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Hosting the Perfect Software Demo Session

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Over the past few weeks, it seems that I have been on the road more than I have been at home. I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to many different customers in many states providing them with an overview and customer demo for SAP Business ByDesign. I’ve noticed that some meetings and demos move along smoothly and others do not. Why is that?

Have you ever been sitting in the demo that drones on and on; the demo where everyone sits fiddling with his or her smartphone; the demo that Doug from Accounting hijacks; or the demo where almost everyone in the room is wondering the same thing: Why am I even here?

There are ways to run effective, efficient demos that leave the customer feeling energized and excited about the product and hopefully solidify their decision to move forward with SAP. Here are some tips.

Have A Specific & Defined Purpose.

Before scheduling the demo, take the time to work internally as a team between sales and value engineering to truly understand the customer requirements, needs, and pain points. Schedule these meetings well before the planned demo so customization can take place.

When you’re scheduling the demo take time to think about who needs to be there. Team members that have a vested interest in the success of the implementation are key contributors and need to be participants.

Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the demo, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the demo, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see. This keeps people focused.

Nothing derails a demo faster than not adhering to the schedule or falling into the dreaded “rabbit hole” where the focus goes to a very specific item that might not have relevance to the other participants. Take this item and put it in a “parking lot”. If there is time on the schedule to circle back and address, great. If not, there can be a follow up later.

There is almost nothing more powerful than a great product demonstration.

When done correctly, a demo allows the customer to see and feel how things will be better if they buy (and worse if they don't).

Rules To Turn Demos Into Sales

Use these rules to make certain your product demos move the sale forward.

Customize the demo. Every customer is unique, so every demo should be uniquely matched to that customer. Before you demonstrate a product, do your research. Check the customer's SEC filings, press releases, conference proceedings, annual reports, published interviews, and so forth to understand the context of the demonstration. As mentioned earlier, schedule preliminary meetings with the customer to discover their requirements. Also gather some specific information about the people or group who'll be viewing the demo. Then change the data and the contents to match.

Tell the customer's story. While you might start with a general overview, the main stage show of the demo should be focused on the specific customer requirements. Nothing is more successful than using the customers nomenclature, their specific materials or services. Making it personal engages the customer not only because they will relate to what you are saying but they will be thankful that you took the time to understand their requirements.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Demos are much more difficult than presentations–because in a demo, you must simultaneously focus on the customer, the effect the demonstration is having on the customer, and the mechanics of the demonstration. So, it's utter madness to try to give a demonstration without rehearsing it at least three times. You'd be amazed how many presenters think they can wing it when it comes to demonstrations. The result is always a disaster.

Test everything beforehand. A bungled demo tells the customer, at a visceral level, that either: You didn't adequately prepare, in which case buying from you is probably a mistake; The product is a piece of crap that fails even under the most forgiving of circumstances; Both of the above.

Never give a demonstration without a dry run. Never assume that the equipment available at a customer site or conference facility will work. And always have a backup plan, with some other sales-oriented activity that can fill the gap if something goes wrong.

Listen To The Customer

My suggestion is even though you are focused on conducting the demo, the most important part of any demo is to listen to the customer. Focus on what they are saying. Does it sound like they are excited about a specific area of the demo? If so, mentally make note to circle back on that. Are they not happy with another section of the demo? If so, then ask the question “why”? Try to understand their question and then answer it in a different way.

Avoid The Demo Disaster

Don’t do the demo disaster where you demo yourself out of a deal. Also, don’t demo yourself into a corner by trying to show too much information. “Keep It Simple Stupid” is something I learned very early in my career and this has never changed. If you can answer a question by looking directly at the customer instead of having your head in a computer screen, this will speak volumes.

Have Fun

I’ll leave you with my last thought which I think is the most important part of any demo: HAVE FUN! If you are not having fun showing the product and talking to the customer, why should the customer enjoy the demo or want to purchase the product? Now get out there and create some awesome demos!



Navigator Business Solutions has helped more than 500 companies make the change to a World-class SAP ERP solution. Applying our unique knowledge and best practices help make the inevitable change smoother and more effective.

Jonathan Corey | Value Engineer

As a Navigator Value Engineer, Jonathan helps Navigator customers and prospects select the best SAP solution for their business by acting as a single source of in-depth industry, and product knowledge.

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