Assessing Demonstration Skill Levels – How Do You Rate? - Great Demo

Assessing Demonstration Skill Levels – How Do You Rate?

assessing demonstration skill levels - how do you rate?

Assessing Demonstration Skill Levels – How Do You Rate?
(A Never Stop Learning! Article)

What’s in this article for you?

  • Assess yourself and your team
  • Ten levels of demonstration skills
  • Exploration of each level’s characteristics
  • Measurements for achieving each level
  • Pros and cons of each level’s demos, plus grades
  • The significant gains enjoyed by advancing through the skill levels


A head of presales commented, “They don’t know what they don’t know…! 50% of our sales opportunities end in ‘No Decision’ and 30% of our demos are just pure waste. We must move from our traditional approaches to a validated, proven methodology that delivers improved results!”

Here’s a simple method to assess where you and your team stand, based on ten levels of increasing demo skills proficiency:

Level 1: Follows the standard demo script

Level 2: Customizes based on prospect’s market/industry

Level 3: Customizes based on discovery information uncovered

Level 4: Communicates tangible business value

Level 5: Applies both Vision Generation and Technical Proof Demos

Level 6: Manages and explores prospect questions

Level 7: Uses Biased Questions to outflank competition and reengineer vision

Level 8: Applies storytelling techniques to reinforce key ideas

Level 9: Applies these skills to the broad range of demo scenarios required, including demos for prospects occupying different portions of the Technology Adoption Curve, presenting new products, Executive Briefing Centers, transactional sales cycles, expansion opportunities, lunch and learn sessions, tradeshows, demos for analysts and third parties, channel partners, internal demos, and other scenarios

Level 10: Captures and reuses demo success scenarios, and integrates, aligns, and leverages the skills above into a cohesive demonstration methodology

Where are you and your team on this spectrum?

Most people and teams, when they are honest with themselves, are operating at Levels 1-3 (and Level 3 is often debatable…). That leaves a lot of room for improvement! The average vendor suffers from a ~45% No Decision rate and finds that ~30% of their demos are wasted. If those numbers are similar to your experiences, then perhaps a change is in order! And even if your metrics are better, we should all constantly seek to advance our skills.

What are some pathways to improvement? Books are a terrific starting point, providing self-paced learning. However, you cannot have a conversation with a book (or a video), so answers to your questions or clarification of ideas have to come from somewhere else. Book clubs can be a mechanism to address this, but you are still at risk of the blind leading the blind!

Seminars and webinars provide the means to introduce new ideas and catalyze the process of change. These sessions are wonderful ways to kick off new programs and embrace large populations at once.

Workshops provide the strongest tactic to achieve substantive change. Workshops include multiple rounds of roleplay, where participants prepare and deliver new demos applying the methodology. Each round builds upon the previous and includes personal feedback, tuning, and guidance.

Choose the mechanism that works best for you! Now, let’s explore each level more closely…


Level 1 – Follows the “Standard” Demo Script

Most presales and sales new hires go through basic training on their company’s products and systems, along with introductions to their go-to-market and sales process steps. For presales and some salespeople, this includes learning the basic “standard” demo for each product they will represent.

Many organizations then test whether the new team member has mastered these standard demos through certification roleplays. That’s Level 1, which is often focused on ensuring that the employee understands the various capabilities in their software and relevant positioning.

These standard demos are generally structured in a linear flow that includes presenting navigation, setup and customization options, various workflows, and reporting (if time allows!). They are not optimized for any specific prospect or demo scenario, and they are definitely not focused on the interests of specific job titles or adjusted for any markets or verticals. Disturbingly, any relevant discovery information is ignored, as well!

These demos are commonly known as (Stunningly Awful) Harbor Tours.

They are woefully ineffective. They fail to inspire vision; they fail to achieve technical proof; they suffer (deeply!) from Buying It Back; they are the recipients of countless painful jokes from prospects, customers, and more experienced vendor teams.

Amusingly, they are celebrated by the competitors of the vendors who present these Harbor Tours!

Generally, (and hopefully!) there is an expectation that vendor practitioners will only use these standard demos as a starting point. Unfortunately, many team members continue to follow these same unproductive demo pathways for years…! (Visualize a mass of lemmings marching unconcernedly towards a cliff.)

