Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Why software vendors all want to be last to demo. A sales executive from one mid-market software vendor recently told us of a study that they did internally to see if there was a correlation between competitive wins and their position in the demo schedule. It was not clear how many deals they looked at. Nevertheless, they found that the vendor who was scheduled last to demo won the deal in 60% of the cases. Although we doubt most vendors have attempted to quantify this phenomena, most vendors recognize a subtle advantage in being last, because: 1) the prospect team learns more about their own needs through the demo process and is clearer in their requirements with the last vendor, 2) the prospect is tired out by the demo process and doesn't challenge the final vendor on many points, and 3) the last vendor gets to have "the last word" before the prospect makes a decision. Partly to avoid this "everyone wants to be last" problem, we recommend that companies buying software conduct demonstrations in two passes. Use the first pass to cover the entire set of key requirements with each vendor. Then make a second pass to cover any special issues with each vendor. If there is still a problem with both vendors wanting to be last, you then let one be last for the first pass and the other be last for the second pass.

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