Here at 3Sharp, we’ve been building technical sales enablement tools, such as live demos, since our inception in 2002. We are strong proponents of great live software demos.
However, even we agree that there are times that other alternatives are preferable.
Benefits of a Live Demo
There is something special about a live demo that lends credibility and almost a “moral authority” to your product. An authentic, hands-on demo, is a proof point, convincing skeptical customers of the reality of your solution. Furthermore, a live software demo gives you the ability to adjust the path through your product for each customer. When a customer asks a question, you can address it by showing the answer with the product.
The Risks and Benefits of a Video
There are very few times we would ever recommend a video over a live demo. However, there have been times that we’ve done it, and even a handful of times (in our 16-year history) that we’ve recommended it. The danger is that your audience may think your product/new feature/etc. is not ready to be shown. And certainly, if it is not ready to be shown, it is not ready to be purchased and implemented at their companies. If you use the analogy of the pig and chicken opening the breakfast store, you are the one selling the renewable resource. It’s your customer who’s butt is on the line!
The benefits of using a video during your live demo can outweigh the risks. Here’s how:
Your demo is guaranteed to work.
There is no worrying about finding the undiscovered bug, mistyping something or accidentally clicking the wrong thing.
You do not need to learn the click-path (just the talk track).
We’ve watched more than one executive during keynotes accidentally find their way off the demo path during a live demo. The great ones recover and use it as a teaching moment, the others switch to a backup. You’re guaranteed to stay on track with a video!
A 3Sharp Customer Experience
Recently, we supported an internal all-hands meeting for a very large division of one of the largest software companies in the world. A senior VP was scheduled to talk to his team in a stadium. He wanted to do the demo himself – to show the team some of the cool things they had done over the past year. The team was big enough where not everyone knew what each other was working on. Because he was an extremely busy SVP and didn’t have time to learn a demo, as an alternative, we filmed a video and gave him a talk track.
In this situation there is one very important thing to keep in mind: He did not need to gain trust with his audience. They knew he wouldn’t be lying or making up the work that he’d be showing off. They were not skeptical customers or partners; they were part of his internal team, where trust was already built.
All this SVP needed to do was lean on the talk track. There was no need to learn the click steps. He didn’t have to worry about the ability to handle any issues that arose – it was beta/alpha software, after all.
This demo was a hit and got a lot of excitement from the SVP’s team, as well as ours!
The Magic of a Click-Through
Many companies are starting to move to an alternative: click-through environments. These can be HTML, locally run apps or even customized PowerPoint decks. At a minimum, these will show progressive screenshots of product screens. However, they almost always are enhanced enough to mimic the real environment, with delayed load times, menu animations, etc.
Click-Through environments work well for large, distributed sales team who are responsible for many different products. They are a great backup (or even primary) environments for every sales person to have in their toolbox.