Demos, demos, demos…do they really help?

You’ve done some analysis of the interconnect voice OSS & BSS vendors and now you want to take the next step.

So, what do you do?

You call them up and ask to schedule a demo. But ask yourself this question, “Why do you want the demo?” What are you hoping to learn from an hour or 90 minute view of the vendor’s application?  Do you want to see what it can do? Do you want to validate that there is real software? Do you feel like you have to make sure the software works before you proceed in discussions? How can you proceed if you don’t make sure the software is real and works?

Demos have become part and parcel of the traditional software sales cycle. So many companies waste so much time in exploring demos. Does it really impact the buying decision, and for that matter, should it? Shouldn’t the decision criteria for whether to purchase an interconnect voice OSS & BSS platform be comprised of the following:

  1. Fit (addresses your critical needs)
  2. Demonstrated reliability and scale (this thing works and is proven)
  3. Reference customers that you know (big, small, same size)
  4. Affordable/Economically viable
  5. Positive ROI in the first 12 months

Not sure user experience is even in the top 10 of selection criteria, and in a demo, all you are getting is user experience. Not a read out on scale.  

Now, we understand that user experience can be a valuable indicator of how well the provider has thought through all of the variations and machinations that interconnect voice can present. But an even better proxy for that are reference customers. Reference customers are the best indicator of future performance because those reference customers will tell you straight up if they like the product or not.

So, really, why are you spending all this time on demos?  You might want to rethink your approach. Maybe that is an ineffective way to evaluate potential options. Sure, going to a car dealer and buying a car without checking that it starts and if the brakes work seems crazy, but is it? How many legitimate car dealerships are going to sell you a non-functioning car? In fact, there are lemon laws in every state to prevent that from happening.   

Instead of spending your time on demos, spend your time with reference customers and the companies. Learn all you can about the company, how their customers are using the tool, their customers’ experiences. Check the demo at the end as a kind of “validation”, but don’t put that in front of the process.