How to Get the Most Value from a Remote Demo

July 20, 2011

Are you noticing more and more vendors are offering remote demo services vs. visiting you in person?  You might think this is less effective and provides less of a personal touch, but with today’s technology and if conducted right – a remote demo can benefit you more than you think.

 In today’s tough economic environment, travel budgets have been slashed and companies are looking for ways to do more at a lower cost.  Remote presentations are a means for companies to realize savings but it is vital that they be done effectively to avoid sacrificing quality for cost.

The difficulty of remote demos for both the vendor and their audience is ensuring that there is a deep understanding of the vendor’s solutions without presenting in person.  For the vendor, this requires that the presentation be delivered effectively, that the right people deliver the information and answer questions, and that issues are addressed as they arise throughout the demo. On the client side, attendees must have a clear understanding on the functionality they want to see and be able to ask questions and effectively use their peoples’ time.

The obvious downside to remote demos is the loss of visual cues that make face to face meetings so effective – such as a quizzical look or a raised eyebrow, side conversations about functionality, the concept of getting to “know” the person behind the product, etc.  But, if done effectively, a remote demo can benefit all parties in the following ways:

  • Remote meetings can be conducted on short notice – getting the answer you need when you need them
  • More people involved – remote meetings not only let the vendor provide more experts to address all questions but also provide the client the opportunity to include a larger audience from their end – without incurring travel cost or draining resources’ time
  • Sessions can be recorded for reference purposes and distributed to people unable to attend the session

Current technology also makes remote presentations effective and beneficial.  Webcam, videoconferencing and telepresence capabilities (like the ones used by PORTIA) provide the “personal touch” by enabling parties to see each other.  While this does not replace the onsite visit, it strikes a good cost / benefits balance and remotes the core problem surrounding remote meetings.

If using video technology is not a viable option, PORTIA uses the approach of having a champion or coach attend the demo as the “eyes” for the meeting.  This benefits both the prospect and the vendor, ensuring all potential pitfalls of a remote demo can be managed.  The coach can be someone from the vendor or clients, so long as they are skilled in this role and are knowledgeable about the demo process.

The coach’s role is to:

  • Handle the technical setup of the meeting, including managing room logistics (ex: using a projector) , running collaboration tools (ex: WebEx) and testing the setup prior to the meeting
  • Manage questions documentation by keeping notes on all issues
  • Oversee meeting latency, including alerting the remote presenter of lags in the presentation,  commenting on the pace of the presentation and noting the coming and goings of people such as identifying any new participants and their roles
  • Pick up on non-verbal cues and managing them accordingly (ex: a raised hand, furrowed brow or look of confusion on demo material)
  • Reiterate unheard questions that aren’t picked up by the audio technology and ensuring questions are properly addressed
  • Manage  any side conversations by informing the presenter that there is a discussion / issue to address
  • Provide commentary where appropriate to inform the presenter that the audience is following the demo (ex: shaking their head in approval)

In order to obtain the benefits of a remote demo – such as reducing costs, including more experts, improving convenience, providing quicker information, etc. – the process needs to be carefully managed.  PORTIA has a dedicated team of sales consultants with deep experience in providing both in-person and remote demos.  Following the above guidance and working with our consultants ensures that you can learn about PORTIA effectively, in a manner that is convenient and cost effective for your organization.

– David Craig, Manager of Sales Consulting, Americas


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