About 18 months ago, I was challenged to evolve our team’s product demonstrations to be more unique, value-stacked, and memorable. This was, in large, due to the competition catching up with our market leading solution and we wanted to truly innovate the way our solution was being presented. I was selected as a leader for the team to help modernize our demos. With so many digital assets available today, buyers are completing the vast majority of their research prior to engaging vendors. We felt it was important, now more than ever, that we “cut the fat” when it’s not needed. Fast forward to May of this year and our team is delivering enablement training to our 50 Pre-Sales Consultants, Directors, Managers and VPs on our “new way” to demo the value of our company’s solutions.
The Value Vignette
It began with an idea. What if, instead of delivering a more traditional and linear demonstration (i.e. step 1, step 2, step 3, etc.), we created “bite sized” scenes. The scenes articulate the value our solution offered based on outcomes that current clients have achieved using our platform. The goal was to create many different outcome statements to use as the core building blocks for our demos. We began calling them value vignettes.
Think of a value vignette as a single outcome you want your prospect to achieve. An example of this might be ‘Make better business decisions with the insights you need’. Once the value vignette is defined, you can begin crafting your demo proof points to support the desired outcome, connecting value with feature/functionality along the way. What you might find is that your demo proof points for a single value vignette come from multiple areas of the product where traditionally you would have covered these at very different times throughout the demo. For example, let’s examine the ‘Make better business decisions with the insights you need’ value vignette. You might start with the ease of use in which data is collected, move into the real-time alerts and notifications as data is analyzed, and finish with dashboards and reports for data to be reviewed. Over time, your library of value vignettes will grow!
The Value Wedge
As you examine your value vignettes, some of them may be considered a value wedge. Every value wedge is a value vignette, but not every value vignette is a value wedge. Still with me? A value wedge can be defined as a value vignette that is important to the customer, defensible, and unique to your product. These are the demo proof points that differentiate your product. It is recommended to have at least one value wedge somewhere in your demo. It could be at the beginning, middle, or end. Hopefully, your value wedge library begins to grow too.
Bringing it all together
Now that our value vignette/value wedge library paired with demo proof points and content to support were set up for success, we were challenged with figuring out the structure of our demo. As always, after the essential discovery is completed, a win theme is identified. A win theme is a single idea or sentence that represents why your solution is the best choice for the prospect. Essentially, they are the explanation of why your company is awesome at what they do and why your solution will make them a happy customer. The value vignettes/value wedges you select should always align with your win theme.
The structure of our demos radically shifted. Each value vignette was presented in a tell-show-tell format tying back value on the second tell each and every time. It is during the second tell where open-ended questions should always be asked. Additionally, this is the perfect time to pause, collect yourself, and have your AE/SE step in to ensure items covered were understood and to reiterate the impact to the prospect’s organization. We decided upon the following order:
5-Minute Compelling Opener
Value Vignette #1
Value Vignette #2
Value Vignette #3
Value Vignette #4
Demo Flex Time
You’ll notice, up to this point, we have yet to cover a couple of items on this list, one being the 5-minute compelling opener and demo flex time. The 5-minute compelling opener is designed to engage your audience, skip the fluff, frame your intro around a single idea (win theme), and be memorable. A special shout-out to Stephanie Day for her fantastic blog titled ‘How to nail the first 5 minutes of your product demo…and why it matters!’. The opening to your demo is key to getting your prospects engaged, excited, and thirsty for more!
Demo flex time is reserved for features and functionality that were either not demonstrated or need to be further examined. Think of this as “spot treating”. This is built-in, prospect-directed time to cover anything that wasn’t addressed in the value vignettes. “What else do you need to understand to feel comfortable with our solution?” “What items covered today would you like for me to revisit?”
An unexpected option arose for us. We were able to use The Menu Approach (shout-out to Peter Cohan) even when we had conducted a discovery and knew the prospect’s needs and interests. In fact, for this demo model to be truly successful, a discovery is almost a prerequisite. It is the foundation for the win theme and core building blocks - value vignettes and value wedge. Using The Menu Approach, demos in some cases became more prospect-driven, allowing them to select which value vignette to start with. This of course requires some PreSales professional flexibility!
In conclusion, our experience thus far with the “new-way” utilizing value vignettes has been more positive than not. There is the occasional need to revert back to a traditional, linear type of demo but prospects are engaged from the start and are consistently reminded of the value your solutions bring to their organization throughout.
Have any other organizations found success with a similar approach?
Evan Nore is a trusted adviser and Solutions Consultant for Spend Management SaaS Solutions. He is keen to form strong, lasting business relationships between colleagues, clients, and providers. Connect with Evan on LinkedIn.