5 tips to get an effective martech demo

Have you ever found yourself (and your team) wasting time, missing out on opportunities, or failing to meet your goals? It can be perplexing when you know that your strategy is airtight—what could be holding your back?

After analyzing all the clues like a detective in a riveting HBO finale, you may realize the culprit is lurking in your marketing technology stack! A bad technology choice can pose a variety of problems for you and your team—maybe it’s too slow, maybe it doesn’t scale, maybe it doesn’t sync effectively with your other technologies or maybe it’s just too clunky and difficult to use.

So, if it’s time for a change, how should you go about it? Some of my colleagues have written excellent guides on how to get started but I’d like to focus this post on the product demo, which is a critical part of any evaluation of technology.

During your evaluation, the product demo is your chance to understand how this new platform will change your life for the better. Rather than a generic recording, you get to speak to experts who’ll be able to answer your questions and paint a clear picture of how you can lead your team to success.

Based on my experience in talking hundreds of customers through this process, I’d like to explain how you can use 5 simple steps to make sure the sales demo you receive is a valuable exercise that will help you pick the best platform for your team.

1. Partner with Your Sales Rep

You might be tempted to skip the discovery call altogether and insist on seeing the platform immediately. Maybe you find yourself annoyed with the barrage of questions you’re getting about your business and your evaluation when all you want to do is buy something immediately. After all, you already know what the problem is! You just need something to fix it.

However, going into a demo without explaining your requirements means that you’ll either see every single product available or a generic overview, which will make it hard to connect the dots. This will translate to a longer evaluation and a harder time making the right choice.

If you take the time to explain your goals to the salesperson, they’ll be able to craft a custom demo that will answer your questions, address your pain points and give you clear differentiators for your eventual decision. Instead of thinking of your sales rep as pesky, consider them as a partner on your team who’ll help you make the right choice and get your team on the right track.

2. Make an Obstacle Course

For the demo, think of your situation today. What parts of your process are frustrating? What parts are critically important? Use these activities to map out 3-5 “missions” that you want to see tested out during a demo. This could be as mundane as sending out an email to something more complex such as managing and reporting on all your webinar programs for the year.

Once you’ve got these, ask the sales people to demonstrate how their platform would handle these tasks and make sure that they spell out for each of them:

  • How It’s done.
  • How it’s different than what you’re doing today.
  • Why it’s better than the competition.

By doing this, you’re avoiding the dreaded PowerPoints or canned recordings that you could just as easily see in a Google search. Instead, you’ll have a customized demonstration where you can ask pointed questions. You’ll be able to walk away with a clear understanding of how each platform will make you and your team more successful after the evaluation.

3. Engage and Be Active

A productive demonstration will be like a conversation. As the sale person to walk you through each “mission” you’ve crafted for them, offer critique and feedback on how you see yourself using the platform. If you’ve seen any competitors, ask them how they differentiate themselves. Find out how their customers in similar situations have used their platform. Finally, imagine yourself in the platform repeating their steps over the course of the year. An interface that may seem simple to use could quickly become limiting while an overly complex system could become difficult to use at scale. Make sure to voice any concerns you have and carefully consider their rebuttals.

4. Get The Right People Involved

Nobody likes surprises. If your bold new software implementation is going to cause ripples across the company, you’ll want to make sure you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes.

If your project involves changes to your database or your website, it’s a good idea to bring on a representative from IT to explain how your company’s infrastructure works. If you want to implement a new strategy to drive leads to your sales department, it doesn’t hurt to bring on a sales person to see how life will change for them after implementation.

This means they’ll be able to ask the right questions and will be prepared for the new direction you’ll be boldly steering the company in. The last thing you need during an evaluation is someone derailing you at the last minute.

5. Debrief and Follow Up

As you sit through the demo, be sure to take some time afterward to discuss your impressions with colleagues. Try to recall the details of previous demos and compare what you saw. If anything concerns you, reach out to your sales person and see how they respond. It’s very likely that they do have that functionality but simply couldn’t show it because of time constraints. If it makes sense, be sure to schedule a follow-up demonstration to address any lingering questions.

I hope these steps are helpful for you in your next evaluation. If this turns out to be useful or if you have extra steps that you think are missing, please let me know in the comments below!