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How to Be a Software Demo Rock Star

April 05, 2016 | By Jill Stanek

  • Presenting a demo when briefing an analyst firm is an excellent opportunity for vendors to bring their software to life
  • Many vendors fail to get their message across and deliver an engaging, informative demo
  • Present your best demo ever by considering four important questions prior to the briefing

As a research analyst at SiriusDecisions, I participate in hundreds of briefings each year. Though many vendors effectively communicate their solutions value, others struggle to and sometimes fail to get their message across and deliver a solid demo.

Software Demo Rock Star

So, how do you ensure you’ll always deliver an engaging and informative demo to an analyst firm? It’s as simple as asking yourself the following four questions:

  1. How familiar is the analyst firm with my company? When you’re briefing an analyst firm, in most cases it is not necessary to use the first quarter of the demo to discuss and update the analysts on the space in which your solution fits. Depending on the analyst firm, they are likely experts in their respective fields and knowledgeable on the solution you are presenting. To put it another way – you aren’t selling us anything, so you can drop the hard pitch.
  2. Who needs to participate in the demo? It’s imperative to select the right resources to not only demo your product, but also clearly articulate your solutions message. Choose an associate or an appropriate resource (e.g. product marketer, analyst relations person) who can talk about your target market and go-to-market message. Next, find a talented sales engineer who can effectively demonstrate the solution. Be sure not to call upon the CEO/CMO of the company often, as these folks are not as hands-on as SE, therefore not the best choice for demoing.
  3. What’s the best way to move through the demo when I have specific use cases to perform? When an analyst firm provides you with specific directions, scenarios or use cases before the demo, it is important to follow them in the exact order in which they are listed. Skipping around from one scenario to another makes it more difficult for participating analysts to follow and compare your solution to other competing solutions. Cadence is also important. Moving through the demo too quickly can cause your audience to lose track of what scenario you’re presenting or the feature being showcased and or think you are trying to skip over weak points in your solution. Conversely, if you move too slowly, you risk losing the analysts’ attention or not leaving enough time to complete the demo/briefing.
  4. What’s the best way to move through the demo when there are no requirements? If there are no directions, scenarios or uses cases to present, be sure to create them prior to the briefing. The goal is to simulate “a day in the life” of the person who will be using the software and how he or she accomplishes his or her daily activities and tasks. For example, if I am a sales rep looking for new content, what are the sequential steps/tasks I need to complete while using your software? Or, if I am a marketer, how would I score and prioritize leads for sales engagement in a timely and logical manner? Taking the time to create use cases brings the software to life and makes a big difference in how it ultimately demos.

Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is a former Analyst in the Technology and Services practice at SiriusDecisions. She brought 15-plus years of experience in information technology, software and research advisory services, including business development, account management, sales, sales operations, pre-sales engineering and systems specialist roles. Follow Jill on Twitter @jschneid18.

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