Vendor demonstrations or “demos” as they’re called in the industry are an important part of the technology product review phase. Unfortunately, these demos are typically despised by both business owners and vendors. Vendors don’t look forward to reciting a dry PowerPoint presentation and business owners don’t look forward to “wasting” two or more hours of their day. The funny thing is that this emotional response is what usually results in its failure. Here are a few tips for both vendors and business owners in order to make your next demo a success.
Prepare Ahead of Time. Prepare for the demo by collecting all of the information you’ve received from the vendor up to this point. What do you want to see in the demo? What should the vendor focus on? Reach out to the vendor ahead of time and send them your thoughts on the demo, noting what’s important for you and your stakeholders.
Ask Questions. I’ve seen many demos where business owners don’t ask any relevant questions. This is your chance to ask the vendor about their product. Prepare a list of questions before the demo if needed.
Respect the Vendor. They traveled to your site for a reason. Sure they’re salespeople and they do this all the time. However, I’ve seen business owners act very disrespectfully to vendor reps during demos. There’s no reason for that, everyone should be treated with respect.
Plan the Logistics. Make sure that the conference room is ready and that the vendors have wireless access (if needed) along with anything else required for the demo. Reach out to the vendor ahead of time and ask them how many people will be attending. Also, think about questions like “Does the vendor need security access?”, “Do we need to serve lunch?”, or “Do we want to have coffee available?” This may seem like small potatoes now, but I’ve seen hours wasted due to poor logistical planning.
Listen. I’ve been in many demos where business owners ask the same question two or three times because they were checking their phone or weren’t paying attention. Listen so that you don’t waste your time and the time of those attending the demo.
Arrive on Time. This is especially true if there are several vendor staff members attending the demo. There’s nothing like starting the demo and having four more vendor staff members trickle in over the course of an hour apologizing for their “late flight”. If flights are that hard to come by to get to the business owner’s site, don’t come in person, instead make it a webEx.
Disregard Pack Mentality. Don’t travel in packs unless absolutely necessary. If this can’t be avoided, let the business owner know up front that you’ll be bringing multiple colleagues. It throws a lot of business owners off when they’re expecting two people and they end up walking into Oracle World.
Ditch the PowerPoint. Don’t spend an hour on your PowerPoint presentation, get down to brass tacks and show off your product. The PowerPoint is only going to tell your customers so much since it’s a static representation of your product. The PowerPoint presentation can be 10-15 minutes, but from there, start the demo.
Schedule Breaks. The human mind can only process so much information. On top of this, folks need to use the restroom and check their messages. Don’t hold your business owners hostage for 2 hours while you take them through the XML feeds. Schedule ten minute breaks each hour to keep everyone’s blood flowing.
Prepare Ahead of Time. Similar to the advice I gave the business owners above, schedule a discovery meeting with your internal business owner(s) before the demo to understand exactly what they want to see in the demo.