By Greg Perry, MyMediaInfo
Over the years I’ve worked on both sides of the PR desk. Having been on the agency side and now as a vendor, I’ve given and received countless demos for everything from media databases and monitoring services to envelopes and copiers. After participating in my share of good, not-so-good and just plain awful presentations, I thought my experiences could translate to some helpful tips for my PR colleagues. All demos are not created equal, so here are some ways to ensure you get the most out of your time with a potential vendor.
TIP #1 – Pre-qualify your top 3
If I had a dollar for the number of times I‘ve given a presentation to someone who has already sat through six other vendor demos, I’d have a house in the tropics. I can honestly say that unless you have a memory that qualifies you for a new CBS crime drama, you will not be able to distinguish which company offers what. Do your best to pre-qualify vendors before the demo by finding out who is in your price range, who offers the basics of what you need and who is just plain over the top.
TIP #2 – Know your must have’s
Figure out at least three things that are on your “must have” list and ask about them specifically. If you’re having trouble being specific as to what you need the service to do, you can probably expect a very long, scripted demo that will spend the majority of time on services that you don’t need. If media monitoring is not on your list, make sure to let your sales rep know.
TIP #3 – Avoid the spreadsheet
There is a category of folks that vendors lovingly refer to as “spreadsheet fillers”. These are typically entry level employees with minimal knowledge of the “must haves”. They’re investigating the options with a list of generic questions and a bunch of boxes that need filling in. What makes this a dangerous method is the lack of standardization that vendors use to calculate the numbers that are generally requested. For example, a typical spreadsheet question is “how many contacts are in your database?” And while it’s a great ask, there will be a large variation in the number among vendors. This can be because the vendor simply doesn’t have a robust database or counts Twitter as one outlet while another counts each individual on Twitter they list as a separate contact, all resulting in a difference of several hundred thousand while the reality is both vendors have the same contacts. This also applies to a journalist working for multiple outlets. Some count this person as multiple contacts, while some count as just one. Be sure to ask your sales rep how these numbers are calculated – if he or she can’t answer quickly and succinctly, hang up and move on.
TIP #4 – Make it personal
During the demo, be ready to ask questions that are specific to your agency or company. If you’re reviewing a media database and are being shown how to target Florida travel writers, but need to know how deep the company is in Telecom, ask to see this. If the vendor can’t deliver, then you know you’re watching a scripted demo where only the best data is displayed. Your demo should be personalized to your needs.
TIP #5 – Request, no, insist on a trial
If you’re truly considering the purchase, insist on a trial. If the vendor pushes back on giving you one, red flags should be waving and alarm bells should be going off.
TIP #6 – Know when to move on
If it’s not a good fit, let the sales rep know. Most PR services vendors hire true professionals who appreciate hearing, “no thank you, it’s not a good fit,” rather than never hearing why it didn’t work out and wondering what they could have done differently.
Hopefully these tips will help you prepare for a great presentation and get the most bang for your buck. Your time is valuable, and we always appreciate it when you generously give us a few minutes to review our products and services. Best of luck out there!