After The Demo, Make Sure You Do This One Thing

You’ve just finished a long demo with a prospect and you feel it went great.  The audience was participating the whole time, they agreed to another follow-up demo in the future, and told you they loved your new data entry tool.  Time to celebrate right?  Not so fast.  Anyone who’s seen movies like Vantage Point, Run Lola Run, 11:14, or others like them, knows that different people can experience or interpret the same thing from vastly different perspectives.  A common issue with inexperienced demo professionals is their tendency to lose sight of the forest for the trees.  They’re so concerned about making sure all the agenda items and demo requirements are addressed, that they sometimes fail to see that there are other, sometimes more important, signals from the audience.

Consider the sales rep who accompanied you on your meeting.  He saw audience interaction throughout the meeting, but it was only from the end users, not the decision makers or key influencers in the room.  That follow-up demo they agreed to was actually just for one particular end user who wanted to see how a very specific scenario would work for her in your software, with no one else scheduled to attend.   And your new data entry tool – IT loved that it would easily integrate with their existing database, but the end users didn’t seem thrilled about it, and your sales rep knows for a fact that at least three of your competitors’ solutions can also integrate with the prospect’s database.

You and your rep were in the same meeting, but your rep was taking the time to read the room while you were delivering your demo.  By doing so, he was able to pick up on clues you missed, getting an entirely different take on how the meeting went.

In most cases, having more eyes and ears in the room will help you more successfully manage the meeting, but you need to capture those perspectives for them to be useful.

Regardless of whether you’re delivering an on-premise (in-person) demo or a remote online meeting, always schedule time to do a team debrief as soon as possible afterwards.  For on-premise meetings, don’t book a flight out of town that requires you to leave right from the demo – give yourself the extra time to sit down and compare notes with your team.  A team debrief can accomplish several important goals:

  • Determine How the Meeting Went – A colleague of mine, Brian Hartlen, always asked two very simple, yet effective questions at the debrief meeting: what went well, and what didn’t go well?  You might be surprised at how varied, and insightful, the answers to just these two questions can be.  Whether it’s because of different perspectives or experience, you’ll get a much more accurate assessment of the meeting, and where you need to improve by asking those two questions.

  • Confirm Next Steps and Takeaways – Confirm everyone’s understanding of what deliverables and next steps are required, and who will be responsible for each one.   If any of the deliverables require input from people that didn’t attend the meeting, make sure to let them know as soon as possible with specific details of what’s required, and more importantly, what date that input is due.  Remember that non-sales team members have their own day jobs and may not be used to executing on fast turnaround times.

    If you can’t meet up (e.g. you’re rushing to the airport to catch a flight), agree to a time that the sales team will reconvene on the phone to discuss.  In the meantime, before you fall asleep on the flight home, record your thoughts and any captured next steps or follow-up deliverables while they’re still fresh in your mind.  Once the sales team has had a chance to compare and consolidate their notes and feedback, bring in the wider team (e.g. customer success, product management, etc) where needed.

  • Assess Team Performance – As a sales leader, I always used the team debrief to provide performance feedback to my team and to have them provide feedback to each other (including me).  While some negative feedback might be reserved for individual 1-on-1 calls, encouraging transparency within the team while the meeting is still fresh in everyone’s heads usually solicits the most honest input.  Hopefully the team’s individual objectives are aligned (to win the business) and everyone sees the feedback as a method to improve individually and collectively, but sales leaders should be aware of individuals who might not be receptive to this type of communication.

Having an immediate team debrief seems intuitive, but too many sales teams defer it to a time long after the demo, forgetting important details in the process.  Instead, consider the debrief just as important as the discovery call, and you’ll always be sure to schedule time for it.

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