Getting Started with Solution Demos

By: Steve Robins

The Solution Demo Series, Part I

This is the first part of the Solution Demo Series. Check back for additional posts (see end of post for complete list).  Also, be sure to check out the earlier post, “It’s Never Just a Demo” about demos at WebInno22 in Boston.

If you’re marketing solutions, chances are that you’ll also need to develop, manage, and/or deliver solution demos.  This is the first installment of a series on how to develop and deliver great solution demos, based on my own experience and that of several demo experts like Peter Cohan (see forthcoming resource list for further details).
Let me know if you have additional suggestions for great solution demos – reply below.  

As a marketer and former research analyst, I’ve seen hundreds of software demos.  I’ve given demos, and I’ve worked closely with, and have managed teams, that built and delivered demos.  Time and again, I’ve found that business audiences most appreciate solution-oriented demos that demonstrate how their company can solve real business problems.  Such demos are superior to demos chock full of cool — but often irrelevant — features and capabilities.

And business audiences also appreciate when the presenter “frames” the demo, discussing the problems that the solution solves, the solution’s overall value proposition, the solution’s overall functionality, and how it can  help their organization.  Otherwise, the audience sees only a jumble of features, without understanding their business value.

You may still be thinking that a demo is a demo is a demo.  But it’s not.  There are different types of demos, each with a different purpose:

  • Vision demos show how the company’s products work together, and often highlight unique or innovative new product features available today or in the future.  The goal is to paint a broad vision about the company’s or division’s capabilities.  Vision demos are often built around a business process or business problem – but the end game is showing the vision, not the specific business process or business problem. These demos are commonly delivered at trade show and user group keynotes and can be useful introductions to a company’s capabilities.
  • Product demos show how a software product works, with a focus on features, functions and business benefits.  Ideally these demos also show the business value.  But their focus on a given product naturally limits the scope of these demos. Once again, product demos may be built around a scenario tied to solving a business problem or improving a business process, but oftentimes, that’s not the end game.  Product demos are most useful for technical users who need to understand and compare features and functions.  I suspect that experts like Peter Cohan would argue against product demos and in favor of solution demos.
  • Solution demos show how a complete solution solves a business problem, often in the context of a business process.  Whereas the business problem and business process are a means to an end in the other types of demos, here they are the central element of the demo.  Because solutions encompass more than just a single product, solution demos may include multiple products from you and your partners – while continuing to focus on only the most important elements required to solve the business problem.

Know demos. Demos are important solution marketing tools.  Sooner or later, you may need to build and/or present a demo – or work closely with others that do.  You may work on demos for prospects and customers, external bloggers, analysts and press, employees, and many others.  In part II, I’ll show you how to plan your demo.

Check back in coming days for additional posts:

The Solution Demo Series

Part I: Getting Started with Solution Demos.
Part II: Strategizing the Solution Demo. Understand your audience and determine goals before you develop the solution demo.
Part III: Elements of a Great Solution Demo. Build and deliver a great demo that your audience will value.
Part IV: Solution Demo Resources. Links to selected demo resources – articles and demo companies.
Part V: Solution Demo Checklist. Answer these strategic questions and you’ll be ready to develop a great solution demo.

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1 Comment

Filed under Demos, Solution Marketing, Solutions

One response to “Getting Started with Solution Demos

  1. Pingback: Strategizing The Solution Demo « THE Solution Marketing Blog

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