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How to Do a Great Demo #2 — Ask for Something

This is a guest post from John Fishback of 154 Consulting — the firm that helps us coach the innovative fintech companies selected for Finovate on their demos.

brightscope.png Finovate’s
unique format is exhilarating for attendees, but it puts real pressure
on demoing companies to leave the audience with something to remember
and act on. The demo from BrightScope at Finovate 2009 in New York (video) is an excellent example of a demo, and especially a conclusion, built to drive the audience to act.

Alford, BrightScope’s President and head of product development, speaks
to three audiences with his demo: individuals relying on their 401(k)
for retirement planning, plan sponsors, and advisors. For each, he
offers something that makes BrightScope compelling. More importantly,
he asks each group to take action at the end of the demo.
spends most of his time speaking to plan participants, and shows how
BrightScope helps them understand how their 401(k) plan stacks up. In
this first section, Ryan highlights a feature that helps participants
and BrightScope work together to their mutual advantage: requesting a
rating for your plan. This is a savvy choice. By spending time on this
feature, he turns participant’s mental dialogue from “I should check
this out if my plan is covered” to “I should check this out no matter
other two audiences, plan sponsors and advisors, get less time on their
value drivers. But Ryan effectively illustrates their needs and shows
how BrightScope meets them. For plan sponsors, the honest desire to do
right by participants is supported by BrightScope’s dashboard, which
shows what drove plan ratings. For advisors, their hope to generate
business in advising poorly performing plans is clearly supported by
BrightScope’s advisor tools.
this point, Ryan has done a good demo. He has a unique product and
he’s letting it speak for itself. But his conclusion is head and
shoulders above most. He asks each of his audiences to complete a specific task, saying:

“If you are a participant, you should get your plan rated. 

you are a plan sponsor, you should request a free demo of the dashboard
to see if this tool will help you understand and improve your plan. 

If you are an advisor, please contact us to learn about how you can gain access to our advisor tools.”
my line of work, we call these “calls to action” or “asks.” They’re the
actions you want your audience to take, and it’s always important to
make them very clear. 
even more important at Finovate. Finovate’s format of seven-minute
demos with a minute-long break between each provides a lot of
excitement, but it also gives the audience an immense amount to think
about. After each demo ends, there are only about twenty seconds to
really think about the demo before Finovate’s master of ceremonies,
Eric Mattson, thanks the presenter and begins introducing the next
company. Those seconds are when the audience decides what to do.
the Finovate 2009 event in New York, a third of presenting companies
left the stage with no call to action. They simply summarized their
main points or key messages and thanked the audience. Just over a
quarter did better, finishing their demo by asking for a specific
action that could take place anywhere.  
rest? Forty percent of presenting companies ended their demo with some
version of “come see us at our booth.” That’s not a bad ask,
particularly because Finovate explicitly builds in networking sessions
between demos. 
after too many demos end with “see us at our booth,” the audience
starts to tune the phrase out. Several people tweeting on the
Finovate 2009 demos on Twitter remarked about the constant refrain of “come to our booth,” and lamented that they didn’t know why they should.
So how should a demo end if the next step you’d like the audience to take is actually to come visit your booth? Use the moment to start the conversation you’d like to have one on one. Rather than a generic invitation to visit the booth, invite the
audience to see some specific aspect of the product you haven’t had a
chance to show. Or focus on a possible objection (e.g. “If you’re
interested in seeing how we integrate quickly and easily with 95% of
all core processing systems, we’ll be walking through that at our
matter what you specifically close with, use the last moment you have
everyone’s attention as BrightScope did – by asking the audience to
take the next step.


This is a guest post from John Fishback. John is the principal of 154 Consulting and directs 154’s Financial Services Product Group, which combines message development and presentation advice services with financial services industry experience to help financial services companies, startups, and vendors develop and market products that speak clearly to customers’ needs. He can be reached at