Tech Selection: The Vendor Who Wouldn’t Demo the Scenarios

Welcome to RSG's latest "Real Story" case study about technology selection.

We were facilitating the selection of a new digital publishing platform for a major diversified media company. During one of the demo days, one of the vendors ended up shell-shocking the audience by deconstructing the carefully-crafted business scenarios into a list of discrete features and functions. They listed the features on PowerPoint slides and then demoed each, one by one, outside of any business (read: human) context. 

When the customer asked questions outside the scope of the vendor’s carefully controlled narrative, it resulted in blank stares and awkward sighs.

At that point, we had a couple of options:

  • Part ways right then and there, and not waste anyone’s time. If the vendor doesn’t bother parsing your use cases, would they bother responding to, say, your support tickets?
  • Put the vendor and their team in a “time-out.” As childish as it sounds, isolating them in a separate room for an hour—to come up with a different approach and to re-architect the demo to focus on what you really need, can sometimes salvage a sinking day.

In this case, we went with option 1, after judging the situation irrecoverable; there was simply too much customer talent in the room to waste a day. We broke it to the vendor gently, and they had the grace to depart pleasantly. Lesson learned for all.

Lesson #1: Communicate clearly to bidders that your user stories best reflect your business priorities. You do not need to waste time with vendors who do not follow your process.

Lesson #2: Don't waste your colleagues' time if a demo has gone completely off the rails. Take a break to allow the vendor to fix it, or send everyone back to productive work.

Lesson #3: Try to give the vendor time in any demo to show you something valuable towards addressing your business objectives (you shared those objectives, right?) that you didn't specifically request.

Final Advice

Each of RSG's research streams includes sample scenarios for that particular technology.

For more selection tips and hard-hitting evaluations designed to help you select the right technology, start by downloading a complimentary vendor evaluation from one of our many research streams.


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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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