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5 things I do before a demo

(This post was originally published here)
The beautiful thing about starting a startup is you would love almost anything that you do – sales/marketing/programming/PR/blogging, the feeling of ownership is unmatched. Our product is in it’s stabilized version 1 form and I do a lot of marketing & sales these days – on an average about 1-2 demos/day.
Few things I learnt before demo-ing your product to a client. These are the things I do before I demo and has proved helpful -this is not to be treated like a TODO list,etc. – after all every startupper has his own way of getting a customer.

    • Research
      With the advent of so many social networks, it’s possible to get almost any activity/data of an organization/person. Three things I research on
      | The company – read about it’s history, interesting trivia, past techcrunch articles, etc. This gives an idea of what the company is about and goes a long way in understanding their needs and making appropriate customizations to your demo
      | Founders – Most likely, it’s going to be an interesting/inspiring story on how they started. If you get an opportunity to meet the founders, nothing like it and it’s extremely obvious that you need to do your homework about them, else it serves as a good read 🙂
      | Person you are going to meet – Not always would you get a chance to meet the founders, it’s good to know the background, past work experience of the person you meet – Linkedin, twitter, his blogs importantly would help a lot in understanding him.
    • Getting ready
      Never waste a single second in the meeting” – this has always been my thought before a demo. You hardly get 15-20 minutes with a senior person, try to make the maximum use of it. Before I demo my product,
      | Hibernate mode – Booting your laptop before the demo is such a waste of time, you are losing 20s if you are using Ubuntu and anywhere between 2000-3000s if you are running Windows. There shouldn’t be an idle time, put it in hibernate mode when you start.
      | Keep your browser/app ready – I have a separate firefox profile for each demo containing 3 tabs – the product, the report & a view of codechecker. Remember you only have 15 minutes and need to explain the pain point and demo the product. This quickens the process if you are already ready.
      | Customization – People love it when you make your product/service customized to them. Before each demo, I look at the careers page, check the openings and prepare the questions of the test accordingly.
      Why it helps? – the company can start using my product for that role instantly. Only rarely is anyone going to pay at the first attempt, first make him use the product and get him hooked to it.
    • Punctuality (Too early is bad)
      Being punctual is good, but being too early might go against you. When you are going to meet the decision maker, his calendar is going to be full! He/She would have given you a 30 minute slot in the middle of other meetings.
      Even if I am a little early (say 20 minutes prior), I tell the receptionist to inform the guy only 5 minutes before the scheduled meeting time –
      Reason? 90% of the time, he/she is going to ask you to wait in the lounge till it’s time, but sometimes your presence acts as an interruption to their current meeting/work.
      If this happens, they would like to finish off your meeting quickly and get back to their work – you can be rest assured that he/she isn’t going to listen to your pitch/demo, but just wants to oblige the meeting request. This happened to me once and yes the chances of him getting converted to a customer became slim.
    • Have a goal – shouldn’t be a coffee meeting
      It helps to have some kind of a goal/outcome of the demo – maybe the company should use the product for free, run a pilot program with them for a month, etc. This helps your demo to move in the right way and proceed towards something concrete instead of just getting to know him/her.
    • Being fresh
      This might be clichéd, dressed neat, pressed formals, appear fresh, etc. But as startups, we really can’t afford the luxury of an A/C car daily – even if it’s 30 KM from my place, I still travel by bus, standing in the middle of 50 people. It makes you a little tired and weary before you demo which is obviously a bad sign.
      To avoid this and be economical, I travel by bus, get down a couple of stops before the destination and take an auto for 20 bucks. The 10-15 minute drive in auto with a quick deo spray makes you look much better than traveling by bus fully – economical and best.

All the above are small (maybe obvious) stuff but happens in the 1st 5 minutes of the demo which is a very important phase! A lot of my posts mostly originate from conversations, learnings, experiences – I am no expert, but the reason I blog is, if the points make sense it would accelerate the growth of a startup by a good amount which is critical.You have zero money, little resources, no time but still need to beat the biggies – acceleration is key.

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