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 1:
  1. “Certification” by a manager, certification team, mentor, or colleague.
  • May be suitable for Innovator and some Early Adopter prospects.
  • Provides practitioners with an understanding of their software’s capabilities.
  • Joins the population of stunningly awful Harbor Tours!
  • Unsuitable for Vision Generation.
  • Unsuitable for achieving Technical Proof.
  • Demos are generally a monologue. – Suffers from severe Buying It Back.

Grade (for demos to most prospects): F


Level 2 – Customizes Based on Prospect’s Market/Industry

The first small step towards customizing demos to meet prospects’ specific situations is often reflected in the use of market- or industry-specific data sets and vocabulary. This can be as simple as using an adaptive or pre-built demo environment for each industry: manufacturing, finance, pharma, etc. In the absence of adaptive or pre-built environments, practitioners can modify data themselves and apply appropriate terminology in their verbal delivery during demos.

Another dimension at this level of customization is adapting the demo to meet the specifics of a geographic region, which might range from including regional addresses or phone syntax, job titles, and local terminology, to verbal delivery in the prospect’s local language (e.g., like Californian, dude…!).

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 2:
  1. Makes appropriate changes to demo data and verbal delivery.
  • Again, may be suitable for Innovator and some Early Adopter prospects.
  • Shows some sensitivity to regionality and/or markets.
  • A nominally improved Harbor Tour (preferred seating section)!
  • Still unsuitable for Vision Generation.
  • Still unsuitable for achieving Technical Proof.
  • Demos are still a monologue. – Still suffers from severe Buying It Back.

Grade (for demos to most prospects): F+


Level 3 – Customizes Based on Discovery Information Uncovered

Wait, what? You want discovery information before presenting the demo?

Yes, please!

This requires three steps to complete:

  1. Discovery must be done.
  2. Discovery information must be communicated (if it isn’t the same person doing discovery and the demo).
  3. Discovery information must be incorporated into the demo.

Sound obvious? Sadly, I’ve seen countless demos where:

  • Discovery was never done or was insufficient to impact what was shown in the demo.
  • Discovery was done (by someone else) but was never communicated to the demo presenter.
  • Discovery was done but was ignored in the resulting demo.

Very simply, sufficient discovery provides guidance on which capabilities to include in the demo and which capabilities to leave out. If your team’s demos follow the same path regardless of what was learned in discovery, then they haven’t achieved Level 3.

An observation: It is incredibly insulting to prospects who have invested in a substantive discovery conversation with a vendor to have that vendor ignore the discovery information provided!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 3:
  1. Sufficient discovery is complete, as measured by a partially complete Great Demo! Situation Slide (Completed Problems/Reasons and Specific Capabilities sections).
  2. Discovery information is communicated throughout the selling team.
  3. Demonstrator presents or doesn’t present capabilities in alignment with the discovery information collected.
  • Represents a tipping point between unsuccessful and successful demos.
  • May be sufficient to achieve Technical Proof.
  • Still unsuitable for Vision Generation.
  • Still largely a monologue.
  • No communication of business value.

Grade: C


Level 4 – Communicates Business Value

The number one complaint from presales and sales managers about their teams’ demos is that “they don’t communicate business value…” And in order to communicate business value, teams need to know what the value is for their prospects!

This is a watershed skill level. Those who fail to communicate business value will struggle with their demos; those who convey tangible value are positioned for success.

Most vendor demos don’t communicate value at all, leaving prospects without the ability to sell internally. Some vendors describe generic value, and a subset of these goes further to make it tangible. However, the real objective is to communicate the tangible value gains for each specific prospect. Let’s break these important ideas down…

Generic Business Value:

Case 1: In the simplest case, presales and sales teams should be able to articulate the intangible benefits of their solution. This might be phrased as “Our software enables you to reduce the time needed to…” Frankly, this is too generic and, accordingly, it is nearly meaningless.

Case 2: Slightly better is to communicate the kinds of tangible gains seen across the industry, “Our customers report savings of 2-4 weeks in process time…” But will this resonate with the current prospect? Hard to say…

Case 3: An additional improvement is to be more specific, “Other customers who are very similar to you report process reductions of 2-3 weeks…” This will feel more relevant for the current prospect but note that the numbers are someone else’s.

