Hi John,

I work with five reps, who each have (of course) their own way or working with clients and with me. That’s OK and I love the variety and the challenge. Except for “Stephen”. Two or three times in the flow of a demo, Steve will interrupt and say Kevin – why don’t you show them <some random feature or functionality>?” It’s usually totally out of context, takes me out of the standard flow, and a few times has led me onto dangerous ground. We’ve had numerous conversations about his Jumping The Demo but to no avail as he keeps doing it because “it seemed the right thing to do”. How do I get him to stop?

Kevin, Frustrated in Sunnyvale


Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your question, and I’m sure many SE’s out there can already feel your pain.

As with any issue that’s a mix of process and interpersonal relationships, there are a few things to consider.

Right up front, is Steve correct? Take a dispassionate step back, look at his suggestions, and see if they make sense. Put your flow away, and look at it from his point of view, and then the customer’s viewpoint. If he’s “right” at least 25% of the time, it’s worth looking at his logic and why he makes the suggestions and you might want to incorporate some of the suggestions.

Analyze where and when he “Jumps The Demo” (that’s now JTD and a new phrase in SE terminology). Is there some consistency or pattern to his interruptions? Can you modify your demo or pre-handle some of his points? Yes, that is more avoidance than directly dealing with the issue, but it can work.

When he takes you onto dangerous ground, immediately debrief after the call when it is still fresh in both your minds. Putting a deal in peril is often a good incentive to change behaviours.

Use the customer to keep you on track. Try building a GPS Demo Road Map and distribute that to the customer and to Steve. The map can keep you on the straight and narrow, especially if it shows that you will get to Steve’s insightful point in a few minutes. 

Try “Reversing”. When you are being asked to talk about or show your technology and you’re not sure why – link back to a customer’s issue. You can respond with .. “Steve, more than happy to do that. First let me ask the customer (face the customer directly or address them if remote) “could you tell me a little more about the current issues you are having with …..?” or else “could you tell me a little more about how you’d like to do this next year?”.


Realistically – If none of this works it then becomes a question of do you want to escalate it to your boss and to Steve’s boss? If Steve is over 100% of quota it may not be a fight worth pursuing.

Good Luck!

Stay up-to-date with us by following us on Twitter. Always stay connected with us. We are helping to improve The profession of presales one little piece at a time.

Contact Us Today

We always love to hear from you. Fill out the form with any questions, comments, or concerns and we will be sure to get back to you.

9 + 3 =