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Do You Deliver Stunningly Awful Software Demos? Peter Cohan Bursts 12 Common Blunders (Page 2 of 3)

Blunder #5: As your software grows, so does your demo.

"With new releases of software, have you ever seen a demo get shorter?" asks Cohan. "Never. With each successive release of the software, we add more and more features and functions to the demo. We show all the original stuff, plus all all the new cool stuff. 

"The result is an ever-growing demo that makes customers feel like they're sitting in front of a fire-hose delivery of features and functions."

The Fix: "Make your demo conversational," Cohan says. "Hold those new features and functions behind your back, and let your customer ask about them. That way, the customer is engaged. It becomes a conversation, and it's a much more comfortable process for everybody."

Blunder #6: Your demo runs on and on and on.

"This goes along with trying to show too much and running out of time," says Cohan. "People tend to go from one capability to the next seamlessly, often bridging with a phrase like, 'And the next really cool thing I want to show you is...'"

The Fix: "Organize your demo in chunks, in consumable components that can be entered into in as much depth as the customer wishes, and then exit before going on to the next chunk," Cohan says.

"A way to punctuate between chunks is to summarize -- tell them what you just told them -- and the indicator is people nodding their heads; that's your sign that they are ready to go on to the next chunk."

Blunder #7: You suffer from Experts' Disease.

"This is a common mistake that pushes the boundaries of time as well as boredom," says Cohan. 

"You let customer questions drag you off-track and down deep, dark pathways, causing bored audiences and running out of time due to technical details."

The Fix: "Instead of going down those pathways, park questions that you don't need to answer right away," Cohan says. "Write them down, confirm your understanding, then defer answering for your Q&A period later in the meeting. 

"Or, offer a teaser -- a short, partial answer to appease the questioner to acknowledge his brilliance, but at the same time not letting him drag you off track. 'Yes, we do X, but there's more to that answer, so let me come back to that later.'"

Blunder #8: Your online demo preparation is quick and casual.

There's nothing inherently wrong with doing your demo online, but too many software companies invest too little energy in preparing. If the online demo is set for 10:00 a.m., they flip the switch at 9:59 a.m. and are surprised if it doesn't go smoothly.

"For online demos, you need to treat the preparation as if you are face-to-face," Cohan says. 

"Think about it: When we arrive onsite for a face-to-face demo, we typically arrive 15 to 30 minutes early so that we can get set up, check the technology, make sure everything is working." 

The Fix: "For online meetings, apply the same principle," says Cohan. "Set up a meeting time 15 minutes before the actual meeting is to begin, and send that invitation to your champion. 

"Then send a second invitation to everyone else who is to be in the meeting. That way, when everyone comes into the meeting on the hour, everything is set up and professional."

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