Specific Business Value:

In the absence of doing discovery, vendors are limited to generic value statements. Correspondingly, discovery needs to be executed with the clear objective of uncovering meaningful, prospect-specific value elements.

During discovery, any time your prospect “admits pain”, your job is to quantify it. Each of these is a Delta: the difference between your prospect’s current state and their desired future state. While the concept of capturing and communicating Deltas is richly developed in both Doing Discovery and Great Demo!, here is a brief introduction:

When your prospect says, “It takes too long…” your response should be in the form of two questions:

  1. How long does it take today?
  2. How long should it take?

The difference is the Delta: A simple and direct expression of value. A few additional questions will enable you to do the math (“maths”, for you in the UK, etc.) to calculate meaningful business value statements.


Prospect states, “It takes too long…”

You ask, “How long does it take today?”

Your prospect responds, “The full process currently takes 10 business days…”

You enquire, “And what would you like it to be – what does it need to be?”

Prospect answers, “We need to cut this down to 2 business days.”

You follow up with, “And how often do you run this process?”

“Every two weeks – 25 times per year…” is the response.

You then ask, “And how many people are consumed by this process today?”

Prospect replies, “10 staff members – it’s their only function.”

So, this prospect could redeploy 80% of their team to other, more valuable tasks. That’s 8 FTE (Full-Time Equivalents). That’s the Delta. And that represents the driving force for making the change.

The 8 FTEs are the tangible and specific value of making the change for this prospect. At Level 4, this information is communicated and reinforced throughout the demo.

Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes:

Finally, Level 4 practitioners uncover prospects’ overarching business goals and objectives, in discovery, and align their discussion of business value with these goals and objectives. These are called Critical Business Issues.

In the example above, when we identified the specific business value for a particular process, the Level 4 practitioner would also ask, “Why do you need to improve your process – what is your objective for this project?” The prospect’s response might be, “We’ve been tasked to increase our overall productivity by 10% and this process was identified as a key problem area…” The Critical Business Issue is “Increasing productivity by 10%” and we include this in our discussion of business value during the demo.

In Great Demo! methodology, we document the prospect’s Critical Business Issue(s) as well as the Delta (the specific business value) on the Situation Slide, we revisit these when we present Illustrations, and we include them in our Summaries. Consistent, precise communication of business value is a critical success factor for demos and can be a major point of differentiation between vendors!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 4:
  1. Presents tangible, prospect-specific business value metrics.
  2. Ties the business value to the Critical Business Issue(s).
  • Often sufficient to achieve Technical Proof.
  • Enables prospects to build internal business cases.
  • Still unsuitable for Vision Generation.
  • May still be a unidirectional monologue.
  • May be difficult to differentiate from the competition.
  • May leave money on the table.

Grade: B


Level 5 – Applies Both Vision Generation and Technical Proof Demos

How often are you asked to provide an overview demo to a Sales Qualified Lead that goes nowhere? How frequently does it seem that prospects who ask for demos are just planning for the future, and have no intention of buying in the short term?

The ability to differentiate between prospects who are “Just Browsing” vs in an “Active Buying Process” is another major skill watershed. Those who are unable to make this determination are doomed to long sales processes that far too frequently end in No Decision outcomes (or their sales processes never end and are on the forecast forever!).

Prospects who are Just Browsing are doing exactly that: They just want a taste of your capabilities, not a seven-course banquet. These prospects are often in the early stages of exploration or planning for their next fiscal year. They don’t want to engage, yet, in a sales process. How do you satisfy them?

You deliver a Vision Generation Demo.

These use Informal Success Stories combined with a few key software screens – often dashboards or reports – to build a vision of what is possible in your prospects’ minds. A complete Vision Generation Demo can be executed in ten minutes or less, to satisfy these prospects while avoiding the horrors of Lead Churn.

Prospects who are in an Active Buying Process, on the other hand, may want a Vision Generation Demo to kick off their investigation process, followed by substantive discovery and Technical Proof Demos. How do you determine your prospects’ level of interest? You ask!

(Chapters 4-9 in the Third Edition of Great Demo! provide the complete recipe for Technical Proof Demos and Chapter 11 details the formula for Vision Generation Demos.)

