- Misunderstand the customer’s needs: “Harbor Cruise.” Don’t make a demo in the hope that your customer will eventually see something of interest. Inexperienced salespeople often inflict these demos on their customers as a replacement for doing their homework. Jaded sales engineers offer these demos when they receive little or no pre-demo information from their sales colleagues. Do the research to figure out what your customers need in advance.
- Start with a corporate overview: “Death by Corporate Overview…” You should see a pattern developing here: Get right to it. Don’t start the meeting with twenty minutes of corporate overview and by regaling your audience with your mission statement (yawn), company history (yawn), revenues, office locations, markets, products, and that smorgasbord of customer logos (yawn, yawn, yawn, snooze…). This strategy ensures that the most important people leave before you can start the demo itself and everyone is bored when you do. Your corporate overview won’t matter unless you suck the audience in with your demo.
- Present a linear demo from beginning to end: “In the Beginning…” Have you ever watched a demo and ten minutes into the process you find yourself wondering, “Where is this going? What is he making? How does this apply to us?” You can ensure the same awful fate for your customers by delivering long, linear demos that take forty or sixty minutes to reach the pay-off. The order of the day is to show a great result and then briefly show how easy it is to produce it.
- Do a feature dump: “Here’s Another Thing You Can Do.” Want to make your software appear as confusing and complex as possible? Want to find more ways to bore and torture your audience? Want to reduce the price they pay for your software? It’s easy: show as many features as you can! You shouldn’t present your demo as if it’s product training: “Let me show you how to do this, that, and this other thing…” Explaing all of the menus, tabs, navigation and customization capabilities is a sure way to inflict pain.
- Show the same demo: “Everyone Loves This Feature.” Don’t ignore that the VPs who are potential customers only want a top-level overview and that the customer managers are interested only in their portion of the process. If you use the same demo no matter who’s in the room, you will bore the senior customer participants, and they will leave early. You’ll have done training for the end-users, but the training won’t be necessary since you won’t get the deal!
Avoid these Stunningly Awful Demo practices if you want your demos to kick butt. If you don’t, you’ll just be a SAD failure.