Introducing the Demo Maturity Model


Author: Jonathan Friedman
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Introducing the Demo Maturity Model

Nick Capozzi - Head of Storytelling:

Okay, we’ll just give a couple of seconds for all the participants who have been here all day at Demo HQ Day, which is very exciting - everything you need to know about turning your demo operation into reality. And of course there's no one better frankly to leave us today in our last session other than Jonathan, our CEO and co-founder. How are you doing today, Jonathan?

Jonathan Friedman - CEO at Demostack:

Doing well super excited about the event! The feedback we've gotten is fantastic, so please keep sending it. I love seeing messages of people that enjoyed it.

Nick Capozzi - Head of Storytelling:

I learned a lot as myself, so I think it's going really well. So we'll just quickly introduce the next session. So this is introducing the Demo Maturity Model. The perfect demo is a mirror - it should leave your buyers seeing their own reflection in your product. But that's not always a reality when buyers want to see product on the first call, and you haven't done proper discovery yet. So Jonathan today is going to take you through the Demo Maturity Model, a methodology to help your sales organization determine when to show what, so you can minimize the input needed from the buyer and maximize personalization. Jonathan, take it away, my friend.

Jonathan Friedman - CEO at Demostack:

Fantastic. So this is something I'm very excited about. And we built this model, using multiple people here internally, so I'm excited to show it to you.

Today I want to talk about the demo maturity model, which is essentially something that I started thinking about with the team based on all kinds of a big surge of interest that I saw from the community. So what am I talking about? If you're on linkedin, you see a lot of these kinds of posts about, “Just give them a demo,” right? And you see this is Breezy in this case. But there are a few of these, and you know, you see 961 comments, 67 shares, 4,600 likes… obviously very engaging.

And you know I'll just read it real quick. She says, “This has to stop. If people want a demo, give them a demo period.”

And then there's some, you know there's absolutely some more clarification on it. But the main piece is that it really splits the community in two of everyone that is kind of in sales, sales, engineering, even marketing, and many other related fields.

And it really feels like there are two sides of this argument. It’s the argument of… “Hey, a great demo must be tailored, and it must be after proper discovery.” That's kind of being the more traditional, the more traditional voices out there, and the way sales have been done.

And now you hear a lot about PLG and PLS. All that stuff you hear about how you should give a demo as fast as possible. Don't make your buyers break their backs. Think about their experience. It's not nice to be interrogated or get a lot of questions and go to 2 or 3 meetings before you even see a product, when you just want to see the product. And the buyer today is very informed and educated, and you should just show them what it is.

These two voices are very valid. If you go to that discussion, you'll see a lot of people arguing about different flavors of both sides. And today, with the Demo Maturity Model. I wanted to kind of see if we can get more nuanced about this rather than just having it black or white.

But first I want to go into both sides, and then before we get new ones kind of explore those. Let's start with this side of just showing a product. It's like, you know, it's like buying a shirt. So I heard that even some voices in the community just kind of equated to that.

Buying Software is Complex

So I would start there and say, like, hey, the wrong analogy can actually cause damage because buying software is not like buying a shirt.

Why is software not like buying a shirt? Well think about software for a second.

First take. If you talk about digital products, they are abstract, right? You lose a lot of your senses as a human being. The touch, the smell. Even seeing in a sense you can see a screen, maybe, but you can't see the whole thing. You can't hold it. You can’t feel it. It's not tactical, so it's abstract. It usually also mirrors kind of a business concept right in software. It’s not built to just be in kind of a void. It connects to the business side and activities of people on the ground, and that makes it very hard to comprehend. If you think about it as just something that you show.

The other piece is that products are surrounded by walls. The difference between a product and a website is those walls that keep it protected and secure, which is very important, and there's data inside. Usually that's precious to someone that you don't want to have leak, and the more mature products are, the more protected they are. But walls go both ways. You can’t get from the outside in, but it's also very hard to get from the inside out.

