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Cut It Out – Making Webinars and Demos Better

I’ve recently returned to knowledge management in a private firm, and had lost some touch with legal tech offerings. I dove back into the deep end of the pool, and have, over the last few months, watched many webinars and demos.

It may be some time before I subject myself to another one.

Vendors are Key Players in the Industry

I appreciate vendors tremendously. They – not the legal sector – are pushing the envelope on everything from core functionality to cloud computing to next-gen AI. Vendors are always willing to share thoughts and even data on the state of their particular universe of offerings, and have deep and broad networks they use to connect the rest of us. Their knowledge is a different angle into legal tech, and they’ve solved more problems than many of us have even encountered.

The Problems with Webinars and Demos

But wow – demos and webinars are becoming the bane of my existence, because I find most of the presentation fluff, filler. I often walk away wondering what exactly the solution was – there was just too much to take in.

Both demos and webinars are universally one hour – that’s a 60-minute commercial with a captive audience. And yet vendors blow this chance practically every time. Remember that if you’ve got lawyers in the audience, you’re literally costing them a billable hour to sit there. This is a huge ask, even if your product will eventually win them back that time many times over. Imagine how you might change your presentation if you had to pay a senior lawyer for that time.

Call to action for vendors:

  • Dare to get your webinars and demos down to 30 minutes.
  • Go ahead and pitch: you don’t need to pretend you’re only kindly offering your insights. That’s definitely a reason we attend webinars, but we all know why we’re here. Sell it at the top!
  • Include your product development plans. Let us know how you’re planning enhancements and addressing bugs.

Webinar and Demo Don’ts

Most of these have to do with ensuring the presentation gets to the point as soon as possible. I’m not asking you to leave what you consider key information out entirely, but consider your structure from the audience/purchaser’s perspective. Don’t:

  • Start out with a list of the giant firms that use the product – if we’re interested, trust me, we’ll ask. Law firms never do anything unless their competitors are on board.
  • Provide a history lesson on your company. This may or may not be of interest later, but for a demo or webinar, you’re wasting time.
  • Spend a lot of time on your (the presenter) own history – but tell us something in 30 seconds that proves you’re an SME.
  • Show us every option and add-on and piece of functionality. Please.
  • For the love of…don’t allow the presentation technology, on your end or ours, to delay things. Just no. Even if the problem is on our end, these snafus just waste time and it somehow reflects on your preparedness.
  • Do webinar polls. I get it. You want some interactivity. But I just feel like I’m giving away my firm’s secrets.

Do:

  • Describe your webinar accurately in advertising. We know they’re thinly-veiled product pitches, so just own up to it. We don’t need a dense paragraph on the evils of email overload. Just say in two sentences why your product is the best for email overload, and how the webinar will demonstrate that.
  • Send short videos and brochures before a demo– these can help get your audience up-to-speed.
  • Know who is at the table (both webinars and demos) and pitch your talk (more IT-friendly, more lawyers, etc.) accordingly.
  • Spend one minute on intros. Then dive in.
  • Understand that we’re usually only paying 30% of our attention to you in a webinar. Webinars play on one screen while we process email and documents on another. This is partly because we know you’re not going to hit the high points until well into the session. Consider how you might structure the presentation differently.
  • Do cut the presentation down to 30 minutes. How long does it really take to demo your tool’s top functions?
    • By the way, once I’ve gotten excited about a solution, I have to boil down your pitch/demo/webinar to a 60-second ask for funding and 30-second conversations with my lawyers.
  • Just how us the solution! Show three things in 15 minutes. Impress us and you’ll be given plenty of time later for all the bells and whistles.
  • Use case studies to promise big, showing how you’ve delivered.

Make it a game – if you pitch correctly, you should actually get questions you might otherwise have included in the presentation. Things are going really, really well if lawyers are trying to trip you up on your own product.

Comments

  1. One thing I love about free market capitalism is, generally, poor sales presentations are followed by poor revenue streams which are followed by salespeople being replaced and/or companies failing. There are some great tips in here, though, so hopefully we see more fruitful presentations/salespeople/companies/economies. :)

  2. Monica Sandler

    Brava! Well stated!! Now if only we could get EVERY sales person, rep and project manager attending #ILTACON17 to read it, we’d all be much happier professionals.

    Maybe Ken can make it mandatory for them to read and sign before they set up their booth? just a thought.

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