March 13, 2006

Where's the Product?

I attended a seminar at a Tier 1 technology company a few weeks ago. It was supposed to be the highlight of the week since the topic was one I wanted to learn about. It incorporates a complex combination of hardware and software.

As an added bonus the content was to be delivered by a top notch product specialist. This person is well known in the industry and engaged on projects across North America. You would think that all the elements for a great learning experience were present. Yet there was something missing...the product itself. The entire event attended mainly by a technical audience was run off of PowerPoint.

In my experience a techie audience is very different from the business one. In a seminar Techies prefer a depth and breadth of real information, insight and a selling. Business types want to understand the strategic values and return on investment. This seminar was full of techie types. The surprise was that when there ended up being no demo and or hardware in sight I was surprised that no one objected.

By the way I consider myself a business focused technology person...hence the name for this website. But I consider this seminar a missed opportunity for the Tier 1 company that held the event.

So what can you do to ensure your clients get a quality seminar? Here are some things that will make a difference:

  1. Always show your product or service. Even having unplugged gear or CD's on a table in the back of the room is way better than just PowerPoint presentations;
  2. Have a client deliver part of the content. Or even better - rent a bus and take your seminar attendees to client site to see your product/service/technology in live operation;
  3. Take advantage of breaks by having information, brochures or qualified people available to answer your client's questions;
  4. In a full day or half day morning seminar, schedule an optional lunch for a more in depth discussion or sales presentation for those attendees that need it.

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