutions that we deliver to our customers.  It’s helped us to be a more customer-focused organization and it’s also given us a great insight into our customers’ world – including what it means to put some of these solutions and practices into place. 

Our story is the tip of the iceberg.  If you’ve found this interesting and would like to learn more, our latest eBook “Top 10 must-have features of workflow automation” is your ticket to learning how process automation can redefine your business. Download our eBook today and learn more about what workflow automation can do for you.

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