Using The Tell-Show-Tell Demo Formula Evolution?

I tagged this ‘presentations’, but really it’s about a specific niche here; demonstrations.

The first decade of my career heavily involved the demo-ing of software. From what’s now called ERP, right through to data warehousing-business intelligence wizardry. Then came the Millennial dotcom boom, it was all about on-demand wonders.

I picked up a huge amount of experience in how to stage manage the screen and prospect circus.

I was reminded of this the other day when someone first ran me though how to get across something on a screen. I shared the wisdom.

It’s difficult to distil such knowledge in a casual chat, so I majored on one point as ingrained on me the very first time I was schooled in demo magic;

tell show tell

The best demos, I began, are ones where you never actually press any buttons.

You spend so much time rolling around in the mud with your prospect about their issues and how you really understand them, what’s on the screen becomes secondary. To the point of irrelevant.

Granted, the more ‘technical’ the buyer, the more likely they’re only interested in the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’, so this doesn’t happen to quite the extent I paint, but it can nonetheless.

If you do have to click through a few screens, then there’s three time-honoured stages.

  1. Tell ’em what you’re going to show ’em
  2. Show ’em
  3. Tell ’em what you’ve showed ’em

The alternative offered by my tutor back then was pilloried as bad. Namely, show-tell-show. He explained that to spend an excess of time on the screen over conversing was a no-no.

I liked explaining it in this way. It allowed me to progress the concept.

After all, we all know that ‘telling isn’t selling”, right?!

So wouldn’t Demo 2.0 be more like Ask Show Ask, I pondered aloud?

You can always spot the ‘rookie’, or someone without the benefit of guidance. They spend more time turned towards the screen than the prospect. They commentate on button-clicking. They run through it at the speed of sound.

I always feel that if you do have to deliver the canned demo as if it were a youtube clip, then you’re likely not on firm ground. When you rather nod heads in unison and dive straight into one routine or screen, almost as an aside to back up a point, then you’ve got traction.

Getting into the above discipline is a fine starting point for re-arranging how you make the impact your seek.

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