Customers are considering more than one vendor when they’re researching a solution which means they’ll be watching more than one demo. In a recent DEMOFEST 2023 session, Ron Whitson shared that customers look at 5-10 vendors when evaluating software solutions (source: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology).
That’s a lot of demos just to find one solution. If you’re not careful, your demo will blend into the noise of all the other demos the customer watches during their evaluation. To rise above the noise, take the advice Ron gave in his session and follow the 4 techniques he’s developed to make a memorable demo every time.
The challenge Presales faces
SEs don’t always consider everything their audience has going on before they deliver their demo.They’re not customers, they’re people with busy lives and full time jobs, just like Presales. They might not have even had much notice the demo was coming and might have gotten tagged to be in the meeting the day before it was scheduled.
Finally, they get to the actual presentation, but even then it starts with the salesperson going through all their slides trying to charm everyone in the meeting. So after 20 minutes of the customer hearing how great the vendor company is, how much analysts love them, how many other amazing companies use the product, the SE gets their turn to speak.
This is where you really risk losing your audience. If you’re not clearly showing how you differ from your competitors, your audience will lump you all together because to them, all these pitches sound and look the same.
Special thanks to David Campbell for creating this video!
Techniques to Rise above the noise
To differentiate yourself and your solution from the rest of the competition, follow these simple techniques.
Be a Friendly Human
Most people think they’re a friendly human, and they’re probably right. But this technique goes deeper than being cordial to those around you. You’re trying to make a connection with your audience which can be especially challenging if you’re presenting virtually.
Even if you’re presenting through a camera, it’s still important to make sure you’re smiling, you’re making eye contact (or camera contact) so your audience has physical cues you’re listening to them. If you’d like more coaching on these kinds of skills, Ron suggests checking out Julie Hanson as she has extensive experience surrounding this.
Active listening is a must. No one wants to be that person who jumps in to answer a question before the asker finishes asking it. As Ron likes to tell his team, “We have two ears and one mouth, and we’re supposed to use them in that proportion.”
Then finally, you want to make authentic connections with the people you’re talking with. Try to find common ground with them, but don’t be so eager to connect that it comes off as inauthentic. People are pretty good at spotting someone who’s trying to force authenticity. Instead, focusing on being interested in other people and showing empathy will create the overall positive atmosphere you want.
Tell a Story
Every memorable demo has good storytelling. Not only will a compelling story keep their attention better, the audience will retain the main message longer because they’ll have something to latch onto. Stories are how we as humans have shared information since the dawn of history. If someone mentions a tortoise and a hare, everyone knows they’re talking about the Aesop’s fable which has been around for about 3000 years.
Including strong visuals that you connect back to your main points will help your audience create an association between the ideas and the images and allow them to remember it tomorrow or the next day. And this can be an opportunity to further personalize the demo. Not every story will resonate the same with every audience, so you need to carefully choose connections that fit their specific situation.
Ron gives the advice, “I don’t believe it’s a formula or a template for storytelling that needs the protagonist that then runs into this villain which is the business problem. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Focus on sharing information and doing it in a way that’s simple and using some shared language so you become a friendly human telling a good story.”
Deliver a Benefit
Arguably the most important technique is deliver a benefit. It’s really another way of saying give the audience a reason to care. For those in B2B, it could be the savings in cost, shortening deal lengths, the ability to obtain customer insights, or an improved user experience. Whatever it is, make sure you highlight what it is and how it differs from your competitors.
Ron gave the example of Siebel and Salesforce. “Not too long ago there was a CRM called Siebel. Basically everybody had that software until all of a sudden there was a new thing called Salesforce that had an updated user experience. Because Salesforce provided a much improved user experience to what people had back then, many people made the switch over.”
Stay High Level
Even if your solution is complex, you want to stay at a high level. You want to explain the concepts simply so people will remember them. Ron compares this to staying at 30,000 feet. You keep the main concept simple, so when questions come up, you can dive down to address that one concept then return back up to cruising altitude to avoid overwhelming the customer.
This concept may be difficult for those professionals who are especially technical. Whether it’s because you have an extremely thorough understanding of the product or you came from a position where you were in charge of actually implementing the solution, you risk overwhelming the customer with too much information if you delve too deeply into the product.
You’ll leave the customer with a better understanding of the solution and what it does if you focus on the high points and stay out of the weeds. Better yet, they’ll be able to explain the basic workings of the solution with others in the buying group after your presentation is done.
To leave a lasting impression on the customer doesn’t require some magical formula. There are four techniques you can use to make a real impact. Being a friendly human and connecting to the customer, incorporating storytelling into your presentation, highlighting the benefits you provide, and keeping your explanation at a high level all help your demo stick in the customer’s mind. Making yourself stand out from the rest of the competition is fairly simple if you follow these techniques.