Sep 19, 2019
I was in Chicago for a conference recently and took a break from an exhausting day to sneak away to the gym for a quick workout before dinner. We were in a beautiful hotel overlooking one of the canals that feeds out to the lake. As I worked up a sweat taking long strides on an elliptical machine, I glanced down at one point and noticed a tour boat making it's way down the river. The patio area on the top of the boat was about half filled with tourists listening to the tour guide, whom I'm guessing was pointing out various buildings and architectural details, probably sharing interesting stories of the city, it's history, etc.
For a moment I thought 'How nice to be sitting out there relaxing on that boat in a new city.' Made me long for a vacation, frankly. But then another thought entered my mind. It occurred to me that what I was witnessing is precisely the opposite of what we, as sales engineers, should do when we have an audience for a sales demonstration. The gentleman on the boat was narrating a tour of the city from the water - and rightfully so. That's his job. But as sales engineers, this is something we should avoid at all costs. The one thing we do NOT want to do is make it feel as though we are giving a "grand tour" of our product or solution. That's not a sales demonstration. It's typically a waste of peoples time and tends to bore people to death. It certainly doesn't win software deals.
A short while later I finished my workout, cleaned up for dinner and ordered an Uber to take me to the dinner destination. As I was waiting for the Uber I was struck by another inspiration. Just as the tour guide is precisely what we do NOT want to be when giving a sales demonstration, the Uber driver represents a VERY good analogy of how we should approach a sales demo. Allow me to explain.
What does the Uber driver know? He or she knows where you are. And they know where you want to go. And it is their job to get you from point A to point B as quickly and easily as possible.
What a great analogy for how we should execute a sales demonstration or presentation. First, we need to figure out where they are. We do this through effective discovery. (And yes, I strongly believe that sales engineers should be involved in discovery. This is habit #2 in my book The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers.) Once we know where they are, we need to determine, to the best of our ability, where it is that they want to go. I.e. what are their objectives, requirements, constraints, etc. And then it is our job show them how our solution will help them get from point A to point B as quickly and easily as possible. No more. No less.
So the next time you're invited in to do a technical presentation or sales demo in support of a sales opportunity, think and act like an Uber driver, not a tour guide. Use effective discovery to determine where they are and where they want to go, and then design and present a demonstration that shows the path of least resistance to getting from Point A to Point B using your tool.