The Professor Demo Identity

Professors know their space and their solution inside and out. They can “McGuyver” their software into doing things it wasn’t built to do. But all of that knowledge can be a curse during a presentation.

Biggest strengths of the Professor Demo Identity:

  • They are intelligent and know their solutions backward and forward
  • They have a great deal of credibility as they’ve spent time in the industry
  • They are trustworthy and don’t pressure clients, allowing them to become a “trusted partner”

Biggest risks for the Professor Demo Identity:

  • They have the “curse of knowledge” – they can give too many details and run a software training instead of a demo
  • They can come off as arrogant and alienate the audience
  • They don’t always listen to an entire question before answering what they *think* the question is
Spelling amirite?

What does a typical demo from a Professor look like?

  • Professors are intelligent and they know their solution inside and out. They tend to lean on knowledge and logic and are steadier than some of the other demo identities.
  • Professors are often brought in for later-stage demos or presentations, typically in the Subject Matter Expert (SME) roles. They are also helpful when the solution needs to be “hacked,” and can often create demos that others in the organization simply can’t.
  • Professors don’t always come up through technology companies – they often spend time in their industry, and then use the knowledge they’ve gained while selling. However, software trainers or Customer Success Managers (CSMs) often have the Professor identity.
  • Professors are viewed as “trusted advisors” to their clients, and often aren’t incentivized on each individual deal, so they tend to act less “salesey” in a meeting.
  • With some exceptions, Professors often aren’t the only person working on a deal – they likely partner with someone else in the sales organization who handles account management.

What are The Professor’s presentation blind spots?

  • Professors are so knowledgeable that it’s easy for them to forget that not everyone knows as much as they do. This can cause friction in a meeting as a Professor may become confused or annoyed with a customer if they don’t “get it.” They also get particularly frustrated with their teammates when the teammate is wrong, which can lead to internal friction.
  • Professors can sometimes come off as condescending or arrogant, even when unintentional. Especially when they use big words/buzzwords/acronyms and assume that everyone knows what they’re talking about.
  • Professors are often quick to come up with an answer, sometimes before the client is finished asking – which can lead them to answer the wrong question (and, inadvertently raise an objection that the customer hadn’t thought of.
  • Professors are the most likely to run a training when they should be running a demo, which can be informative, but often doesn’t help advance a deal.

What are The Professor’s most common demo fails?

Slow your roll; Narrating the demo; Leveraging buzzwords


How can Professors deliver better demos and presentations?

  • It all comes down to listening. Stop and listen to the client. Even if you think you know the answer, let them ask. Use probing questions to follow-up and gather more information.
  • If possible, conduct your own discovery at the beginning of any pitch, then adapt to the client. You know enough to be flexible and don’t have to deliver a “canned demo” each time.
  • Remember that you don’t have to agree the client, but you do need to validate their perspective. Then, probe to find out what the true objection is. Don’t guess. Let the audience tell you.

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