March 22, 2021

The software demonstration, a living show

By Patrick Chabannes

The demonstration of a business software, far from being dominated by the product of reason, is a live show where the emotions of the spectators reign in the skillful narration and the staging of a play rehearsed many times by talented actors. Let’s share the essential points so that the curious skeptic in every buyer chooses the software solution and not the brilliant actors. 

Looking for the WOW effect

The vendor’s pre-sales team is made up of its best people. How many deals have I won only because of the talents of artists like Anélyia, Jérémy, Amen, Sébastien, Mohssin or Jacques ? Talented pre-sales people are able to, honestly, build a business narrative to take you to the wow effect inscribing that moment in your emotional memory. This is neither good nor bad. But if the sales team is trained to convince you, you should be trained to actively listen as a curious skeptic.

Separate the performance of the software solution presented from that of the actors in the sales theater

In a live show, actors can be more or less fit during a performance. Some are just starting out, have not learned their lines well or do not connect with the audience. Does this mean that the script and text should be thrown away ? The mediocrity of the performance can hide a beautiful solution adapted to your context. Don’t be afraid to give the product that might make you happy for the next five to eight years a second chance. Keep your critical thinking skills sharp and separate the performance of the solution from that of the actors.

Help yourself ! Ask questions without including the expected answer

How many times have I heard these questions phrased like this: “If I understand correctly, can we add an ad hoc field ? “or “Does your software integrate well with SAP ? ” 
But how can you expect the artist in charge of convincing you to say no ? Your questions are valuable and you should not be afraid of a negative or incomprehensible answer. Moreover, in the vast majority of competitions, calls for tender, that I have run, the time for questioning was always under-dimensioned. Then, saved by the bell, relieved, the editor leaves the place without having to reveal the weak points of his offer. The questioning time is both serious and forgotten.

The necessary scenario of the demo must guide without confining

You have reviewed your processes, written the expectations of the demonstration, described a scenario. It’s perfect. Three points to remember though:

  1. Among the long list of features listed at great expense, write next to them the five or six vital functions that carry your ROI.
  2. Don’t close the door to a reorganization of your demo scenario.
  3. And above all, keep time and curiosity to discover possible technological innovations even at the cost of changing your processes.

Searching for the soul of the editor and the software solution

Software is like a painting. Palimpsest or renovation, crust or genius, a software is a human creation marked by the life of men and of the company. The cycle of demonstrations must allow you, certainly to judge the functionalities and the user experience, but first and foremost to understand the soul of the editor to be able to bet on its capacity to follow you for the next ten years. 

Lectori salutem, Patrick Chabannes
“The mind likes better what confirms its knowledge than what contradicts it.” Gaston Bachelard.