Elements of a good Demo! Part Two: Length and Pacing

Demos can be short or long.
How much is too much?
How much is not enough?
How do I get it right?

A good presales leader answer: it depends...

In training I've attended from Demo2Win, my trainer gave the example of an LP record (google it you millennials), as the length of time a good demo session should take. It represents an idea, and how you can approach it, with a reasonable size audience, with time for intros, discussion and planning next steps. 

You might have several day's of material, or a customer who wants to investigate multiple parts of a major suite of products. Those things could mean for multiple sessions broken up over the course of a day or longer. Think of each of these bits like putting on a new record or album, and structure things accordingly. Don't just put on your Spotify liked tracks list on shuffle and leave it go for the day. You might like that, but other people will forget which parts they like, lose interest and leave early.

Here we're talking about how to get your current material into a format that will only fit on an LP record, structured, as we discussed in Part 1: Why? Suppose you have an hour long slot with your customer, and we suppose you lose time and the start and the end with people coming and going. It is vital that you get through your parts of the demo and summary/conclusion with a chance for the good stuff that are next steps to happen. LPs are split into tracks, dividing up your content in a similar way helps give people bite-sized chunks of information they can understand and remember.

If you have 3 main things to show in your product, each logical segment should have an intro and summary, and you should have an overall introduction/setup and conclusion to the demonstration segments about this solution as a whole.

This gives us about 11 divisions of time

  • 3 demo segments, each with an intro/exit
  • A start, and a conclusion

Working with your rep, you should be able to optimally use this time, and have them add some of the value statements as you go.

This means your 45 minute slot, becomes 11 segments, each around 4 minutes long. You could make the demo parts slightly longer, and cut a bit on build up/talk. However these bits are important, as they let you focus on the customer and check if they are with you. There should be a break between each bit - don't fill the air with your speech.  Ask some questions, listen to answers. Use your customer's answers to help you focus on the important parts. Now you just need to consider, what are the 3 main elements you need to deliver. If you need to transition between screens or products, then perhaps using the segments can help you avoid painful jumps from A->B. 

Don't overcomplicate. You don't need every part to be a big skill testing clickfest demo. Some of the most beautiful demos are fairly static - as the data is helping you tell a story. If there is processing or work that your system does, let it happen in the background as you are between parts. One of the worst things in a demo session is a long statement, everyone watches you click something, and then a long pause while we wait for it to work. You know your system, let it do its work while you are talking, and ask people to watch it, while it is showing its most exciting thing.

Talk at a normal rate. Don't try to squeeze too much into your segments. If your topic is important and needs more time, it might need to be broken into 2 components. Otherwise, you can simplify it down and deliver a higher level or more focused look at the part that is most important.

Take feedback and focus on what works. You don't need to educate your customer on every part of the technology, you just need them to be curious enough to want to see more, and remember what they liked about your session.