This week, retail expert Heidi Csencsits continues her sage advice to solution vendors about conducting successful solution demonstrations—including tips on virtual demos. If you missed the first three points, you can read them by clicking here for Parker Avery’s blog post from last week.

4. Don’t Jump the Line

For onsite demos, when it’s time for a meal or snack break, let the client eat first. In our consulting roles, eating out and getting reimbursed for a meal is the norm. But for the participants, getting a free lunch means they’re not spending money or eating leftovers they brought from home. It may be a real treat for some, especially on the rare occasion it is catered.

If food is brought directly into the room, you’re essentially the blockade to participants’ satiety. Try to be nimble enough to wrap up the current section as quickly as possible to let your potential clients eat.

Be mindful that many participants have been selected to join in the selection process as top candidates in their department—and likely in line for promotion. As such, they realize their focus must be on the demo, not on the gratis refreshments. If coffee, snacks, or lunch is provided, remember this and don’t graze if it is not an official break where the client can partake. If the client can wait 10 more minutes for their break, you can wait 15 more minutes for a cookie.

5. Remember, You are Not the Only Vendor

Many vendors ask for discovery workshops or calls prior to preparing for the demo. Similar sessions have likely already taken place with a selection partner to prepare the demo scripts that represent the business requirements.

With typically 3-4 vendors participating in demonstrations, requesting stakeholders block out time for several more hours of repetitive workshops is a big ask. With a firm decision deadline that approaches quickly, there is not enough time to accommodate these one-off requests.

6. Be Willing to Sit at the Kiddie Table

Don’t assume there are enough chairs at the big table for your team and the participants. The only person who should initially be seated at the table is the person who is handling the mouse. Everyone else should wait (in the periphery, if possible) until the client has confirmed all attendees are there, then, if seats are left, you should quickly sit down without making a big production. Know in advance who gets a seat at the big table to make this more efficient.

7. Virtual Demos

Virtually, we are still moving forward, but many of the above points still apply. With remote demonstrations, there are some nuances to call out:

  • Mute. Everything. This cannot be emphasized enough. No one needs to hear you multi-tasking with your keyboard clicking or eating your lunch. Of course, be conscious (and quick) to turn your mic back on if you are going to address a point.
  • Turn your camera on for the introductions or if you are speaking. Otherwise, it’s OK to turn it off. This shows you care enough about the event to be camera ready. Also, look directly into the camera to make better eye-contact. If you don’t have a camera, just let the attendees know.
  • Turn off notifications (like mail or instant messages–especially if you are sharing your entire desktop). Remember, especially after several days and hours of demonstrations, your potential clients’ work from their “day jobs” has piled up and patience is likely waning–this is about making the best use of short attention spans.

As stated earlier, much of this may sound like common sense, but we have too often witnessed these actions demonstrated in practice. Be thoughtful, respectful, and courteous to the attendees who are giving up multiple days out of their schedules to find the best solution to meet their business needs. Read all communications thoroughly and follow instructions. Communicate with the designated resources for questions or follow-up. Keep your promises–if you need to circle back on something, do it quickly.

So many companies have managed to get by with aged systems with the intent to update them a few years in the future. However, many of our retail and consumer goods customers are quickly facing the need to re-prioritize automation and simplification in their internal landscapes. This means faster RFP/demo processes and decision making. Help them to make the best decision for their companies by coming to the demonstration with your best foot forward and leaving a positive lasting impression.


Read the First 3 Tips
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Published On: November 10, 2020Categories: Consumer Goods, Heidi Csencsits, Retail, System Assessment, System Selection