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12 Tips for Vendors on Briefings and Demos

Posted by on March 18, 2011

I get a handful of vendor briefings and demos every week.  I do this because it’s always great to see what vendors are up to, it’s great for personal research, and it builds relationships.  I can honestly say that I’m the space that I’m in because I 100% love it and the people involved in it, anyone that has talked to me or met me will agree.  I genuinely get excited about this stuff!

I’ve been on some great briefings and on some not so great briefings.  What I think vendors need to realize is that their product is a part of the sell, the other part is the passion and personality of the person selling/presenting. People that develop products or run marketing are great to talk to but if they are boring, not entertaining, and sound like they don’t care; then I’m not going to care either.

I’ve received some great demos from small start-ups that I can tell really care about their product and about changing how business is done and I’ve had some horrible demos from billion dollar enterprise companies where the employees sound like they are reading a script, the presentations are nothing but text, and employees sound like they just don’t care.  It’s really a shame to see this from an organizations that really have no excuse for not having an absolutely amazing presentation.

I thought I would put together this little list of what I personally would love to see from vendors when it comes time to present or brief someone (such as myself).

  1. A little bit of company background is fine but spend more time on the actual product and not on screenshots
  2. Try to tell a story, a text heavy presentation isn’t going to make me excited about your product
  3. The people that do the presenting/briefing should be passionate people that care about their job and their product, try to avoid monotone presentations
  4. Don’t be scared of having a personality, you should have fun on the demo and so should I
  5. If I express interest in your product or service and you say you are going to follow up with me on something, then actually follow up with me
  6. Make sure the key concepts or ideas get across, this is usually best done in visuals, show me the big picture, narrow it down a little bit, and then close with the big picture again
  7. Don’t be scared to reach out to me in the future for ideas, questions, thoughts, or comments
  8. If you’re going to have multiple people on the call send me their contact info and titles so that I know who I’m talking to in advance instead of unveiling guest attendees like some sort of a magician
  9. Try to keep briefings short, there’s no reason they need to be an hour long, 30 mins tops should be fine
  10. Don’t talk to fast and try to leave me with 3 key ideas or takeaways at the end of the presentation
  11. Be prepared to tell me exactly how you differentiate from the competition, not marketing bs but actually how you are different
  12. You don’t have to do things just like everyone else, try something different and surprise me (try playing around with something, send something in the email or maybe an online e-card, something I will remember!)

I really do like a lot of products out there but sometimes it’s just hard to connect with the company because honestly the demos/briefings are just not good (regardless of how amazing their product might be).  You don’t have to listen to a word I say of course, but I can tell you that I’m definitely not the only one who feels this way.

Any other tips for vendors?  If you’re a vendor do you have any tips or recommendations for me (or people you are giving the briefing to?)

  • you think it may help? i will try some of those tips i think… what if it can really help. thanks

  • Story telling sparks people real life drama..this is why realty shows are so popular..people want to hear a story line..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • GeorgeB

    good job jacob, i am always amazed at the number of slide decks that are all print and then i’m read to like a 3 year old.

    what’s your feelings towards a presentation that has two people presenting?

    • Thanks for the kind words George. I’m fine with two people presenting as long as I know who the people are and what their role on the call is. Otherwise it’s just another body and if there is no value add then what’s the point?

  • Hi Jacob,

    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for reminding us all about the importance of story telling and passion in product pitches. As a vendor (full discloure: I’m a product manager at a bzillion dollar enterprise software company) I think one of the key things to be mindful of is that we are not just pitching to a brick wall. Rather we are pitching to another human being — someone just like ourself who wants to be informed, but who also wants to be entertained. Someone like ourself who doesn’t want to have their time wasted. Someone like ourself who is probably coming in with their own ideas and preconceptions, and possibly their own agenda and goals. And while I have likely broken every one of your above rules at some point or another, I’m definitely going to try and make it a point going forward to be more mindful. Thanks again for the reminder.

    Best regards,
    John Burton

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the note, how are things at SAP these days 🙂

      I’m constantly amazed at how many times people are pithing or demoing a product as if there is nobody on the other line. As you said we’re all people and we all want to feel as though we are talking to another human being. Thanks for the comment John, would love to catch up over the next few days or so.

  • Anonymous

    I think these tips are very helpful for us.. Surely we will try this.. Thanks for this tips..
    Aluminium Kozijnen

  • Anonymous

    Those tips are inspired me a lot.. Thanks for this post..
    Aluminium Kozijnen