So how do you communicate them? So products are like that, and they're really closed off, and it makes it very hard to communicate them out.

And then the third piece is that products are built for a sequential kind of linear usage first time, user and how you kind of, you know, connect different systems, and then you go to the other side. A lot of things are empty in the beginning; they're in different states. If something is missing, you get a prompt about that. They're built for actual usage on the ground, not for showcasing.

And so it's very hard to kind of go forward in time and show how our product could look or simulate what a product would look like. This kind of thing was mentioned before, like what would it be a year from now, and/or different vantage points? How does it look from the user perspective, or how does it look for the admin perspective?

Products are not built for that. You're either a user or an admin right? And if not, if you're one or the other, you’re carved so for the storyteller. That's really hard to explain. And so, if you think again about the product like a shirt, obviously that doesn't have any of these complications which we're kind of referring to here.

So what would be a good analogy?

Well, to me it's more like buying a suit right? Why is it that way? Well, there are very different use cases if you come to the store and I sell suits, and you'd be like I need a suit, and I give you a funeral suit. But you're going to a wedding.

It's not gonna be great at all right? I really need to know what you're trying to do with the suit to help, to be able to help you and guide you within. You know, when in the shop, and suits are modular right? They need to fit your belt, shoes, cuffs, and other pieces that you might already own, or you might actually need. So that's also very important.

Suits are way more expensive. If I spend 20 bucks on the shirt, and I don't like it, I'll recover. If I spend $2,000 on a suit, and it doesn't fit me, that's like a way bigger thing for me, obviously. And suits are expected to last longer, and they need adjustments and maintenance from time to time.

So you see this is actually complex.

Then suddenly, it's not that clear cut that you can come into a store and quickly take any kind of suit that you need, and just see it, and then be gone. You need some tailoring right?

So the modern voices are not wrong, though. Talking about the buyer experience, you need to remember there is a buyer out there. And those buyers are more informed, and they have options, and every category has competitors and people trying to also serve the customers you're trying to serve.

So you need to keep that in mind. You can't think about only a traditional way of life. Oh, this is how sales are done. We ask a million questions, and then, if you qualify, we'll tell you something. No, you need to think about your buyer, you need to protect their time and their needs to be considered. Not just because you're kind, but because if you want to compete effectively in a modern space with people that want to see product if they are educated.

You just need to get better at what you do.

What Does The Perfect Product Demo Look Like?

Okay, so we kind of dismantle both sides. So let's talk now about the Demo Maturity Model.

Here's what I want to do is introduce this and kind of explain how it suddenly takes the best of each approach and combines them together.

We'll also end on a very practical example that will show you how to bring this theory home.

Now if I run a company called Demostack, people judge us very harshly for our demo. So I don't have a good demo, why should I sell anyone on doing a better demo?

A lot of people ask me as well like, hey, Jonathan, what does the perfect demo look like?

So my answer to that is a perfect demo is actually a mirror. If the buyer can see their own reflection in your product, that is a perfect demo.

For that, obviously you need to know two things and combine them. You need to know thy buyer, and you need to know thy product.

So what does that exactly entail?

The first thing I would say, especially talking to the SE crowd, you are amazing storytellers. You may be one of the best product storytellers in the company, because you know the product, and you know the buyer, and you have the skills to kind of do it and perform.

You can be the best storyteller, and in this example I picked Tom Cruise, obviously an amazing performer. When he is in the movie, that movie sells.

But I would argue that you can make a transition and keep being the best storyteller. You don't need to give that up, you can keep doing that. But you can also become the best director in the company and help architect product stories and empower others to become storytellers as well.

You can use your storyteller skills here to be that architect, that producer, that director.

Why is that great? Well, because first you can leverage way more storytellers than just your team. If you're an SE, then you might have, you know, 20 overseas. But how many AEs do you have, how many SDRs, BDRs, product managers, product marketing managers, CSMs, C suite? If your CEO goes out and tells a product story, it better be damn good.

