Thursday, 23 February 2017

Demo Room Dummies

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Who loves demonstrations more, suppliers or prospects/customers?

I am not sure what you the reader is feeling right now, but I sit through a number of demos, which can frankly be a waste of time. Occasionally I am asked to organise a demo that I know for one reason or another, will be a fruitless errand.

Now most people who know me, understand that I take this stuff extremely seriously. Maybe too seriously.  As an ex-Catholic altar boy, I would probably be setting myself up for hundreds of ‘Our Fathers’ after a Saturday confession, or a fair few years toasting, at gas mark 9 (or they might crank it up to 11) in purgatory, if I set out from the start to undertake such a wicked consultancy sin.

However sometimes, organisations either have fixed ideas about demos, or cannot allocate sufficient resource to have the right staff in the demo, or sessions in it. While it’s said that ‘The Customer is always right’, maybe that needs to be taken into account, but it does not always follows that ‘The Customer is always correct’. If that were right, there would be no need to get a consultant in to organise ‘best practice’, now would there?

Suppliers and clients/prospects need to know why the demo is necessary and what duration is optimal. It’s an answer I can generally, easily navigate to and often suppliers do (at times), honestly flag it up. Sometimes a couple of hours is enough for some ‘standalone’ or ‘niche’ solutions. A supplementary hour might have to be tacked on for the ICT team to explore integration, definitely a subject you need to understand as early as possible.

More elaborate and complex solutions may warrant up to a day. A full housing management system, perhaps many days or even a week or more. (Yes really!).

I once spent six whole days helping demonstrate a module of a housing system each day, in a secret location in the West Midlands. The depth was intense. It was right that was that intense, on that occasion.

In many cases the more risk involved, perhaps the more intense and proscriptive the demos should be. Aside from the demo length, quality of attendees, really matter. I heard one story of a large supplier who suggested a minimum of three days of a particular demo might be optimum. The client pruned it down so much it was an extremely general overview, telescoped into less than one day, with nearly 80 of the wrong people sitting through it, wasting everyone’s time.

Guess what? It was a total waste of time, for managers who did not see it, users who attended to make up the numbers and the demo people, from the supplier, who did not manage to communicate much either.

So readers, take some lessons learnt from the above. Never mind getting the right content at your demos (which I must come back to another time!), at least start with who you have in the room. Fill it with the right staff, everyone will benefit. Fill it with just spare staff, you might as well wheel in the showroom dummies!

If you need  help to navigate the minefield of a particular demo with one or more suppliers, no problem, please be in touch.

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Related Post: Sometimes in projects its useful to have a 'Plan A' up your sleeve... 


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Kraftwerk – Showroom DummiesKraftwerk – Showroom Dummies.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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