… as told to me by a tier 1 ERP Presales Engineer just last month.
Two hours before the demo was to start, word came in from the prospect that the scheduled demo time is being cut from 2 hours to 1 hour. Great! (Not!) “So what are we going to do? Who’s not going to be in the room? What key things still need to be shown? What should we do with the benefit summary and discussion set for 90 minutes into the session?” Gees! So much for all that prep! After a bit of discussion with the team, a plan came together.
Often, you don’t get 2 hours’ notice that your session time is getting cut. You should never have all your key demo items and value propositions at the end of the session. Whether people start leaving the room, or the demo just runs long, you do not want the lack of time to hinder the ability to communicate key messages. Important lesson! Key messages need to be delivered throughout the session. They should be identified and noted as a priority so if the agenda needs to change at the last minute, moving demos and messaging can be rational exercise.
Even for the simplest of short demos, have a plan. For example, the call is planned for 30 minutes. Your account exec is new to you. You should work with your account executive and make a simple demo schedule. Such as 5 minutes for introductions, 20 minutes of solution demonstration and key messages to deliver, followed by 5 minutes of questions, feedback and next steps. Nothing formal, but with a quick chat, you have a demo schedule. Having a demo schedule keeps chaotic demo event under control. You know by planning in advance, if the prospect starts asking a lot of questions and /or slows things down, you’ll be focusing on the most important messages. And, the account exec also knows that he/she needs jump in at the 25 minute mark to ask for more time, or setup another time to continue the demo.
Now, let’s look what can happen without a schedule. Presales staff loses track of time and the demo runs long. Demo time expires and Presales is stopped mid-sentence. Key selling messages are not delivered. More importantly, the account executive has no time to summarize benefits and work on next steps in working the account. The session is a sub-standard demo making poor used of time with the prospect.
The 1/2 Time Test (Critical To Do!)
All demo schedules should be subjected to the 1/2 time test. In longer one-day+ demos, test the scenario your key prospect decision maker will be gone in the afternoon when you planned your unique differentiating demos. What becomes of the schedule? What key messages must remain? Does the order of the presentation need to change? What would you do?
If your demo events are scheduled, documented and shared with the account team, it’s easy to open the agenda spreadsheet or document and have a quick conversation. Without a documented demo schedule, there is a lot of conversation, chaos and increased odds of session failure.
Consider these best practices
- Practice demos and measure the time it takes to deliver a demo topic or presentation
- Always perform a ½ time test. It happens more often than you think.
Have other demo scheduling techniques? Let’s connect and continue the discussion. I look forward to the dialog.