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 5:
  1. Differentiates Just Browsing from Active Buying Process prospects.
  2. Presents Vision Generation Demos when appropriate. C) Bonus: Applies the Menu Approach as a lead-in for Vision Generation Demos.
  • “Less is more” Vision Generation Demos satisfy many prospects’ desires.
  • Recycles many leads that would have otherwise churned.
  • Enables champions and other prospect stakeholders to sell internally.
  • May be difficult to differentiate from the competition.
  • May still be a unidirectional monologue.
  • May leave money on the table.

Grade: B+


Level 6 – Manages and Explores Prospect Questions

There are three parts to this level:

  1. Assessing and managing the flow of questions.
  2. Exploring the intent behind prospect questions.
  3. Encouraging an actual conversation to take place!

Let’s start with the third item on the list…

You may have noted that many of the previous levels suffered from a high risk of vendor monologues. This is very typical for practitioners operating at the lower Levels! These reps are eager to pack as much info into their demos as time allows, which reduces (or eliminates!) the possibility of prospect questions or feedback.

A classic indicator of monologue delivery is the following, frequently repeated exchange:

“Any questions so far?”

“Nope, we’re good”

“Peeling Back the Layers” in Great Demo! methodology is all about encouraging a productive, bidirectional conversation to take place. Prospects that actively participate in the demo, through inquiry and commentary, are much more engaged and are much more likely to retain the key ideas presented, particularly if it was their questions that drove the discussion!

OK, now that we are actively encouraging questions, let’s return to how to manage the flow.

Achieving the number 1 above is a dynamic process of determining, “Is this something I need to answer now, or should it be deferred until later?” The use of a questions Parking Lot is an indicator of successful question management. (See Chapter 8 in the Third Edition of Great Demo! for details on this process.)

Far too many demos are diverted in the first few minutes by prospect questions that drag the presenter into the weeds. Innumerable prospect executives have left demo meetings early because of lengthy, detailed explanations by vendor reps thrashing further into the underbrush! And I’d be an extremely rich person, monetarily, if I had a dollar for every time a vendor provided protracted paragraphs of answers to questions that only needed a crisp “Yes” response! (Please take up a collection for me…)

Number 2 above is exploring the why behind prospect questions. Is the question being asked in earnest vs a “I’m just curious?” Is it a “landmine” planted by a competitor? Does it represent the need for a “KO” capability vs a less important “nice to have” feature?

How many times have we heard a prospect ask, “Can your software do X?” and the vendor responds “Absolutely! Let me show you how this works…” or “No, but we have a workaround – here, I’ll show you…” without any reciprocal inquiry?

In both cases, the vendor missed an important opportunity to seek clarification. “How important is this to you?” “What prompted your question?” “What is it you need to accomplish with this kind of capability?” “How often would it be used?”

Prospect responses to these questions can make or break a demo. Skilled question management can keep you out of the weeds, enable you to identify and categorize prospect needs and wants, and address competitive threats, while simultaneously encouraging the conversation.

The Level 5 practitioner investigates prospect questions thoughtfully!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 6:
  1. Achieves a Talk: Listen ratio of 50:50 or better (larger “Listen” numbers are better).
  2. Applies Parking Lot principles.
  3. Asks clarification questions.
  • Enables a true conversation to take place.
  • Improves retention of key ideas.
  • Uncovers and clarifies prospect issues not addressed in discovery.
  • May still be difficult to differentiate from the competition.
  • May still leave money on the table.

Grade: B+


Level 7 – Uses Biased Questions to Outflank Competition and Reengineer Vision

Achieving Level 7 is a major step! Most presales and salespeople are completely unaware of the use of Biased Questions and Vision Reengineering concepts.

In traditional demos, vendors endeavor to show as much functionality as time allows, regardless of whether that functionality is meaningful or relevant for the prospect. In Great Demo! methodology, you learn how to present exactly the capabilities the prospect needs, based on discovery.

But what if you realize, during the demo, that there are features your prospect should need or want, that you hadn’t discussed during discovery?

How do you introduce those capabilities without the risk of flogging your prospect with unwanted features and Buying It Back? You use a Biased Question!

A Biased Question leads your prospect towards a logical conclusion, such as the need for your competitively advantageous capability. In these cases, the capability is introduced verbally, and then shown only when the prospect agrees that it would be useful and wants to see it.

