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Hi John,

What is the best way to present to a mixed business and
technical audience?

For example:

A CTO and other IT staff, as well as a Marketing and Help
Desk executive. Plus I have only 20 minutes to give mostly
a live demo, plus maybe one or two PowerPoint
slides. We are not sure who is going to be the person
signing off on the license purchase and also not sure who
my sponsor is at this point. Basically the salesperson is just
happy and grateful that we have been granted 20 minutes
with the customer.

Thanks,
Ray - New York, NY
Hello Ray,

Thanks for the question. My very short, non-politically
correct, answer would be that I would yell and scream very
loudly at the idiot salesperson or partner who put me in this
position to start with.. however - that's not necessarily
reality!

My second approach would be to ask the rep for the name
of a technical contact at the account. If the rep objects say
that you need to confirm or validate internet/wireless
access and any firewall issues so that you can give a
straightforward demo. One you have reached the technical
contact and have made sure that you do have access
(sometimes you may be in a weak or zero signal area or
even a high security zone) take a few minutes to ask him/her
a couple of questions about their expectations and current
issues. It’s a sneaky back-door form of mini-Discovery.

If all else fails then you are setting up in the room prior to a
demonstration with absolutely no clue as to problems,
issues and potential “solutions” that you may have to offer.
There are a couple of approaches here:

1.        Instead of running through your stuff and hoping you
hit something that they customer needs or wants (which is
guesswork) start off with a “pain sheet”. This is typically a
PPT slide that has a list of questions that you can answer for
the customers – like “ever wondered how many of your
laptops still have IE7 on them?” that might be causing them
some grief. Ask the customer if any of the issues are ones
that they are facing in the organization. Wait until they give
you a list of two or three rather than jumping on the first one.

2.        If nothing spiked their curiosity then you may be in
the wrong sales call with the wrong people. It’s time for the
rep to ask some variety of “so what caused you to accept
this meeting with us?” or “what do you know about us?”

3.        If all else fails look for similar clients you may have in
the same business vertical, same size or geography and
base your demo on what they wanted to see.

4.        As far as the mixed audience you basically have to
perform some triage here.  In general the IT staff are the
least important people in the room and you’ll need to defer
any questions form them until later, and have the rep keep
both a technical and a business parking lot for questions.

5.        You may even want to pre-empt their questions up
front and provide them with a collection of reference
material and promise to follow-up later. “I
t’s impossible to
cover everything in 20 minutes, so we can set a follow-up
meeting for technical specs at a later date
”.

6.        Your job is really just to stimulate enough curiosity
from the CTO and Marketing/Help Desk execs that they will
invite you back to see more. That invitation is the key to
then conducting Discovery and determining the purchasing
process, compelling events, setting up coaches and all the
other classic sales behaviors that (still) should have been
conducted before the meeting.

Good luck! You might also want to track the success rate for
deals that start with this random 20 minute meeting
compared to those that follow a more classic approach. I’m
prepared to bet there will be a 20-30% closure rate edge for
classic versus random.