A true story as told to me by a tier 1 ERP Presales Engineer a couple of months ago.
Every demo venue has its own challenges. No network available for a web-based demo? Ok, this can be a familiar situation at financial and government sites. Not a big issue as this venue was explored ahead of time. And the issue no network availability was understood. So, our illustrious Presales engineer brought two mobile hotspots for connectivity. Setup went smooth and with confidence high, everything tested OK with 15 minutes to go.
With 5 min left before the start time, the audience was starting to get settle into their seats. Checking the demo one more time — “Oh SNAP!” “SERVER ERROR” – access authorization issues. But, it was just working a few minutes ago.
True Presales panic sets in. He tried with the local tech team to access the prospect network — no go and with no surprise. Tried hot spot #1 again, no good. Fired up and tried hotspot #2, no good. Same errors. Aaaargh! It’s now session start time. After a quick chat, the account executive starts the session while troubleshooting continued.
What could be going on? It was just working minutes ago! One more time through everything, head-throbbing panic sets in as the intro was finishing up. In a classic last resort, it’s time to reboot the demo PC. For no known explanation, after the reboot, the authentication errors disappear. Panic subsides.
Sound familiar? Our Presales Engineer did many things right. Let’s review and note: He knew the venue and its connectivity issues. He had a plan with a network alternative, and had a backup alternative. He arrived early and tested his setup. And, tested again before the session start. Kudos for all this prep and process. So I can only conclude it’s like playing hockey — The harder you work, the luckier you get! Success did not escape from this demo prep. Yaay!
Many of us have experienced the above painful, sometimes excruciating scenario. There are big penalties when it happens. First, you look bad, unprofessional and it distracts from what should be happening. Second, your organization loses credibility with your solution and story is instantly hindered due to lack of time. Count the times of:
“I’m setting up as fast as I can, but I can’t access the guest wireless network.”
“The projector is pretty old and only supports low resolutions so my screens will scroll.”
Presales professionals must always work with the sales team to properly prepare the venue for success, whether virtual or onsite. There are challenges and technical skills needed for any type of venue set up. The great Presales professionals know this from vast experiences. Someone new to the Presales role needs to first develop the basic techniques and utilize validated processes to avoid venue-related demo issues, many that are usually avoidable. Let’s explore just a couple of basic venue management elements needed to ensure success.
Projectors & Displays
Even today, a lot of older video technology still sits in conference rooms that can distort high resolution projection, or crop large screens and only show part of your application and desktop. Using projectors with insufficient resolution introduces lots of clicks to scroll screens left and right, up and down, and all of that extra clicking can make an easy thing look hard. Your product looks bad! Ugh! Critical? Bring your own equipment.
For those with a technical bent within Presales, managing and configuring network connectivity may feel natural. However, if your Presales profile leans more strongly towards the functional domain, you probably experience a lot of apprehension in this area. Rule #1! Find a way to control all aspects of the network connection, or find a way to remove the requirement from the demo.
The topic of connectivity includes a myriad of variables and goes far beyond the scope of this article. It is important to understand concepts and best practices to get you pointed in the right direction for a non-eventful demo. Rule #2, don’t forget Rule #1.
And then, there is seating, remote servers, room availability, power, audio, having backup and contingencies. And then, there are remote demos and video conferencing. There is much to learn and understand. Key thing is to stay organized and stay true to best practices and process.
Consider these best practices
- Be skeptical of wireless connections. Use network cables when possible. When demoing from a home office, use cable connections between your Internet router and computer for best performance.
- Prospect networks can be volatile. Confirm and test reliability beforehand, or utilize another approach, e.g. mobile hotspot, videos, etc. Have plan B ready!
- For more critical demos, insist on a pre-demo venue walkthrough to review and validate all venue requirements.
Have other venue management techniques? Let’s connect and continue the discussion. I look forward to the dialog.