Tips for enterprise software demos

When buying enterprise software it's tempting to buy based on a good demo, but that can lead to buyer's remorse.

It’s the nature of our work at Wayferry to see lots of software demos and this post shares a few thoughts to help you get the most out of them. First, remember that the aim of the software analysis is to make your software selection decision. The aim of the demo is to confirm that decision.

By the time an organization is ready for software demos the list of potential products has been narrowed down to around three. Presenters know this, and there is a lot of pressure on them to perform.

Be very wary of slick demos and showmanship. Glitz is fun, but six months after you have implemented that “dazzling” product you could be faced with software that has significant functional gaps. Be especially wary when a presenter insists on following their own demo script rather than yours. Of course, this assumes you have a script! If you don’t, you are not ready for a demo.

Keep the playing field level: some presenters are “naturals” but other presenters who are not as glitzy may have better products. Do not let the presenter's style get in the way of your decision.

Hold presenters accountable and don’t fall for deflections like “I’ll get to that later.” If the presenter says something like that ask them when they will get to it and note it down, and then ask it again during that part of the demo. If you are near the end of the demo and you have unanswered questions, ask them again. If a presenter keeps on deflecting questions assume the software has inadequate functionality in those areas.

Use a standard form to gather overall feedback from demo attendees. Ensure this feedback is gathered before people leave the room, or at least within 24 hours of the demo. Once another product has been demonstrated attendees can’t give reliable feedback on the previous product.