TFF #005 - How to Not be Fooled By Slick Software Demos

TFF #005 - How to Not be Fooled By Slick Software Demos

Read time: 4 mins


Welcome to another edition of the Tech for Finance newsletter where we’re looking at how to NOT be fooled by slick software demos.

I’ve given hundreds of software demos, and in my early days was guilty of a bit of ‘smoke and mirrors’ which I want you to be able to spot.

It’s likely you’ll see at least 1 or 2 software demos this year, so here’s some insider knowledge on what to look out for, split into 4 types of presenter.

1/ The Yes Man 💯

We’ve all met them. The enthusiastic salesperson. Keen to impress and find it difficult to say no.

When you’re asking questions during the demonstration, if every time they’re met with a ‘yes’. This should ring alarm bells.

What does good look like instead?

  • No, it doesn’t do that, but a workaround could be ‘xyz’
  • I don’t know, is it OK if I check with the technical team and come back to you?

2/ The Slide Decker 📊

We’re seeing this less and less now, but sometimes you’ll have someone organise a ‘demo’, and instead of showing live software, they’ll show a slide deck instead.


You should always be looking for a live demo.

What does good look like instead?

  • Let me e-mail you some screenshots of the platform, and then let’s find a time for a live demo with one of my consultants.

3/ The ‘Here’s One I Made Earlier’ 🪄

To save time, sales demos are generally pre-populated with dummy data. This means that more often than not, you’re seeing data that isn’t relevant to your company or industry.

For short initial demos this can be fine as it can take hours to populate a system with custom data, so long as you’re not just being whizzed through a load of pre-populated screens.

You should also be able to ask who’s leading the demo to create a new record from scratch.

“Can you quickly show me how to create a supplier?” “Can you quickly show me how to enter a transaction?” “Can you quickly show me how to” etc etc.

If they’re not able to show this easily, it should ring alarm bells. Especially if you’re met with the response “We don’t have enough time”.

What does good look like instead?

  • I’ve not completely changed the demo data, but I’ve uploaded your company logo and changed some of the items and names to make it a bit more familiar for you.
  • “Can you quickly show us how to do this?” Sure - [Shows process]

4/ The Speed Demon 😈

Talking at a million miles an hour, and racing through 20 screens in the space of 10 minutes doesn’t help anyone.

If you’ve found someone who’s taking this approach, it either means they’re nervous or inexperienced and just want to get things over and done with, or there’s something they don’t want you to ask questions about.

When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down.

You need to be able to absorb what you’re seeing at a reasonable pace.

Most demos should last at least an hour, if it’s any less than that you should be asking why.

What does good look like instead?

  • Before we move on to the next screen, does that look OK for you?
  • From what I’ve shown there, can you see yourself using this. Is it an improvement on what you’re doing already?


1/ Be wary of yes men, instead look for transparency

2/ If it’s not ‘live’ it’s not a demo

3/ Be sceptical of completely generic demo data and people that can’t show you a process from scratch.

4/ A slower pace with the opportunity to ask questions is better. It’s not a race

That’s it for this week.

Liked this? 👍 Hit reply and give me your feedback.

Speak soon.



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©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use

©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use