Usually he's trying to raise millions of dollars or is in front of the TV, or in an event, how can you make these people look really, really good all the time? That's kind of your job as a director as well, besides being the storyteller.

Besides that, the right story at the right time need to make sense. And so, if you can empower those people to tell the right story, is it a high level demo? Is it a deep demo? Is it for this persona, that persona? Now for this kind of segment, that segment?

Everything needs to be timed correctly and planned, and that's kind of the work of the architect to make sure that happens.

You can also play that role of bringing the buyer perspective into every conversation. We talked before about protecting their time. A lot of times organizations get so convoluted about how they run business, who they hire, who's managing what and which team is where, versus taking a step back.

Say, how does it feel to be a buyer of this thing? Are we managing them right? Are all the context points synchronized that nobody wants to do but a lot of time? It gets forgotten. Nobody wants to be evil and make the buyers switch right? Nobody woke up and said, I'm gonna make my buyer's life hard today.

Nobody said that, but it happens because of convolution, and because many organizations need to talk together, and there's no one consistent storytelling headquarters to actually be able to control how the story is unfolding for everyone in the process.

Then the last piece is all about tracking the right metrics. How do you measure if what you are showcasing is good? This stuff needs to be done, and you can take it to the next level and A/B test different stories or different pieces of the product that came out. It's a very dynamic thing. The market changes. Your company changes. Competitors change, so the story always needs to be updated, measured, and adapted, based on what's going on.

Okay, so once we have this perspective, let's talk about the Demo Maturity Model itself and kind of explore the theory behind it.

What is the Demo Maturity Model?

Okay. So we have a graph here. It is only one graph, don't worry, but this kind of summarizes it all. On the Y-axis, we have the buyer time commitment. How deep, or how much are you asking from the buyer? There's 3 steps. There's immediate access, there's light time commitments, which is maybe a few questions of a short form, and then you can go up to heavy commitment, which you're asking a lot of questions, going deep and that's also fine to have.

On the X-axis we have, what kind of demo are you delivering?

We have here a few steps from a generic demo on the left here, which means ACME, just like the main thing. And then we have, you know, the most mirrored demo that you can give, which is essentially the challenge and the use case of the buyer reflected within your product.

And you can see the demo efficiency frontier. What kind of time commitment are you asking? And then what kind of tailored demo are you delivering?

The slope of this graph is how efficient you are in transforming your discovery into product showcasing. So the steeper the curve, obviously the better.

What can you learn before? How much can you know the buyer, even before talking and have a very steep slope, and still show them a personalized demo based on everything you discover about them before they even say a single word?

Ideally, you're asking very little from the buyer, and you're showing them a lot. And then, even if you're starting to ask more and more from your buyer, the payoff for them is immense, because you can actually reflect in your product what their challenge is, and bring them home, and they can see the exact same image that they want to see. No more “Imagine if…” Don't make them shoulder the cognitive load of understanding how the product will work. That's your job as a seller, and when I say seller, I'm talking about every product storyteller here - product marketing, sales, SDRs, AEs, everyone.

It's your job eventually to shoulder that cognitive load of how what it would feel like to be in your product having used it for a year? And what can I celebrate? The more you can do this with little questioning with them, the more they'll be impressed..

If you go back to that initial response we had, we saw it very black and white. You either show a demo right away, or you ask them a lot of questions and show them a demo later. What I'm arguing is that you can show someone that wants immediate access a very generic demo, maybe.

Or maybe even one or two notches up, but someone you actually have an engagement with, make it pay off for them for every single question. You have customize a lot in the demo.

Let's bring this down to earth and see how that will work.

Let's say my buyer is Jeanne DeWitt and she's a Global Head of Partnerships at Stripe.

Let's say she wants to see a demo.

Now my discovery is separated into two pieces. One is before I even talk to her, I can see she's managing strategic partnerships at Stripe. Don't need to be a genius to know that. I could see one glance, so I already know quite a bit about her. Obviously you can get even deeper than that.