The Level 7 practitioner has a store of Biased Questions ready to deploy (both in discovery and demos) and introduces them when appropriate. (Biased Questions are covered in both Great Demo! and Doing Discovery, in alignment with presenting demos or engaging in a discovery conversation.)

Next, Vision Reengineering is another relatively unknown, but essential advanced set of skills.

Most prospects “don’t know what they don’t know” about your offerings’ capabilities. Their knowledge, prior to a discovery dialog or a demo, is generally limited to what they can learn online. It is rare that a vendor lists all of their capabilities publicly, to keep competitors in the dark (and often because a complete listing is impractical, if not unreadable!).

Vision Reengineering is the process of helping your prospect expand their concept of a solution to embrace a broader set of your offering’s capabilities.

An example?

Imagine the difference between a prospect’s current deliverable of a static report vs a dynamic dashboard with live “slicing and dicing” and drill-down capabilities. The prospect may not realize that such a dynamic dashboard is even possible. In Vision Reengineering, the vendor introduces the capability using a Biased Question that describes how other, very similar customers utilized the dynamic dashboard to improve and increase the value of the solution.

In the midst of a demo, the functionality is then shown if the prospect agrees that it is desired. In a discovery conversation, if the prospect decides they want the capability, then it becomes a Specific Capability to be shown in the subsequent demo.

Biased Questions are frequently used by Level 7 reps to drive Vision Reengineering conversations.

Why are Biased Questions and Vision Reengineering so important? Two major reasons:

  1. Avoids leaving money on the table.
  2. Enables outflanking competition.

When you successfully expand your prospects’ vision of a solution through Vision Reengineering, you are often building a larger, more complete solution. These frequently include additional for-sale products or services that increase the value of the solution and the size of the sales opportunity.

Similarly, Vision Reengineering is a competitive weapon. When a prospect embraces a broader or deeper solution that includes capabilities your competition lacks (or suffers from inadequacies), you are establishing competitive differentiation.

Applying Biased Questions and skillfully executing Vision Reengineering can tip the competitive scales in your favor and increase the size of the order. Delightful!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 7:
  1. Uses Biased Questions.
  2. Expands and establishes Reengineered Vision for prospects.
  • Enables outflanking competition.
  • Can increase the size of the purchase.
  • Often improves the solution consumed by the customer.
  • Reduces potential churn.
  • Demos may still be comparatively dry and uninspiring.

Grade: A-


Level 8 – Applies Storytelling Techniques to Reinforce Key Ideas

Next to “communicating business value”, storytelling is the most frequent demo skills improvement sought by sales and presales managers. But “wrapping a story around your demo…” is not a simple or effective solution. Successful Storytelling is about communication stickiness and the ability of your prospects to remember your key messages.

Similarly, “A Day in the Life” demo is not an effective story. It’s just a framework and is not compelling on its own.

Level 8 practitioners use stories when presenting their most important points, critical concepts, and key competitive capabilities. Stories help make these ideas memorable, enabling prospect players to retell those same stories with high fidelity within their own organization.

Stories about how other, similar customers successfully used your capabilities to address their challenges are engaging and stimulate interest: They generate hope and curiosity, “If they could do it, then we probably can as well – and I wonder how they did it?” This is where you harvest and apply Informal Success Stories in your demos.

Stories don’t need to be Norse sagas! Sometimes, simple is better.

Never tell a good story once! When you find stories that resonate strongly, practice retelling these to tune and improve your delivery and their impact. (See Chapter 14 in the Third Edition of Great Demo! for a complete treatment of storytelling in demos.)

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 8:
  1. Uses structured stories to support key capabilities or concepts.
  2. Bonus: Prospects retell your stories internally!
  • Makes your demos particularly remarkable and memorable.
  • Enables champions to recommunicate key ideas effectively.
  • Requires extensive personal experience or a team stories repository.

Grade: A


Level 9 – Applies These Skills to the Broad Range of Demo Scenarios

One of the key ideas in Great Demo! methodology is that there is no such thing as “one demo fits all prospects.”

A basic Great Demo! principle is to align your demo with each of your prospect’s specific job titles. A CRO has different requirements than a VP of sales, whose needs are different from those of front-line managers, who also have distinct requirements vs their salespeople staff. Add presales players to the mix and you have another set of specific needs and wants. Include marketing, professional services, and customer success, and your complexity increases.

