My best demo ever was actually one I didn’t do. This might sound very strange, but bear with me. Ten years ago, I was involved in a Proof of Concept/Value (PoC) project. We were working very closely with the customer, because there was an enormous amount of complexity in both the use-cases and data. This was an on-site PoC, so we were working with real customer data. In the early stages, we got some very interesting findings that were important to the customer.
A few weeks into the PoC, our main contacts started to use our software themselves more and more. Those early findings gave them so much energy and enthusiasm, and they were eager to find out more. Just a few days before the final presentation and demo of the PoC in front of all stakeholders, our contacts at the customer asked if they could do the presentation and demo, without any involvement from us. We thought this would be a really good way to convince all the stakeholders that the software we were offering was both powerful and easy to use—as well as perfectly matched to their environment—so we happily agreed. We were not even in the conference room during the demo, and our presence was never required, although we stayed on site in case of any technical issues.
The customer’s demo was a big success. We won the contract.
The lesson for me is that collaboration with customers is crucial, and that sometimes less vendor involvement is more. You don’t always need to do everything yourself. Working on analytical software with customers can also be a co-creation process. As the vendor, you might know the software, but your customers know their business. In many ways, the ideal outcome from any PoC engagement is that your customers no longer need you.
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