And then, during my discovery I asked her one or two questions, and then I also discovered she has issues with partners, let's say, especially in Germany in this case. So this is “know thy buyer.”

I can actually enrich my knowledge about my buyer a lot before I even open my mouth to work with them.

Secondly, I need to know thy product. In this case I am selling RevPower, a CRM, and we have a partner management module.

Let's try to bring this home, and see how my demo would look across my conversations with Jeanne, depending on my discovery.

How Personalized the Micro Demo Should be

The starting point is my generic demo. I haven't discovered anything yet, and the demo I'm showing isn’t customized right? So we have ACME and Jane Doe. Well, I would argue that you don't need to even show ACME, even when you don't know anything about her right? Because you can immediately go to this second level. You never have to use a generic demo ever again. There's just no excuse for that. You can immediately at least make her feel home right. This is very easy to change, but immediately I put in Stripe and I put in her name and it's personalized. At least she knows that the demo I'm pulling up is about her, and that is without doing any magic or any crazy discovery at all.

This is level two, the personalized and branded demo.

Now I would argue that you can even do level 3 again. You can even put that on the website right? So even without any discovery, and especially if you're going to show it to her and have a discovery with her, make sure you have the demo at least showcasing the industry and company size, right? So the pipeline volume should make sense for a company like Stripe. And the open opportunities should also make sense with quarters versus months. It's probably how they look at this, because that's how enterprise companies look at a partner management dashboard.

You can put this stuff in and immediately that makes more sense. Imagine you had five opportunities here and she sees like, oh, five partners. That's not my use case, it feels so detached. And she might ask, can this handle my size? Just having the right number of opportunities here that would make sense is such an easy change that immediately brings us to level three of the Demo Maturity Model. And again, this is without talking to her, just my basic view of who she is. This is already a much more tailored demo.

Personalizing the Demo by Persona

Now, if I want to take you to the level above let's put in her persona. So of course, now I know she is in partnerships. So I want to focus on the partners. I want to change the word partner here. I want to speak to partner opportunities versus any generic thing I might have had there.

Again, you can do it before even talking to her, and that's where you make the buyer feel very welcome, and where you get that steepness of the curve, because you customize so much, and you reflect back in product before she says anything.

Customizing the 2nd Product Demo

Then the last piece… Well, that probably needs a conversation on discovering that Germany is an issue. But hey, how cool would it be if while talking to her I can already have Germany on there? The map pulled up, the tables talking about it, or maybe it's a second demo. I can do it on the fly. But you know, when I discovered that depth, then I can actually reflect that in the product so much better. And now, when she comes into this demo, as as a seller, I know my buyer, and I know my product.

There's no excuse for not merging the two together. If you're doing discovery, and you ask about Germany, and you’re not reflecting it back within your own product, you're not doing your job.

Reflecting it in product is the ultimate way to show that you understand your buyer.

The Future of Product Demos

In the future I also believe that a demo would be way more than that. It would be a blueprint of what you and the buyer and agree on what they're trying to achieve with your product. So the demo would be the another asset next to a contract that shows like, what are we trying to do together? What are we trying to achieve together, and a demo is the blueprint.

So the key takeaways…, you need to reflect the buyer in your product story, and the best way to do that is to reflect them in the product. So protect your buyer’s time.

It's holy, and the more you think about it that way, the more buyers will want and love to engage with you and see value in engaging with you. Even if they don't buy the first time, they will get value because you're talking about them. They see that you care. They see that you're not running a process, but you're actually trying to serve their needs.

When you do discovery, it should be always reciprocal, meaning you discover about them, and you reflect it back in your product. It can’t be a one way street, or you feel like you're being interrogated. You can't just ask a million questions and then send someone to the next step. It has to be reciprocal. That’s when it becomes a conversation. It's way more pleasant. Humans love conversations. They hate interrogation. The difference between the interrogation and the conversation is reciprocity.

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