12 Things That Drive Me Bonkers About Software Demos

If you are a software developer and have never had to purchase software from a vendor, you are an incredibly fortunate individual. For those of us that have had to go through the process, I’m sure that we can all agree that it can be quite painful. One of my biggest pain points is organizing and sitting through a demo. For me, a real-time demonstration of a product can either boost my confidence in it or tear it to shreds. But why does this demonstration have to be so incredibly painful? It shouldn’t have to be, and if you are a salesman for a software vendor, I highly advise you to humbly accept my gripes about vendor demos below.

1. Making it Difficult to Schedule a Demo

If you are selling a product, you should expect people to want to see it up and running with live data. Why, then, would you make it down-right complicated for someone to contact you to set up a demonstration? I shouldn’t have to hunt through every page of your website to find contact information. If you really like me, you’ll give me a button to request a demonstration from the product’s information page.

Additionally, when you request my information, please only ask for what you actually need. You don’t need to know the size of my company, my company name, my date of birth, or how many children I have. You need my contact information. That is all.

2. Spamming Me After I Register for a Demo

I have given you my contact information, because I have requested a demo. I did not give you my consent to allow you to spam me for the rest of my life. You are authorized to contact me for the purposes of the demo alone. I don’t care how awesome you think your product is. If it is all that and a bag of chips, I’ll find out when you demo your product.

3. Not Coming Prepared to a Demo

You have most likely contacted me and have asked my why I am interested in your product. In this screening, I have given you ample opportunity to form a context for why and how I want to use your product. Why then, after spending 30 minutes with me on the phone, are you going to ask me how I plan on using your software during the demonstration?

4. Not Demonstrating the Software

I have asked you for a product demonstration. Why are you giving me a PowerPoint presentation of the features of the software that are readily available on your website. I have read this documentation already and it is the reason I am asking for a demonstration. I want to see your software in action and I want to see it solve the problems and challenges that are unique to my company.

5. Demonstrating in an Unstable Environment

Why is your demo environment broken? You’ve known about this appointment now for over a week. If your environment is broken during a scheduled demo, how then can I trust that it will be functional during our critical business hours?

6. Demonstrating only Trivial Features

My use cases go way beyond your simple “Hello World” example. Please cater your demonstration to the complexity of my tasks, and, if possible, show me some real-world examples that have pushed your product to the limits. I need to know what it is capable of.

7. Asking Someone That Is Difficult to Understand to Present Information

I realize in this interconnected world that not everyone is going to speak the same language. I know that many people have to speak many different languages just to get a job done. But you should always know your audience and come prepared to communicate as effectively as possible. You may have an incredibly bright individual on staff, but if my staff cannot understand him or her, you are wasting our time. I want to invest energy in determining if your software is right for my organization. I don’t want to invest energy in trying to understand the presenter.

8. Awkward Demo Silence

I agree that you should keep the audience engaged and that you should be willing to accept feedback. But why in the world do you have to stop the demo every 30 seconds and ask an audience of 20 if there are any questions? And then, when there is dead silence, why do you take so long to continue on. I hate awkward silence and you are just making it worse.

9. Beating Around the Bush

If your product doesn’t support something, just say so. I have a checklist of items that I need to address and I don’t have a lot of time to waste. Take it as a feature request and move on. And please, for the love of God, don’t lie to me. If it is possible, but will take hours of customization, be honest about it.

10. Crappy Font Sizes

I’m going to be projecting your screen to a TV in my conference room. Yes, it’s a big TV, but my colleagues and I will be sitting 15 feet away from it. I hate having to squint to see the teeny-tiny little text that you are viewing one foot away from your laptop screen. I don’t want to bring binoculars to a meeting.

11. Pressing Me for a Decision

You aren’t a car salesman. I’m not buying a Ford or a Toyota. I’m buying a product that is going to potentially cost my organization millions of dollars. Quit asking me if i’m going to buy your product. Stop spamming me with email. Quit trying to call me. When I’m ready to make a decision, I’ll reach out to you.

12. Making the NDA Process a Difficult Process

There are certain things about my organization that I need to keep secret and you need to respect that. My organization has made it incredibly simple for you to legally state that you will not share my secrets. It’s only after this agreement is signed that we can get into the nitty-gritty details of what I’m after. Why can’t you just accept my organization’s prepared NDA form and sign the dang thing? You make it so painful when I have to take your form to my legal department. Remember, I’m buying from you. You aren’t buying from me.

What issues have you had when trying to schedule and sit through a software demo?


Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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