Show me your KISS Demo?

Sanjay Swamy

Nov. 26, 2019, 4:13 p.m.

Show me your KISS Demo?

This was a question I was asked in by a senior candidate I was interviewing when I started off in my career nearly 25 years ago in Silicon Valley. While I was a bit embarrassed by the question itself, it wasn’t just the use of the word KISS in a technology company - but also the fact that I had no idea what the expression “KISS Demo” meant!

“ Keep ISimple, Stupid”

A KISS demo simply is a quick product demo that communicates one core value proposition of the product in a matter of a few seconds or minutes and is used to kick-off a meeting. A great example of a well done KISS demo was with ZipDial. For those who may not know, ZipDial transformed the SMS/ShortCode service into a MissedCall to Action!

Back in 2010 all services required you to send an obscure text to a short-code at a 3 rupee charge. SMS BAL to 74714 to get your bank balance or SMS SCORE to 51241 for latest cricket score. Our intuition was to turn all this into a missed call - you can imagine the KISS demo. Pull out a basic feature phone and show the 30 second comparison of the two experiences and the KISS demo was done. The rest of the meeting was struggling with point 3 as customers kept thinking of use cases that they felt were possible - the number of times someone in the room would interrupt to say “why can’t we check exam results” as if it was their biggest discovery and AHA moment made us chuckle - but the benefit of a simple concept communicated effectively is infinite.

Over the years, I've learnt that the KISS Demo is one of the most important sales tools - one that lures the customer into wanting to use know more about the product and communicates one simple but powerful value proposition in a matter of seconds. I’ve never been able to decide whether the Stupid applies to the person doing the demo or the person being shown the demo - traditionally I've always believed you should never consider customers Stupid - but I guess there is also an implied statement that if the customer doesn’t even understand the KISS Demo, he/she isn’t likely to appreciate your product.

Over the years, as tech has become a core part of our lives and all of us have lives full of interruptions, notifications, anytime anywhere connectivity (ironic that as I was writing this, I got side-tracked for 30 minutes mid-sentence), attention spans are really low. It hence becomes even more important for one to grab the attention of the other party (read customer or employee or investor) quickly, and the importance of the KISS demo becomes even more significant.

So what are some key attributes of a KISS demo?

1. Easy to Understand - it's brain-dead - the customer should never have to think about the nuances or subtleties of the product to say “ah - now I get it”. Rather it should evoke the emotion of “DUH - I get it. Even my 80 year old grandma and 4 year old child would get it, why didn’t I think about it myself!”

2. VALUE - instantly communicated - OMG, I have that problem all the time, and this is SO useful - I wanted it yesterday, I’ve been wondering why nobody did it before!

3. Excitement an emotion of “What Else Can I do - can I do X Y and Z also”. Within 10-15 minutes, customers almost derail the meeting with their own ideas of what they could do - and are excited!

4. Works ALL the time - the worst thing that can happen in a KISS demo is that it doesn’t work. Its OK to “fake it” if required - by ensuring the message is communicated - a but KISS demo MUST always work!

5. Keeps YOU excited - this is the hardest thing about repeatedly showing the same KISS demo - remembering that the customer is seeing this for the first time and your enthusiasm and excitement must be communicated EVERY time! The thrill of seeing the customer "get-it" over and over again should be something you treasure!

6. Last but not least, tells an interesting story - it’s not just the feature but the story that goes with it - and perhaps also often includes the customer or someone they know and replaces their crappy experience of the past into the the new exciting world of your product or service.

There are some risks of KISS demos if they aren’t done right however. For example, when we launched ZipDial the founders had 3 numbers programmed to send others their contact information and rather than business cards, we would tell people to dial the number and receive our business cards. Unfortunately that backfired because people thought we were in the business of digitising business cards and we quickly stopped showing that demo!

So what is your KISS demo?

Do you have one that you can turn to every time someone is interested in knowing what you do? Have you scripted it, fine-tuned it, messaged it and got it working to the point where it’s a no-brainer for you to do and others to understand? Do you use it for customers, employees, investors? Can all your employees deliver it if you woke them up at 3am?

If not, my strong advice is to spend the energy to get it going - it’s not easy to perfect but important! If you do have some good examples of KISS demos and some not so good ones, do share them in the comments along with comments on this article!

About the Author - 

sanjay swamy prime venture partners

Sanjay Swamy is an Entrepreneur & Early-Stage Fintech Investor! #DigitalPayments & #Financial Services Fanatic! #IndiaStack_Evangelist!

This article was originally published on Linkedin

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