Preparation is the Key

I know, it seems obvious, but preparation is definitely crucial to the success of your presentation/demo.

The other day I watched a presentation by Jesse Desjardins called "You Suck at Powerpoint – 5 Shocking Design Mistakes You Need to Avoid".

Along with many useful design mistakes, he made an interesting observation that

Most experts say: An outstanding 1-hour presentation takes 30 hours or more of prep time.

— Slide 39

Shortly after I was doing a demo with our European sales rep. It was the first time we had demo'd together and during the post demo debrief our VP Sales, Tom Smith, observed that role playing the demo together could have smoothed out a few rough edges in our interaction. This was especially important given everyone on the call was remote from each other.

In the book "Great Demo", by Peter Cohan, he discusses the cost of a failed demo. As this can be quite significant, including loss of the sale, it pays to take the time to prepare properly.

Now this got me thinking – just how much time should we invest in preparing for a demo?

Obviously there’s the time spent setting up your demo environment, ensuring you have data/examples relevant to the customer and identifying the key features of your product that the prospect is really interested in. However there is also the time spent with the sale rep going over the "game plan" for this particular customer.

Now I normally work with our APAC sales rep and he and I have built a good report. Interestingly this was built initially face-to-face when he was on a sales trip to Australia. In the case of the demo with the European sales rep, while we had prep'd with the customer the technology to do the remote demo, we hadn't spent any time together going over how we would interact during the demo.

So, the time to prepare for a great demo can be quite significant and involve setting up the demo, and working through the approach with the sales rep. Of course, if you are doing a demo for the first time with a sales rep, then you need to invest even more time working out your interaction and how each of you prefers to work with the prospect during the demo.

At the end of the day, all of this effort is there to maximise your success in the demo and ensure you move even closer to closing the deal. So spending less time preparing could be lead to a failed demo.

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