One demo does not fit all prospect job titles.

Similarly, there are differences across a broad number of other prospect dimensions that need to be taken into account in your demos:

  • Technology Adoption Curve: Each category has specific needs, desires, and differing willingness to accept risk. A technology demo (or painful Harbor Tour) may actually be preferred by some Innovators. Conversely, the Early Majority will want extensive discovery followed by fairly detailed demos of the functionality they plan to use. The Late Majority will require “comprehensive” demos as well as deeper additional forms of proof (e.g., POCs and POVs).
  • “Burn Victims”: These are prospects that suffered a failed implementation or the inability to achieve a predicted ROI. Discovery and demos for this group will require gaining a clear understanding of what happened previously along with demonstrated proof that these Burn Victims won’t endure the same result again.
  • Executive Briefing Centers (EBCs): These demos need to educate prospect leadership and staff about possibilities and solutions for the future. They leverage Vision Generation Demos, and the Menu Approach, and often include substantial Vision Reengineering.
  • New Products and New Categories: Success with these demos requires a clear understanding of the Technology Adoption Curve as it applies to discovery and demos.
  • Transactional and High-Velocity Sales Cycles: How do you execute sufficient discovery and deliver compelling demos in a highly transactional mode?
  • Expansion Opportunities: How do you leverage your position as the incumbent vendor to expand your solution footprint?
  • Lunch and Learn Sessions: What is the best way to execute Lunch and Learn demos and similar events? Skilled practitioners find success applying the Menu Approach and Vision Generation Demos for these opportunities.
  • Tradeshows: The perfect environment to apply the Menu Approach and Vison Generation Demos!

And that’s just a portion of the iceberg. You can (and should!) apply Great Demo! principles and skills for demos to internal players, third parties, and analysts. Vendors that sell through channel partners or resellers represent another dimension of application (several dimensions, actually!).

If you mentally revisit Level 1 where new hires are learning the “standard” demo, you’ll realize that this is where the trouble begins! Modifying your onboarding training to embrace Great Demo! and Doing Discovery practices will both accelerate time-to-competency and eliminate the need to retrain staff.

Putting it all together takes training, experience, practice, and coaching. Read A Prospect’s Tale for a humorous, yet pragmatic story that illustrates what not to do and, more importantly, what success looks like!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 9:
  1. Applies Great Demo! and Doing Discovery methodologies across the full range of demo situations you encounter.
  • Embraces a broad set of demo scenarios confidently.
  • Reduces onboarding time.
  • Requires extensive personal experience, training, and coaching.

Grade: A+


Level 10 – Captures and Enables Reuse of Demo Success Scenarios

While individuals can ascend to this level (and should!), this is really an organizational objective. Where one person can collect and leverage experiences, stories, and other demonstration capital and assets, and contemplate what a team can amass with the appropriate guidance and support systems.

As presales and salespeople mature, they recognize the importance of altruism and mutual enablement. Sharing what has worked (and not worked) with their peers generates a virtuous feedback loop, enabling individuals to tap into the broader experiences of the team.

These positive feedback loops often start informally with post-demo vendor team discussions of “What went well?”, “What didn’t go so well?”, and “What could we have done better or differently?” Formalizing this process to make post-demo reviews a structured, regular habit is a key indicator of Level 10 practice.

Informal Success Stories are part of the lifeblood of an organization and are used by seasoned presales and salespeople as integral components of their processes. They provide the foundation materials for the Menu Approach, Vision Generation Demonstrations, Biased Questions, and Vision Reengineering.

Application often starts with a phrase such as, “Let me share how another customer, very similar to you, solved this…” The balance of the story (often a “Hero’s Journey”) describes how your customer’s challenges were overcome by using your offering.

Now, imagine a room of 50 presales and salespeople at a January kickoff meeting. Each person has been asked to document a customer success story that they personally experienced: just one story each. 15 minutes later they send those stories to an enablement person who organizes them into a library. Suddenly, everyone has 49 new success stories to draw from and use in their sales and presales efforts.

That’s a nearly 50-fold amplification effect in a quarter of an hour!

