By T.C. Doyle
Does it still make sense to request a demo for professional software at a time when a quarter of new car buyers gladly will skip a test drive?
Yes, say enterprise software experts including Bryce Maughan, director of sales enablement and business development at Impartner. “The benefits of taking a demo are many regardless of whether that demo leads to a sale or not,” Maughan says. “Any opportunity to advance a learning journey is generally worth it.”
Maughan identifies five reasons why a working professional will benefit from taking a product and/or services demo from a reputable, knowledgeable source. Doing so, he says, helps a businessperson:
- Stay Abreast of Trends
- Gain Insights into Other Professionals’ Best Practices
- Test Strategic Hypotheses
- Provide Feedback to Frontline Influencers
- Challenge Perceptions and Overcome Biases
Here’s a closer look at each benefit in more detail.
Stay Abreast of Trends
Some books you cannot put down. Others you just cannot get into. The same is true of news stories, research topics and business trends. Be honest: could you explain blockchain to a fellow professional if you had to?
If you know or even suspect there are lapses or gaps in your knowledge on key trends, then taking a demo with a trained professional will help you understand key concepts in a private, controlled environment. In the right demo setting, you can ask anything you like without the risk of embarrassment or career setback. And you can dive deep into areas that are of particular to you and your organization. This includes subjects where your familiarity may be lacking.
Considering that studies show that working professionals have stopped learning because they have no time for ongoing education, you might find that a sales demo is a terrific way to outsmart your competition. A good demo will help you quickly catch up on innovations, trends and market dynamics, just to name a few things.
Gain Insights into Other Professionals’ Best Practices
When demonstrating their ideas and innovations, organizations try to put their best foot forward. They will deliver their demo on their best equipment, for example, and with their best personnel. They do so they can present themselves in the best light possible. As part of their planning, they will structure their presentations to include best practices gleaned from other customer engagements and relative industry research. This offers your organization genuine insights that you’d ordinarily pay for.
When taking a demo, be sure to ask loads of questions on different approaches, strategies and individual best practices. Where possible, ask for refences. Peer practitioners can provide an abundance of insights that would otherwise take months if not years to gather on your own.
The possibilities are endless. In the right setting, you can learn everything from optimum configurations, talent allocation, costs and return on investment expectations.
If you’re mulling whether you need an outside consultant, do yourself a favor and take some product demos first. So long as your honest about your priorities and intensions, you’ll be amazed what people will be willing to share.
Test Your Hypotheses
Every good vendor with their salt has done competitive research on what works in their field or market, and what does not. This research typically goes well beyond what competitors’ offer. Think tech stacks, support networks and market evolutions.
If your company, thus, has an idea about something but nowhere else to put it to a test, take a vendor product demo. In most instances, vendors will welcome the opportunity to consider your ideas and strategies and offer some honest feedback. If you’re wondering why, then remember that it is in their best interest to do so.
The last thing a reputable vendor wants to do is sell someone an idea or innovation that is ill-suited to their strategy, infrastructure, market setting or competitive landscape. Nor do they want to provide something that is either too complicated for a customer, or worse, too expensive. That’s why as part of their due diligence they ask a ton of questions. So long as you trust their intensions, give them as much data as they need so they may offer you their best thinking on your unique needs.
Provide Your Feedback to Influencers
In addition to providing you education and market insights, sales demos also provide you an opportunity to provide feedback to frontline influencers who will absolutely share your concerns and comments with key stakeholders, be they sales professionals, product developers or executive overseers. The reason is simple: demo providers, in many instances, are some of the most highly trained and experienced professionals an organization puts in front of prospective customers.
More than order takers or marketing enthusiasts, demo providers are trained to listen very carefully to what customers need and will pay for. Better than most, they take comments and observations very seriously. Again consider Maughan.
“Whatever nugget a customer shares, be it a comparison to a competitor, an observation about market conditions or something seemingly mundane about how product functions or is packaged, you can bet that a demo professional will take notice. Their livelihoods literally depend on all things big and small,” says Maughan.
Challenge Your Perceptions/Overcome Biases
Finally, let’s address one of the most important reasons for taking a demo: it’s to prove you wrong. That’s right, we said, “wrong.”
While some people will take offense to such a notion, a seasoned professional knows there’s nothing more valuable than to have someone thoroughly — and, more importantly — convincingly challenge if not disprove your biases, perceptions and understandings. This includes everything from how your market operates to how your company functions to even how your technology works.
Few business forums allow for such honest and open discourse as a simple product demo. But like that test drive that Millennials and a growing number of other car shoppers forego, the product demo is a place — make that an opportunity — where you can learn anew.
Business leaders great and small will tell you that an hour spent learning is one of the best ways to spend part of your day.
To see how you can benefit from a new insights from trained professionals, ask for your Impartner demo today.