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Vendor Software Demonstrations

A comparison of different types of demonstration

In order to select new software, you’ll probably have to attend many software demonstrations, by numerous vendors. Each has its pros and cons, and its place in the software selection process. But which is best format? And which are the right ones for you?

Below is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of eight different types of software demonstration.


1. Slide presentations


  • Quick and easy to use
  • Can provide a list of features and benefits
  • Acceptable level of detail for an overview of the software


  • Information provided can be limited
  • Does not demonstrate how the software behaves in use
  • Insufficient detail to base your purchase decision on


2. Limited version of the software eg on a CD/DVD

Comprises an interactive system, but with limitations eg on access, printing, number of uses, or time. They may contain some demonstration data.


  • These can be useful to look at the software / system in your own time
  • You will see more details, get more information and a better feel for the system than with a slide presentation


  • You will need to be able to work your way around the system and find any data that is there, or you may only see empty screens
  • Unable to interact with the software very effectively due to the limited nature of the demonstration and limited data
  • You may end up being confused and/or not as impressed as you would have been if a knowledgeable software user was showing you around the system.

3. Online / website downloads


  • As for a limited version of the software on a CD/DVD
  • Access the software via the web


  • As for a limited version of the software on a CD/DVD
  • Not as convenient as online demonstrations
  • Time spent downloading software

4. Online demonstrations
Via hosted interactive online demonstration environment


  • Quick, easy and convenient
  • No software or download needed, so save time downloading
  • Interact with a hosted version of the software via browser
  • Product tours, plus video tutorials for learning, functionality, support
  • Optional navigation, drill down, pdf downloads
  • Useful to evaluate real software in a web browser, especially from a vendor that offers a SaaS or Cloud option


  • Sample data
  • Registration may be required for full demonstration, webinars
  • No face-to-face interaction with vendor, sales consultant

5. Live demonstration at an exhibition


  • It is quick and easy to see a number of software vendor demonstrations in one day
  • Useful to compare different software and vendors
  • Get to ask questions, meet vendor representatives and obtain contacts to follow up afterwards


  • Most demonstrations will be short (probably to 1 hour) and held at the vendor stand or in an open presentation
  • They may only cover only general or the latest software functionality
  • The demonstration is shared with other interested parties, so you may not get to ask all the questions you would like to ask
  • After seeing 3 or 4 demonstrations in quick succession, it is easy to get confused as to which software does what


6. Live demonstration by sales consultant at your site


  • It is a private demonstration by the software vendor
  • Demonstration focused solely on your needs
  • You have more time to cover more aspects, in more detail and to ask more questions
  • Able to interact with the software
  • Very convenient – save travelling


  • The preparation eg setting up the demonstration room facilities
  • Arranging the demonstration


7. Remote demonstration


  • As for a live demonstration by sales consultant at your site, plus
  • Sales consultant can run a demo of the system and also discuss points over the phone
  • Sales consultant can call on other vendor support staff to answer difficult questions


  • As for a live demonstration by sales consultant at your site, plus
  • Not face to face


8. Live demonstration by sales consultant at the vendor’s offices


  • Probably the best means of software and vendor evaluation
  • Fully interactive demonstration
  • See the vendor’s organisation
  • Possibility of speaking to vendor’s sales, support, technical staff and management
  • Can get a much better feel for the vendor from such visits
  • Attendees are much more likely to be focused on the software and vendor, when the demonstration is off site


  • The most time consuming of all the software demonstrations
  • Time taken in travelling to the vendor, attending the demonstration and meeting key personnel
  • Arranging the demonstration. Time taken to find free time in all attendee’s schedules that fits in with the vendor and organise travel arrangements.
  • Need to decide, create and provide suitable data, if you wish the software demo to contain data relevant to your organisation
  • Need to decide, create and provide the agenda and any demo scripts you wish to follow in the demonstration



We suggest you use slide presentations, CD/DVD’s, exhibitions and software download demonstrations in the first (shortlisting) phase of your selection process.

Then once you have your short list – have live demonstrations by sales consultants either on or off site, with each of the shortlisted vendors.

Online demonstrations, depending upon their capability and the software involved may be used in either phase.


For more software demonstration information visit: 20 Top Tips for Attending Software Demonstrations / More software demo tips / Software Demonstration Checklist / How to Quickly Create a Software Demo Script

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