Over my years in IT, I have seen many great demos and presentations. I have also seen a good number that were less than ideal. When there are time constraints or workload challenges, it can often be left to the engineering team to build the important keynote demo or provide the sales team with the technical backup to deliver the compelling demo for a key business opportunity. After all, the engineers are the ones who know how the product works, and they have all those resources available, right?
The Pitfalls of leaving Demo Production solely to the Product Engineering Team
- You end up selling the technology, not the solution. Probably the biggest caution of having deeply technical folks developing a demo is that they pitch the cool stuff the technology can do, missing the “Wow” moment that wins the customers.
- Demos are held together with sticky tape and prayers. Product teams have limited resources too, so their demos can sometimes be the quickest, simplest approach. After all, they need to get back to building the widgets that your company sells! The problem is that these kinds of demos tend to be short-lived and not very scalable.
- You create an aversion to smoke and mirrors. Sometimes it can be better to illustrate what the product can achieve, rather than trying to build a fully functioning environment. Software can sometimes be a little too unreliable or unwieldy to make a strong demo, so you might need to fake some of it. I’ve seen people burn lots of time and energy when all the customer needed was to get a sense of what the software can do. They didn’t need to poke under the hood and see all the gears turning inside.
Now, I have seen engineering teams step up and do a fantastic job, pulling the rabbit out of the hat and winning the day.
The Benefits of Collaboration
Now, I have seen engineering teams step up and do a fantastic job, pulling the rabbit out of the hat and winning the day. But, sometimes, partnering with the engineering team can prove to be more effective.
Stop, collaborate, and listen!
Here are some ways that partnership with the engineering team can be effective:
Control the story.
Always start scoping your demo with the customer story in mind. Ask yourself “what wow moment does this create for my customers?”
Own the timeline.
Avoid the urge to fix a demo at the last second (and sometimes beyond). Be willing to stand up when the clock is running out. Sometimes cutting the scope and delivering a rock-solid demo is better than striving for that magical demo. You run the risk of falling flat when it crashes.
Always ask "how can we repeat this?"
Every demo should be crafted so that it can be delivered again and again. At a minimum, this will save you from the terror when the next exec in line wants to redeliver it. More importantly, it enables the sales team to take the “wow” demos and use them in their customer conversations. This means designing the demos to be packaged and distributed easily.
Improve the language barrier.
When tech folks talk protocol levels, APIs, and micro-services, and the marketing folks talk business processes, opportunities, and messaging frameworks, there’s a mismatch! Having regular briefings between the engineering and marketing teams can improve understanding on how the product works and how it will be marketed. The outcome is a common language that can be used during collaboration on future demos!
If you’ve got a killer product team that understands how to tell a good story with the technology, go for it! If not, think about how you can collaborate to deliver a quality demo without derailing anyone’s schedules. In addition, the demo wizards at 3Sharp would be happy to lend a hand and help tell a compelling story or provide technical muscle to turn customer stories into snazzy demos.