NAV Presales – The Rules of Engagement

I’ve been around NAV for a few years and I’ve been involved on the presales side of things too.  The following is a list of some of the things I deem most important when doing Presales Demonstrations for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.  You may have a different set of rules but these are just what I have highlighted from my experience.  In no particular order they are:

Be Enthusiastic
There is nothing worse than getting a demonstration for a product that someone is not passionate about.  If you are going to sell something then you had best LOVE what you do and believe in the product you are selling.  Remember, you will not be the first salesperson that the customers have seen so you better stand out from the crowd.

Stand out from the Crowd
This goes hand in hand with being passionate about your product.  It is important to ensure that you stand out among all the other products and partners that are vying for that coveted sale.  Whether you stand out due to your product knowledge or an opening anecdote that everyone can relate to and remembers, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are memorable!

Death by PowerPoint is an absolute NO!!
If you have ever had the misfortune of sitting through any presentation that is 90% slideshow and talking, you will know just how quickly people can zone out and start thinking about their kids, cats or e-mails.  I am personally very wary of using too much PowerPoint in demonstrations and feel it is better to show an outline agenda and have the slides in a format that you can leave with the customer and crack on with the stuff they are really there to see – hands on product related information.  Remember, you want them to remember you and your product, not you and your slides.

Have an agenda
Remember that your audience has a particular set of points they will want to tick off on a list.  Most customers will be comparing your product so ensure that you position the agenda upfront.  Go through the points you will be covering and check if there is anything they wish to add or remove in the agenda.  There is always the possibility that something could have popped up between prequalifying questions and the actual day of the demo.  Even if you don’t strictly follow your agenda, it is important to set the scene for what you will be showing.

Be flexible
With the best will in the world, it is not always possible to get any audience to save questions until the end and I personally prefer an open policy to questions during a demonstration.  This does mean that sometimes you will be pulled in a different direction to what you originally had on your agenda.  There will always be the “light bulb” moment where your audience will want to know “Can it do this?” and “What about that?”  Ensure you are flexible enough to cover these points succinctly and still come back to your agenda.
Open questions also allow me to gauge the understanding of some concepts that I have explained (those amazing Dimensions that make NAV stand out from the crowd) as well as ensuring the audience participation so no one has the urge to catch up on their sleep during a demo.

Know your product
This may seem like a silly point to make here but it is an area where some demos fall down.  You cannot know just one aspect of NAV and expect to give a stellar presales performance.  Let’s suppose you head into a demo ready and prepped to give the best financial model demo of your life.  When you get there, the audience has changed and the Head of Manufacturing is sitting in on the meeting while the Financial Controller is nowhere to be seen.  Suddenly you have an audience that wants to know more about an area you have not prepared for.  You had better know your product well enough that you can also show him what he wants to see.

Position your product: NAV vs. Navision…
Today we registered the birth of our son.  When asked what my occupation is, I was surprised to find out that the registrar could not enter any initials or acronyms on the form and so I am listed as working in the Information Technology field instead of proudly flying the NAV flag.  This does remind me though that oft times when doing a demo for NAV, someone has previously worked with an older version of Navision and this name sticks.  While it is harmless to refer to the product as Navision (even though it makes me twitch), it is important to use this to also show the progression of the product and the roadmap going forward.  Anyone that has dealt with “Navision” may not be aware of the changes since “NAV” was introduced.  Microsoft Dynamics NAV has been through some fairly significant changes and highlighting some of these will not go amiss to set your product apart from the crowd.  Leaving a sheet of points for ‘What’s new’ in the latest release should always be part of your slides.

Know your target audience
So we know that there can always be last minute changes to the target audience but there is some prequalifying that should enable the Presales Consultant to prepare a demo suited to the attendees.  Even knowing the type of characters – serious vs. relaxed – in the audience can help you deliver a better demonstration tailored to the individuals.

This is such an important aspect of the Presales presentation!  It is easy to be carried away in a demo, especially when you have an active audience that fires questions at you.  This is where you need to allow the open discussion but keep it on track.  As the presales consultant it is sometimes difficult to reign in the enthusiasm of the audience while also answering the questions and it is up to the Salesperson to step in and help out before there is no time to cover the important aspects on the agenda.  They should ensure that they watch the time and try keep the demo on track.  At the end of the day you need to ensure that you score highly enough of the customer’s checklist that you qualify for the next round of demos and proof of concept meetings.

Book extra time
The time that you need for a demonstration is often booked according to a set agenda but if you have an open discussion/question policy then you will find that you overrun.  Most customers don’t mind the overrun because they are so enthusiastically involved in the system and excited to see how it works but it is better to set the expectation for timescales and allow the customer to set aside time in their diary for overruns so you won’t be cut short.  This also includes booking of meeting rooms when doing a demo at a client site.

Be honest!
I cannot stress enough how much this can make a difference to the end project.  If you are not sure if NAV can do something that the client wants then please have this sentence prepared for your demo: “Good question.  I am not sure about that right now but let me get back to you on that once I have discussed it with the team.”
The worst thing you can ever do is tell the customer that the product can do something out of the box that you know will require development.  If this is the case, let them know.  You will be setting the expectation for the work that will be required in their project and the last thing you want is to hear the words “But in the demo you said it could be done so we are not paying extra for development.”
If you are handing the project onto an implementation team, they will not thank you for making wild promises during presales that they will need to root out during Design.

Never criticize other partners or products
I have often been in demonstrations where I am a little surprised to hear the customers tell me that the salesperson for an opposing product has told them that NAV cannot do XYZ or even worse hearing another Microsoft Partner saying negative things about other partners.  I am struck by the sheer unprofessional spirit of these comments and I would never want to be remembered in this way so if you are faced with this behavior or questions, be tactful and sensitive in your answers and ensure that you are always the better man.  If you have to criticize opponents to make a sale then you have lost it already.

I hope that you can benefit from my list.  Although there are quite a few more that I could add in here, I think these are the core set of rules.  Happy NAV Presales Demonstrations.


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