Demo Tips From The Best In The Business - Peter Cohan of Great Demo!

Demo Tips From The Best In The Business - Peter Cohan of Great Demo!
Larson Stair
I asked Peter Cohan, veteran of SaaS sales and thought leader within the presales space, what is the biggest mistake you see software professionals doing on product demos and what is your best advice to solve it.

I initially met Peter back in January of this year after starting Techstars and launching Demoflow. He was one of the first thought leaders within presales that I showed the product to and it was clear to me at that time, that he knew a ton about the space and could offer a lot of advice on how to build the product to solve real life challenges experienced by sales and presales professionals. It was also clear to me that I could learn a LOT from him about the best ways to present my product and conduct sales calls.

So when I sought out to glean insights from some of the top presales leaders in SaaS, he was an obvious candidate who I knew could offer incredibly valuable tips. He's helped guide Demoflow team's sales and presentation strategy, and even offered a few great ideas on the product front that you'll see in the application today. I could talk to Peter for hours about SaaS sales and presales best practices and walk away with pages of great suggestions on how to deliver a Great Demo!.

For this article, I kept it simple and asked him to outline two things:

1. What is the biggest mistake you see when people conduct product demos?

2. What are you best suggestions for solving these challenges.

Peter Cohan - Great Demo!

Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of The Second Derivative and the author of the Great Demo! methodology, focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results – primarily through improving organizations’ demonstrations. 

The bulk of his experience is with complex, enterprise software and strategic systems sold to varied audiences in a range of vertical markets.  He has enjoyed roles in technical and product marketing, marketing management, presales and presales management, sales and sales management, senior management and the C-Suite - as well as serving on Boards of Directors.

He has delivered thousands of demos – and has been on the receiving end of thousands of demos from a broad variety of vendors around the world, from start-ups to the world’s biggest software vendors, and verticals from accounting to zymology.

Before The Second Derivative, Peter founded the Discovery Tools® business unit at Symyx Technologies, Inc., where he grew the business from an empty spreadsheet into a $30 million per year operation.  Prior to Symyx, Peter served in marketing, sales, and management positions at MDL Information Systems, a leading provider of scientific information management software.  Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc., is an advisor to IN2SV, Inc. and a mentor to StartX, the Stanford University start-up accelerator.  He holds a degree in chemistry.

Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales and presales, business development, and as a member of the C-suite.  He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


Biggest Mistakes When Conducting Demos

  1. Insufficient Discovery
  2. Saving the best for last
  3. Not communicating the business value
  4. Assuming “one size demo fits all customers”
  5. Ignoring Discovery
  6. Neglecting to summarize
  7. Not driving interactivity
  8. Not utilizing Vision Generation methods
  9. Not remembering what it is like to be the customer

Best Tips for Solving These Challenges

  1. Be a customer.  Seriously – regain the customer’s perspective of being on the receiving end of SDR, BDR,  and sales rep calls and resulting demos.  It is eye-opening!
  2. Get trained in preparing and delivering demos from a 3rd party (I can recommend a very effective course called Great Demo! – I know the author personally!)
  3. Get trained in preparing and delivering demos from a colleague (who has been through a Great Demo! course)

Having sat through dozens of demos in recent weeks for software's we're evaluating, I can agree with Peter that it's incredibly eye opening to be on the receiving end. You notice great practices that sales reps will do and a TON of poor habits that they've pick up along the way. Watching others conduct product demos can an incredibly effective way to hone in your own craft. Other ways to do this is by reviewing recordings of your own presentations (I know, most people hate their own voice... I get it), shadowing one of your colleagues at your company, or maybe even a colleague at a different organization. I've learned a ton from watching and listening to demos in various industries. My hope in sharing this information is that you can absorb a few of the tips that Peter preaches and implement them into your professional life.

If you're looking to get in touch with Peter to talk about his best practices a bit more, reach out to him via the contact information below:

Web Site: See some of the work and services that Peter offers on his site.

Blog: He consistently writes great content that you can follow here.

LinkedIn Group: He and his colleagues have built an incredible LinkedIn group of presales professionals sharing best practices and content.

Telephone: +1 650 631-3694


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