Do you know why everyone hates technology solution product demos? Because they’re tedious and frequently fail to explain how the solution solves the customer’s specific business challenges and pain points. Making matters worse, solutions for enterprise-level businesses (like supply chain logistics IT solutions) are complex applications covering a broad array of business processes and functions. The Collaborator recently asked members of the UltraShipTMS product demo delivery team about how they’ve driven successful product demos for their Transportation Management System and related logistics software solutions.
“So many demos fail because presenters focus strictly on their product and fail to listen to the voice of the customer” said Manny Martinez, a member of the demo delivery team. “We know all there is to know about the solution we’re selling, but unless we can isolate and communicate the pieces relevant to helping the customer overcome his very real transportation challenges, we’re going to see eyes glaze over.”
Nicholas Carretta, UltraShipTMS president still participates in as many product demos as his busy schedule will allow. He agrees with the assessments of other members of the team. His thoughts on the superior demo included:
- Don’t leave demos to TMS salesmen know too much about software and not nearly enough about transportation and logistics.
- Always strive to demonstrate how the TMS accommodates the specific modes of transportation used by the prospective customer.
- Understand the customers’ rating structure, their particular workflows, what types of exceptions and notifications they require as part of their business rules etc.
“When we demonstrate the value TMS delivers beyond transportation and across the larger supply chain – fulfillment, shipping & receiving, procurement – we find much higher levels of engagement among demo attendees” says Carretta.
Flexing a TMS product demo to achieve this level of relevancy and personalization doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a good deal of preliminary discovery and research about the prospective customers’ business; their locations; the quirks of their industry; etc. Gathering this type of intelligence should begin long before the demo occurs according to Sherry Brown, Product Development Director who often presents for Ultra. Her thoughts on the superior demo include:
- Learn and match prospective buyers’ terminology. If they call it an ‘order’ and we call it a ‘shipment’, we modulate so that the demo approaches the customer on their own terms.
- Perform significant due diligence on the organization ensuring a highly relevant pitch.
- Provide insight to customers, helping them understand what their needs are and how the solution meets them. Don’t just rattle off a list of all the features and functions of the tools.
“We know this strategy works because we notice that insights we help prospective customers achieve frequently appear in the RFx documents they issue and even help them to better assess the competitive solutions they’re considering” says Brown.
UltraShip demo teams ask questions often during the course of the demo process to gain better insight into the transportation and logistics practices in play within the organization they’re speaking with. With a more nuanced understanding of the prospective customers’ needs, presenters maintain sure footing when the audience has questions that draw the demo off script. “Rigid demos are problematic because if they’re sharing scenarios that don’t jive with the real-life situations facing would-be users, the presenter is forced to scramble or change the subject” says Carretta. We do our homework and ask plenty of questions to learn even more. This way, if the discussion is driven in a direction outside what we’ve planned, we can shift gears and show the audience what it is they want to see. Not just what we think they should see.”