A cartoon of a person looking puzzled and sad while looking at a loading screen of the product demo

Myth: A startup demo system has to be unreliable

Let’s bust a myth today. When you browse LinkedIn or other systems where Presales people hang out a common myth is, that a startup demo system is always unreliable. Everybody and their moms have been in the situation where the site just kept loading forever just minutes before the demo and the sweat came trickling down quickly. That’s OK – we’ve all been there. What is not OK is that this is treated as a kind of badge of honor for startups. It simply has to be that way.

My startup service is unreliable

That is the message we transpire with that type of demo system. When you sell a Saas product the demo simply has to work, 100%, all the time. It’s a startup, we don’t have all the features and functions that the customer might want, therefore we need to be trustworthy and reliable. The demo is the first thing my future customers see and as rewarding as it is to solve a problem in realtime and show your expertise, it puts a big obstacle in the way of our future relationship with the prospect.

„You know, their demo didn’t work also“

For sure you will hear about a stuttering demo later in the process, most likely from your champion. It will take some serious work to smooth that dent out. So let’s avoid it. But how? Well, we need to make the demo system rock solid and have it under operational supervision like the production system.

And the is the underlying cause for the startup myth: Not enough attention on the demo system. Usually it has been build by the development team or the first SE as a side project which got some additions later in life. No documentation, no plan, no failover setup. It works one way or another and that is good enough. That is fine for the first few months when you still figure out how and what to show. When you grow the SE team though it will be a constant topic of discussion and eat up more time then it is worth.

How to make it better

First of all: Get management funding for the demo. Get commitment from the top. It is your #1 sales tool, it has to work. Ideally you get funding for a product manager role and a fulltime developer for it – at least for the initial design and setup. Then you develop a basic system that covers 90% of what you typically show, create some usecases that are wrapped in a story which can be told while demoing, implement it. Then hand it over to operations and as it is designed in a way that you can with the click of a button spawn a copy or 10 create failover replicas on standby. Easy.

4 months very well invested

In my last company it took us about 4 months to design a demo system from scratch – yes, lots of meetings with peers to define the usecases – and bring it live. No worries, it is not a fulltime job, it comes on the side to your dayjob eating about 10% of your time. I served as the PM and we had one developer working fulltime on setting it up once we had the content defined. But this system is still serving us after more than 4 years and even if lots of things were added the foundation is still solid and carries the story. The main reason why this still works is that we got the commitment from management which allowed us invest time and money into the design and the intial setup.

The Demo is salestool #1

In most of the cases the demo is the first contact of the customer with the product. Remember? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure it is a lasting one and it is a good one. We use the same base setup for any kind of specialised demo or tradeshow booths with specific content or dedicated customer scenarios which we demoed outside of a POC to big accounts. All derived from a very well designed base systems

If you want to know more about how to design a demo system or facilitate a workshop around it ping me via email or call me directly. Together we can create the best demo possible for you.

We can also talk about it in our community: https://school-of-presales.mn.co/ – come and join us there.

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Myth: A startup demo system is never stable

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with lots of ❤️ for Presales

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