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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What is this guy talking about again?

Over the years I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with product demos.  In my various sales and marketing roles and even today I’ve had to deliver hundreds of product demos for audiences as small as one person or as large as a few hundred at an event.  Being a regular attendee of industry events, I’ve also had to sit through many, many, many product demos over the years as well.

The good and bad of product demos really crystallized in my head over the holidays.  

In an effort to better share photos with my in-laws, my wife set her father up with a Facebook account.  All he wanted to do was see pictures of his grandson…  My wife had all the best intentions but proceeded to put him through a painstakingly detailed product demo of Facebook.  This is how you post your status update, this is how you search for new friends, this is how you buy a new pig in Farmville, this is how I play Scrabble with my friend from high school I haven’t seen in ten years... on and on it went…  He was put through a gauntlet of about a dozen features and capabilities before he got to see even one photo.  The look on his face said it all… He had fallen asleep.

And that is what’s wrong with product demos.

I’d seen this demo before.  Only it had to do with virtualization, or business intelligence, or systems monitoring, or some other “B2B” related topic.  Very rarely did a product demo ever get to the point.  Or at least they rarely get to the point before I fall asleep.

All I want to do is see some photos!  Or perhaps all I care about is the one report I need!

Sadly technology driven people, and technology driven presenters are too focused on features.  Especially the new ones - those are the shiniest.  Users, customers, father in laws, they just want to get to the good part.  They want to read the last page of the book first.  Or perhaps a better analogy - they just want the headlines.  Takes less time, and gives more value.

So please, for all you product presenters out there.  Get to the point.  Show me what I care about, and save the features for inside your own boardrooms.


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