Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The First Online Tech Demo!

Gizmodo have a great article on the mother of all technical product demos.
45 Years Ago, Doug Engelbart Gave the Most Important Tech Demo Ever

This demo was the first to use a mouse and keyboard, first to demonstrate 'modern' web technology (such as dynamic linking and hypertext links), and audio visual collaboration across a network link.  In its way it is the first webinar!

If you have a spare 90 minutes I would suggest watching the video - it shows great historic value and technique.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Every Sales Engineer needs an SSD!

Read this well written article on Wired today.  http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-11/25/ssd-test

Now that you can get a 1TB SSD drive for £400 or $600, there is no reason not to make your demo machine fly, even if you just replace your HDD.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Demoing and Selling Cloud Based Solutions

A few thoughts today on how you can showcase Cloud based solutions in demos to customers.
Firstly I was reading about Why Salesforce is Winning the Cloud Platform War and it made me think about Cloud Platforms in general.  Solutions are running either on some proprietary platform, one of the leading platforms (like Salesforce - force.com) or else some hybrid using rackspace.com or other providers of hosting space.
The main advantage to the enterprise is of integration.  Being able to buy one cloud based product and integrate it internally or with other solutions you buy.
This is also one area of weakness or concern many customers have shown.
Another big advantage is security. If you can ride on an existing secure model and not have to put a lot of effort into building (and proving) a new security model then you can put more effort directly into your solution.
Most of these things only really affect the way you would answer RFPs or questions from customers on your solution.

To sell a good Cloud solution to your customer, you still need to meet the key needs - which should be whatever your product is meant to do in the first place.
Secondly if you are selling a cloud deployment model, then that needs to make your solution more relevant to the customer, rather than being a limitation.

If you think of those two points, then you should make your presentation focus on those pieces - what does it do, why is this relevant for this customer, and why should having it available as a cloud solution be more beneficial.

Monday, July 29, 2013

11 Ways to to avoid Incredibly Bad Demos

I had the fortune to sit through a demo recently where everything went wrong.  To the credit of the presenter (who had a large room of audience members) they were able to cover and continue with the overall presentation without letting it get to them.  

How can you ensure your demo doesn't go wrong?  How can you show technical concepts clearly without distracting or losing your Audience?
  1. Tell them what you will do, tell them you are doing it, tell them when you are done
  2. Get your screen set up early.  Size the screen resolution, window sizing before you get up to present, so that it doesn't surprise you
  3. Use large size high contrast and bold fonts and no more than 20 rows of text or data
  4. Full screen your demo. Hide any envelope program's like virtual layers. Close unnecessary windows, make OS screens look like standard vendor defaults.  Remove shortcuts and icons you don't need.
  5. Explain the meaning of the complex commands you run. Don't assume people know what you type on the command line, or quick sequences of clicks in your program window.
  6. Put optional or supplementary material in a tidy folder that is easy to reach and not distracting
  7. Don't play with the mouse or resize windows. Especially on webinars!
  8. Keep the conversation progressing while waiting for tasks to run. Have a good anecdote or description of the process that takes the time.  Ask for questions.
  9. Don't tell people the problems you have with your demo system. This lowers their confidence in the technology and defeats the purpose of demonstrating it.
  10. Caution people when you make a deliberate error - this can be a good thing to do - in moderation - but make sure we understand an expected warning or error.
  11. If the system really crashesapologize and explain what they should have seen and move on. Don't make it the end of the world.
As with any presentation, moderate the length to ensure you are meeting expectations.  A meeting or presentation doesn't have to explain everything there is about your product or solution. It should be entertaining, informative and to the point.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Update: Sales Engineers to Sales Reps ratios

I decided to update the SE ratio information I published in October due to the extra responses received since publishing. The new data is also very interesting and reinforces what we had found before.

I still see that most organisations want to have a lower ratio (or more SE resource available to each sales rep).

It would be very interesting to hear the stories of why people think this is the case. There could be many reasons, such as:
  • SEs are spread thinly, not being able to focus on important customers enough
  • The breadth of knowledge is too much - it is hard for SEs to be knowledgeable enough in all areas
  • There is headcount availability but we can't find anyone we'd like to hire.
If you have any anecdotes, please let me know! Either comment here or twitter  @salesengguy