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4 min read

Executing Software Demonstration

Executing Software Demonstration


There is a bridge in front of you. The bridge leads to as yet unknown destination on the other side. Which kind of person are you? Will you be the first onto the bridge, trusting in its stability and eager to find out what is on the other side? Or are you more cautious, wanting to thoroughly understand both the destination and the journey before taking that first step?


When we demonstrate software, we need to understand both the perspective and the spectrum of those potential sojourners. For, in fact, we are asking them to cross a bridge with us, leading from their current systems and state to a new situation – one with which they have little experience and less faith. Bridge Demonstrating is both the concept and the method by which we persuade all necessary parties to go with us from the current state to the desired future state. Coincidently, is also the method by which we secure the sale and the successful implementation of our software.

The Sojourners

Bridge demonstrating starts with an understanding of the people that we want to lead across our bridge. The most important word here is “perspective”. We need to step away from our perspective of the bridge and destination, and understand theirs.



Our Perspective

Their Perspective

Current Position

Little Knowledge

Low Faith


High Faith

Desired Position

High Confidence

High Faith

Low Understanding

Very Low Faith


Very High Knowledge

Assumed Faith

No Understanding



In looking at the table, it become obvious that selling software from our perspective is of little value in helping our prospect cross the bridge that we want them to cross. We’re starting from a position of strength and confidence, completely assured that the both the crossing and the destination will prove fruitful. This is natural: If we didn’t believe we wouldn’t be very effective at our job. But the starting point for the prospect is exactly the opposite: They are, by a large, starting from a position of weakness, with little understanding and very little confidence. That’s no way to start any trip.

This generalization of all participants is a little too broad, but it is helpful to force a change in perspective. There must be someone among the participants that has faith and a desire for change. Otherwise, why would the organization be looking for new systems at all? It is true that not all participants in the buying process fit the exact definitions above. While it varies by individual, and it is our desire to get every individual across the bridge, there are some ways of categorizing our sojourners and predicting their likely reactions to our proposed journey.


Their Priorities

Their Bridge Attitude


The destination, not the journey

Gains to be realized

“Let’s get moving, I’ll lead the way”


Information to be gained

Risk to be minimized

“Prove it and I’ll help you get the others across”


Minimize change and learning

Make the job easier

“I’ll cross only when safe and only with assistance”


As you might suspect based on the different characteristics, the same message and method will not work to convince all of our potential travelers of a safe journey and a happy destination. You will need to craft and execute a different strategy for each category of person. And, of course, account for the occasional straggler that doesn’t fit into our mold.

To re-emphasize the importance of perspective, remember that your strategy for each category of traveler must take into account their concerns, priorities, and motives. This implies, of course, that you must understand these and account for them in your demonstration activities.

The Current Location

Most sales teams concentrate on the advantages of what they offer, not an understanding of the prospect’s current environment. That’s a shame, as you can’t build a bridge from just one side of the divide. Watch how bridges are built and you will a process that works from both directions towards a common mid-point. For our sales process, the side representing the current situation is often the best starting point.

What You Learn

How it Helps You

The Bridge

Current Capabilities and Understanding

Sets the starting point for all discussions during the demonstration. Any efforts to advance the prospect’s understanding should start from this point.

Defines the beginning of the journey

What is liked about the current situation and systems

Creates a set of requirements that you must account for publicly in the demo to prevent fear of change. The most immediate fear of change is fear of loss of current capabilities.

Makes the path familiar and comfortable

What is disliked about the current situation and systems

Creates points of alignment that will be used to create the stories and scenarios that will have the most impact in your demo. Moves people across the bridge.

Motivates people to make the journey

The impacts – negative and positive – of the current system.

Understanding impact helps you craft the operational and value benefits that convince someone that crossing the bridge is a worthy endeavor.

Reinforces the impact of the final destination


The Destination

We see the destination from our point of view. A view that includes the experience of other customers in addition to our personal knowledge of the superiority of our products. Most presenters work from this view. But the prospect sees only one side of a rather hazy destination in the distance, with none of the detail and perspective that we have. We can add detail and perspective by doing the following:

Your Goal

The Technique

The Bridge

Position your destination as a good fit, comfortable for the prospect.

Use terminology, data, and scenarios that are already familiar to the prospect. Stay away from your own terminology, acronyms, and even product names – substitute those of the prospect.

Starts positioning the destination as somewhere known and trustworthy.

Make sure that getting to the destination is a path, not a blind leap.

Use a “today and tomorrow” technique to show that capabilities and comfort are not lost, but rather enhanced over time and as needed by the business.

Positions the destination as additive to current, not alternative to current.

Paint the destination as delivering great and measurable advantages to alternatives, including standing still.

Build a solid base of operational and value benefits to be realized by completing the journey, using the prospect’s own measures, bolstered with additional customer references.

Helps to convince doubters that the journey is worth the effort.

Align the destination with the organization’s values and goals.

Understanding impact helps you craft the operational and value benefits that convince someone that crossing the bridge is a worthy endeavor.

Reinforces the impact of the final destination



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