10 Microsoft CRM Demoing Tips

Beyond the basics here are my top 10 tips for preparing a quality Microsoft CRM demo and avoiding disaster…

1. Write a script – Not only does this give you something to follow on the day but putting it down on paper will help reveal any flaws in your plan.  And this will make it easier to repeat a demo when you get asked to redo to another audience some time down the track.  My advice; write the script before you do any demo configuration.  I think it is a common mistake to get stuck in and configure away, build out different screens and then find yourself scratching your head as to how to string them together in the demo.  Much better to figure out the story you want to tell first.

2. Design a logical demonstration flow – A ‘day in the life’ of the primary user persona usually works well.  Think about how the user would start their day and what other applications they would use in conjunction with CRM and don’t be afraid to talk to those systems during your demo – CRM won’t be going in and be used in isolation.  Develop a demonstration scenario with continuity – e.g. a new Lead is identified in the morning, you meet with them after lunch you follow up at the end of the day and push through a referral to another department.

3. Document the steps required to ‘reset’ your demo – My pet hate is seeing a demo being executed where you can see ugly evidence of previous executions – either records visible on screen identical to what the demo’er is about to demo, or fields already updated that the demo’er has to clumsily reset on the fly.  After you practice your demo make sure you undo the inserts and updates you executed so that the demo runs clean next time.  My advice, as you write your script also write your reset instructions, then as you practice your demo and refine your script add any missed reset steps to these instructions.

4. Support your demo scenarios with a Process Diagram or Scenario Description – Explain what you are going to show with some slides before you demo, then also use this content to recap afterwards.  This is a proven learning approach that is equally effective in demos and training sessions. It also gives your audience content and the bigger picture before you start showing them the new system.

5. Switching applications and laptops during the demo should be avoided like Matt Damon – Consolidate your content to one laptop per projector, put all your slides into one deck.  Mucking around with cables or slide decks hurts the flow and bores the audience. 

6. Use two projectors if you can, but only when you control the environment – Projecting slides to one screen whilst your demo runs on another can be very effective.  Another useful approach is to have different user personas projected on different screens – this is especially useful when there are interactions triggered between the personas.  But don’t fall into the trap of preparing a double projector demo at a customer site where the room logistics are not certain.  Another pet hate of mine: seeing a double projector demo where it turns out one projector has to be aimed against a side or poorly coloured wall.  Just don’t do it!  If you can’t be sure of two decent projection screens don’t plan a double projector demo.

7. Be careful with internet connectivity requirements – CRM Online 30 day trials are useful for building out demos, especially when you need a team collaborating on the build, but demoing from CRM online requires a decent internet connection.  Yes, we live in a world of 3G dongles and iPhone tethering and some customers will let you connect via their LAN/WAN but rely on these at your peril.  My advice, go VM.  Develop in CRM Online if you need to but deploy to a VM for the demo.  Slow demos are sucky demos.

8. Have backups and contingency plans – Here’s what I do: I regularly take SQL backups and/or export my CRM Solution as I develop my demo and make sure these backups are located in difference places (email, Dropbox and Google Drive are all handy here).  When my demo is ready I deploy to a second VM and have that VM on standby.  VMs can die, they seem to be getting better but they have had a history of being a little fragile.  It is prudent to expect your VM to die any second.  And lastly, I screenshot my demo end-to-end and save this to PowerPoint.  This contingency plan also doubles as a useful resource for you to share with your prospect so they can review details at a later date or distribute to others that couldn’t make the live demo.

9. Ensure your demo can be saved for later re-use – I’ve touched on this above but I think this is key.  Either you might hit a similar scenario with a different customer in the future or the same customer may require a repeat  performance of the demo.  Some sales cycles can run a number of months so this request may come in much later.  Having a re-usable script helps the old memory and building on a VM means you won’t lose the demo when your CRM Online trial expires.  Even if you do demo on CRM Online, consider not only saving the CRM Solution for later use but also export all of your sample data to excel.  Preparing sample data can actually take longer than building the configuration – don’t lose your demo data!

10. Invest in your demo data – Create industry relevant data and lots of it.  Populate your fields, ensure your CRM views look complete and rich.  Everything looks better with more data: reports, views, dashboards, etc.  You can cheat though – create 5-10 full records in CRM and then export to Excel.  Copy and paste in Excel and turn that into 200 records.  You can duplicate a lot of the data and get away with it.  Look out for duplicate email addresses though, that will stuff you up when showcasing email templates or email matching in Outlook.

There you go, lessons from the field.  If you have some Demo experiences to share please post a comment.



(thanks to Mrs G for proofreading)


6 thoughts on “10 Microsoft CRM Demoing Tips

  1. Pingback: Did You Know, Dynamics CRM & xRM #16 « North52

  2. Manuel Altermatt

    Gareth, great post. Here are some thoghts based on my own past experience:

    – Of the various ways that I have started my demos, the one that has given me best results, is “First thing in the morning, I open my Outlook and check my mail”. 🙂 Obviously this only applies to Outlook users, but you can’t go wrong by opening Outlook, getting an incoming (demo) email, and start tracking that in CRM. You can then take it from there to any sales, marketing, services or even XRM Scenario.
    – Have Fun. I have found that nothing catches more the audience’s attention, than a passionate and/or fun presenter. As much as I love Dynamics CRM, but presenting software always runs the risk of being perceived as “click here, click there” for non-software users. So you need to think about these people as well when you prepare your show. For instance: having industry and relevant demo data is certainly a must, but you can always spice things up by including some refreshing bits. I once presented a scenario where Brad Pitt asked for a quotation and we then moved on to find out more about him through social CRM. The audience loved it. Or think of Reuben Krippner. No demo without some random fact of Manchester United. 🙂
    – You probably have heard of DemoMate. It’s not only a great backup plan, but I sometimes also use it to “record” my demo through screenshots and then share it with my clients. It’s a very simple, almost automated way to provide your customers with a visual souvenir of your demo.

    Love your post, thanks a lot.

  3. Pingback: 10 Microsoft CRM demo tips - Microsoft Dynamics CRM Norge - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

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