Lost in Translation: Culture and Demos

Lost in Translation: Tips for Delivering a Culturally Appropriate Demo

Think you do not need tips for delivering a culturally specific demo? Think again. Culture and Demos are the lynchpins to getting your software solution sold with a demo. We have partnered with DEI expert Dr. Gilo Kwesi Logan to advise clients on areas of culture and information transmission, but we wanted to share some of the reasons that this is so critical from our perspective.

Demo Context: Literal Solutions

When you are delivering a demo out of context, you immediately are at a disadvantage. Many times we see demos delivered out of the appropriate context in a sales process, however delivering a demo out of cultural context presents a similar problem.

Presenting to an audience that is not prepared to receive your solutions is a waste of time. This occurrence comes down to information, or lack of, gathered during discovery. Your prospect may not actually have a need for the solution you are presenting, because of a workflow or implicit communication that takes place between teams that is unaccounted for in research you conduct.

How to measure readiness for a solution?

If you are unsure of the culture of your target, whether corporate, or other, ask more and more questions. Try not to assume anything or jump to any conclusions. Take what they say to you literally. If you can get your point of contact to walk you through a problem, that they know everyone is having, even better.

Deliver a demo that solves the issue that you were walked through and be very careful to stay on task. Offering more than they need could easily backfire and cost time and your deal, because it is out of context.

Org Mapping

Do your best to learn organizational hierarchies. This serves a number of purposes from making sure a decision maker is in the room, so your demo becomes a negotiation, to being able to speak to all needs of the leaders and implementers of your solution. Include as many points of view as possible when showing a solution. Add value through inclusion.

Another advantage to mapping a hierarchy, is understanding titles that might not resonate with terms you have heard of. In an effort to build a culture devoid of hierarchies, corporate culture building is a popular tactic, but hierarchies in revenue organizations always exist. It is your job during discovery to engage in a deep dive, rather than rely on titles.

Understanding Org Hierarchies?

Choose your closest ally in the org and include this line of questioning. Be transparent about it, and ask directly the hierarchy. You may not think you are learning about the culture, but you are, and using the hierarchy to deliver a better demo is essential to winning your deal.

Understanding Implicit Communication: Non Literal Solutions

Implicit Communication is the subtext for how all of an org gets things done. You might be familiar with their tech stack, but it doesn’t mean that all layers use it the same way. If you are trying to sell a SaaS solution and you miss critical subtext for how your solution would be applied or how the rest of an organization “really” uses software, your deal is as good as dead. Information mapping for context AND subtext is essential in preparing for your demo.

Further complicating demo prep, is the corporate and national culture clash in an organization. When you are dealing with a company that has recently acquired funding, your demo and your deal gets more complicated. If they have not normalized corporate processes to account for national culture differences, it can be your job to communicate this message to a body of disjointed leaders. There is a great article in Harvard Business Review on this here, but for our purposes we suggest the following.

  • Make a corporate glossary of terms used in an organization, and apply these in your presentation. Deliver your demo, in their corporate culture language. This builds a connection where it matters; businss.
  • Know the demographics of your audience: where possible do a cursory search of the members of the audience, not to connect so much, as to know where not to create a disconnect.
  • Do not defer to connection building: You may think you are building bridges, when you are burning them in a national cultural context. Unless you are an anthropologist, you run a big risk by trying to illicit an emotional connection.

The big takeaway from these tips is to ask as many questions as possible and to address the pain points in an organization with your software, in their language in your demo delivery. We hope this starts a conversation in your team around Culture and Demos. Looking to learn more about our DEI services? Take a look here, and contact our team if you are scaling up!

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