Solution Provider Advice: Spend Matters Briefings and Sales Demos

Communication is above all about being effective. Even the most elegant presentation is a failure if given to the wrong audience. Actually, a poorly executed presentation might still work out well if delivered to the right audience, as an audience seasoned enough to be able to see through the awkward delivery would see the benefits and potential.

Unfortunately I find myself in the second category a little too often. I see (or think I see) what might be a great solution being presented, but the demonstration format or demo jock is clouding the message. Granted, I would probably be critiqued by a few providers for my own highly inquisitive style during demos, but providers should see this as a sign of my interest. They ought to be a lot more concerned if I were silent during presentations. I’ll wager that this holds true with most buyers as well. From a sales team perspective, few things leave you with a lower feeling of closing likelihood than a demo with a silent, seemingly indifferent audience. Conversely, an inquisitive crowd is a sign that they “get it” and that chances of getting selected or shortlisted are good.

I have written about a few briefing “dos and don’ts” in the past, and here is the essence of the “do” points, in a crisper format:

  • Don’t be trite. We are part of the choir, so no need to preach to us about the virtues of e-sourcing, cloud-based solutions, breaking down data silos and so on.
  • Be different. All providers have a sweet spot client, the kind of firm that just hits all your right buttons. Talk about how your functionality is uniquely suited to that client. No need to focus on what is available in nearly all apps out there.
  • Be modest. At least a little bit – everybody can’t be the leading provider!  I know you love your product, but a modicum of self-deprecation doesn’t hurt.
  • Let us be inquisitive. Do build a deeper relationship. You should bring your seasoned team.

Now, I feel a need to repeat this message. In our current sourcing marketplace study, several firms went about the demo the wrong way. Not egregiously so, but several of the pointers above were ignored. Whatever rubbed us the wrong way here at Spend Matters – where we claim to be at least as informed about the state of procurement solution affairs as the typical buyer – would probably have come across the same way with a prospective buyer organization.

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