About the author: Brian Groth is the Global Channel and Sales Enablement Manager at Planet Labs. He develops the sales process, methodology and content while training the sales organization and partners.
Before my focus on sales enablement, I was a manager of sales engineers at Microsoft, where I directed the development of Microsoft’s largest demo environment that leveraged virtual servers, PCs, and mobile devices.
We presented to numerous Fortune 1000 customers to help advance and win several multi-million dollar technology deals. We deployed the on-premise demo at Microsoft technology centers around the world, which our sales engineers could then localize and present the same demo to customers in their region.
Robert Scoble interviewed my main developer, Mark Berman and me for Microsoft’s MSDN Channel 9 program, which was before he went on to bigger and better things in the Silicon Valley startup world. You can watch the 17-minute video that explains the architecture of the demo environment (please forgive me for my full goatee). At 16:30 minutes in, you can see the “Envisioning Center” where the demo was shown to customers.
How We Prepare to Demo Technology
Before presenting to a customer, my team and I would meet with the lead Account Executive on the deal, as well as any others who were involved on the account, such as a consultant or a sales engineers.
Together, we would determine what the customer needed to see; products to highlight, who would be in the room, and topics to avoid.
After this meeting, my team and I quickly debriefed, discussed how to modify the demo, and then prepared the demo for the meeting with the customer.
Traditionally, it was the CIO and a few other senior managers who we presented to, so we had to know who was who, which is just as important as knowing what to present.
Our Pitch During the Demo
Keep in mind, this was an in-person demo and the room where the demo took place had four mini stages on it.
The customer sat in the theater-style seating as my team and I each took a different part of the stage to present different roles within the demo.
For example, one of my sales engineers role-played the mobile worker, another was a factory floor worker, and I took the office-worker role. From there, we walked through a day-in-the-life of our customer company to show how data and documents flowed from one person to the next throughout the organization.
The idea was to get the customer to envision how their company could operate using Microsoft’s suite of products.
In today’s world of online demos for SaaS solutions, this example might seem out of place, but there are a few key learnings that still apply in today’s market.
Meet with the account team to get a full understanding of the opportunity, the topics to cover, and the people who will be in the room during the demo.
Customize the demo enough so that the customer can envision their life with your solution, but don’t make it so close to their life that they get distracted in things that don’t matter to what you’re trying to demonstrate.
Know your demo environment inside and out, so you can adjust what you demonstrate as the customer reacts to what you show and as questions come up.
How do you prepare for your live demos?