What is chair work and what do chair work and demo prep have in common? At first glance, they would not have much in common. Chair work is a technique used in Schema Therapy that helps someone address negative self talk and reframe experiences. When applied to demo prep, it is an exercise to help sales teams address potential objections raised during their SaaS demo. Here is how to use chair work in your demo prep. The goal of this exercise is to normalize objections and learn to address them confidently in the present, and get them out of your own head.
When we are thinking about an upcoming demo, we might have a number of misgivings. Here is what they might sound like, what if my competitors deliver a better demo, what if my solutions are something they already heard, what if our software is too expensive, what if no one wants to go through onboarding? These are objections you could hear. Prepping for them is what this is all about.
If you are prepping with a team, you can go one by one, or you can take turns in the chairs. You need two chairs per person.
Chair 1: Is the chair for the client or audience member that will be bringing up objections.
Chair 2: Is the chair for the measured responder and you
Sit in the chair as your potential audience member, skeptic, or superior, and express all objections. Do not be afraid to include negative comments that related to what could go wrong with the demo from a technical perspective as well. Be as natural as possible.
Move to the other chair and express the feelings and gut responses to the criticisms, objections, and perceived things that went wrong in the demo. If you are doing this in a group, make sure you have someone taking notes. Many times other elements come up that can be further prepared for (tech, discovery elements, etc)
Now, address each objection with the help of your team. Consider where your reactions were reactions, and where you might need to come up with creative solutions or answers to address objections. This portion of the exercise is where you will work together to find your demo strategy and make your demo better.
Chair Work and Demo Prep in Practice
This exercise helps teams come together and find the best strategy for a demo or presentation. If you can, have members of marketing present to see where you can edit content to address objections as well. If you are a sales leader, this exercise can start conversations between teams that benefit your entire sales process, without pointing blame at anyone. It creates empathy between content creators and presenters and fosters empathy on your team. Bonus.