Trade-Show Demonstrations – Using the "Menu Approach"

Trade-Show Demonstrations – Using the “Menu Approach”

I both love and hate doing demonstrations at trade shows. They are wonderful because of the opportunity to interact with so many customers. They are terrible when you consider how many of those customer interactions, and demos, are unqualified and unproductive.

There are two frustrating scenarios that often occur at trade shows. The first is when a customer walks up to a demo station and says, “Show me your product”. The second is when a colleague in your booth brings a prospect by and says, “Show him/her our product.”

The result in either case is the “harbor tour” demo – a painful excursion marked by furtive eye movements from the prospect (who is now looking at how to disengage) and a mutual waste of time.

The core problem is that you are being asked to present a demo with no Discovery information. How can you improve the probability of success for of these situations?

Hold back. Don’t move the mouse, but hold it ready in your hand, as if you’ll start any moment. Instead of beginning to present a demo, start asking questions…

Willing To Share

Your first objective is to uncover the customer’s job title (and industry, if there is a range) – this will provide you with insight into typical challenges and likely interests. You can then follow by asking, “What is your objective at this conference – what are you hoping to accomplish?” This helps your customer recall why he or she is present and what they need to achieve while at the conference – shopping for specific solutions vs. browsing for new technologies vs. collecting booth swag.

A reasonable answer provides you with a starting point for further discussion. Continuing, you may be able to uncover sufficient Discovery information to deliver a credible and focused Great Demo – a demo that matches the capabilities you show to the prospect’s real needs. That would be a terrific outcome for a trade-show demo.

But what if the customer either isn’t willing to offer information – or simply says, “Just show me a demo.”

The Menu Approach

Present the customer with a list of high-probability topics – problem areas – that your software addresses. Start verbally describing each topic briefly and look for a response from your customer.

For typical customers, they will often let you describe the first one or two items on the list and then respond, “Tell me more about that” or “Tell me about the fifth one on your list.”

This is terrific – what have you just uncovered? The customer has just let you know which topic or problem on the list is likely the most important one for him/her.

Inwardly, you smile to yourself, because it is likely you’ve uncovered an area of “pain” for this customer. Outwardly, your next step is to provide a brief verbal overview and then test – ask for confirmation that the customer is interested in this area.

One extremely effective method of describing the topic is to comment on “how other customers had this problem, used our capabilities to address it,” and enjoyed certain tangible rewards.

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