Additionally, these success stories are terrific examples of what good, well-qualified prospects look like, representing high product “fit” with respect to prospect needs and wants, enabling happier customers, and reducing churn.

Next, collect and share particularly compelling Illustrations, successful Menus, Biased Questions, and examples of Vision Reengineering. These valuable demo assets can – and should – be leveraged to accelerate onboarding, upskilling, and advancing your team’s overall level of execution.

Organizations that achieve Level 10 enjoy remarkable amplification and acceleration of sales and presales processes while rather dramatically reducing the number of wasted demos and No Decision outcomes. They become organizations that high-performing customer-facing people want to join!

Individual Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 10:
  1. Completes regular, structured post-demo reviews.
  2. Submits Informal Success Stories, Illustrations, Menus, and other demo assets into a team or corporate library.
  3. Bonus for serving as a mentor to others.
Organizational Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 10:
  1. Captures the key output of regular, structured post-demo reviews.
  2. Collects, curates, and distributes Informal Success Stories, Illustrations, Menus, and other demo assets.
  3. Implements and applies consistent feedback loops to drive a constant practice of improvement.
  • Amplifies and scales across your entire customer-facing team.
  • Generates, attracts, develops, and retains high-performing staff, mentors, and front-line managers.
  • Requires personnel tasked to establish, develop, and maintain supporting processes and systems.

Organizational Grade: A+


Level 10 – Achieves Full Methodology Implementation

Methodology is an integrated, coherent suite of skills that interconnect, leverage, and support one another, enabling processes, playbooks, coordinated motions, consistency, tracking, measurement, and structured coaching. Methodology addresses four key questions:

  1. Why – why do things a certain way.
  2. What – what should be done.
  3. How – how to execute specific skills – explicit instructions.
  4. When – when to apply the skills and in what order.

Methodology enables skills to be taught and practiced, both individually and as integrated components. In Great Demo! methodology, for example, Informal Success Stories feed Vision Generation Demos and associated Menus, supporting a variety of demo scenarios (including “just show me a demo” requests from prospects, Executive Briefing Center demos, demos for 3rd parties, and many more).

The application of the Inverted Pyramid structure in Great Demo! delivery is another example of methodology vs individual skills, guiding us to present the most important content early in our demos, followed by inviting our prospects to Peel Back the Layers as deeply as they desire. The Inverted Pyramid arrangement tells us why, what, how, and when to present information in a demo.

Fascinatingly, the VP of Enablement of one of our Great Demo! customers noted that “Methodology enables enablement…!” An insightful and provocative perspective!

Measurement(s) for Achieving Level 10 – Methodology Implementation:
  1. Operates as a team or organization as opposed to individuals.
  2. Establishes objectives and tracks metrics to improve team performance and efficiency.
  3. Actively evolves and tunes the methodology in accord with company objectives, market changes, and culture.

Organizations that achieve Level 10 Methodology Implementation enjoy remarkable scaling and amplification metrics and establish substantial competitive advantages vs their peers.


Ten Levels of Demonstration Skills

These Ten Levels, along with their metrics for attainment, provide you with a structured approach to assess and advance. So, now how do you rate yourself or your team? Has your assessment changed?

Level 1: Follows the standard demo script
Level 2: Customizes based on prospect’s market/industry
Level 3: Customizes based on discovery information uncovered
Level 4: Communicates tangible business value
Level 5: Applies both Vision Generation and Technical Proof Demos
Level 6: Manages and explores prospect questions
Level 7: Uses Biased Questions to outflank competition and reengineer vision
Level 8: Applies storytelling techniques to reinforce key ideas
Level 9: Applies these skills to the broad range of demo scenarios required, including demos for prospects occupying different portions of the Technology Adoption Curve, presenting new products, Executive Briefing Centers, transactional sales cycles, expansion opportunities, lunch and learn sessions, tradeshows, demos for analysts and third parties, channel partners, internal demos, and other scenarios
Level 10: Captures and reuses demo success scenarios, and integrates, aligns, and leverages the skills above into a cohesive demonstration methodology

In the absence of this kind of analysis, most veteran presales and salespeople, when asked, would position themselves as “advanced” or “expert” in preparing and delivering demos. In fact, when I asked one head of presales about her team, she said, “Well, I’d say that only 20% of the veterans are really good – the others think they’re good, but they have a long way to go…!”


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