Achieving Success with Web-based Software Demonstrations

Achieving Success with Web-based Software Demonstrations

The name of the game in remote demonstrations is interactivity! Your ability to attract and compel your audience’s attention is your recipe for success.

How often have you been on the receiving end of a web-based (e.g. WebEx) demonstration and found your attention wandering? Worse, do you find yourself flipping over to read email, or muting your telephone speaker to talk with colleagues, or simply dropping out of the demonstration?

Now imagine yourself giving a web-based demonstration. Is your audience paying attention? Are you losing people? Are you achieving the objective of your demonstration?

Web-based demonstrations are a doubly difficult challenge in the sales, marketing, and deployment of software. It is hard enough to create a compelling demonstration that addresses your customers’ key interests without the added complexity of executing the demo over web and telephone connections.

The good news is that remote demonstration tools now offer the means to connect with your audience and demonstrate your offerings without stepping onto an airplane. This can greatly reduce costs and reduce the time spent traveling.

The ability to schedule a web-based demo in minutes means that you can react rapidly to timesensitive opportunities. Web-based demonstrations are also a terrific vehicle for offering “delta” updates–presenting the key capabilities of a new release, for example, to a customer who has already been exposed to your product

The bad news: pundits have offered that web-based demonstrations are for “when you absolutely,positively want to lose the sale…!” There are certainly larger risks in web-based demonstrations than in face-to-face demos since there is little or no direct interaction with your audience.You lose the visual feedback and customers are less likely to ask questions.

If a project depends on the success of a web-based demo, then you must find a way to increase the likelihood of connecting effectively.

For an important demonstration, your best bet is to split your forces. For example, your technical resource can remain at headquarters and perform the demonstration remotely, but have another representative present with the customer to assess the audience’s reaction and monitor the pace. A key advantage is that the customer will be compelled to pay attention, since your representative isthere making sure it happens!

The next-best situation is when you already have a good working relationship with your audience.The
respect and credibility that you have already earned buys their increased attention.

However, it is unrealistic to expect that you always either already know your customer well or can have a representative present for the demo. Generating interactivity is critical to improving your odds in
any remote demo situation. Here are suggestions to increase your success rate:

  • Toggle between a “roadmap” PowerPoint presentation and your demo to provide guidance, keep
    the audience on track, and break up the demonstration into consumable segments.
  • Use the “pen” or similar tools in PowerPoint or the collaboration software to underline, highlight
    and emphasize keep points. Seeing a new graphic dynamically appearing wakes people up and draws their attention.
  • For large audiences, use the “polling” tools in collaboration software to enable the audience to vote and express opinions. People are inherently curious to see how the results compare with their own ideas and will pay attention as a result
  • Here’s a terrific tip: give control of your desktop to an audience volunteer and have the volunteer “drive” for a while. The volunteer becomes engaged, and the balance of the audience will be on the edge of their seats watching what will happen – will the volunteer make a mistake? This is an extremely powerful technique and works wonderfully when a customer champion is the volunteer.It also has the advantage of tacitly proving that your software is easy to use – “if the volunteer could do it, so could I…”
  • Ask questions as you go along and make sure to respond to the answers from the audience, and vice versa. For larger audiences you can use the “chat” capabilities in most collaboration tools
  • Finally, summarize often. Summarizing helps ensure that the audience is with you and provides them an opportunity to ask questions
  • The name of the game in web-based demonstrations is interactivity. The better you engage, the higher
    your probability of success of achieving your objectives.

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