Demo “Storylines”: The Journey, The Destination, or Both

Many software vendors talk about “The Journey” or “The Customer’s Journey” as a storyline for their demos.  We need to ask ourselves, however, what is important to the customer? Is it really the Journey or is it the Destination – or possibly both? Let’s think critically about promoting the Journey vs. the Destination before deciding how to best position our demos…

It’s All About Value

Here’s a very simple way to determine if the Journey, Destination, or both should be the focus:  Where does the customer get value?

  • If the customer gets value along the Journey or if there are sufficient waypoints of value along the way, then the Journey should be promoted.

  • If the customer only gets value from the Destination, then push the Destination.

  • And if both, then both…!

But be cautious about making assumptions.  For example, a “Journey to the Cloud” could entail both – but you need to assess this carefully.  For example:

  • If the Journey is just a series of tasks and steps to migrate a customer’s existing environment to the cloud – and there is no real value returned to the customer at each of the steps – then the Destination is the correct positioning.

  • Contrariwise, if the customer enjoys value realization at several (or all) of the steps, then you should likely promote both the Journey and the Destination.

When It’s Not the Journey…

Many vendors try to glorify the workflow(s) enabled by their software as “Journeys” but may be misunderstanding the customer’s perspective.  Vendors, after all, are often in love with their own software.  What does the customer think?

After all, a workflow is still work:  A series of steps or tasks that need to be completed.  Most software products automate and streamline traditional workflows, often embracing a broader range of functions, while making them faster and with fewer possibilities for errors. But is a workflow a Journey?

Here are a few examples where the Journey is likely not the desired experience, from the customer’s perspective:

  • Anything to do with Set-Up Mode: Anything done once to implement a system is not a good Journey storyline for a demo, particularly if there is no value associated with the Set-Up steps.

For example, entering information into a database or CRM system delivers no value to the user; it is only when the database is large enough to provide useful search results and analysis that value is gained.

  • For an executive or senior manager, most workflows are not particularly interesting and don’t make for a compelling Journey.

Workflows are simply sets of tasks that need to be executed by staff members.  Senior management does want to make sure that their staff will be comfortable using the software, but that is (potentially) the staff members’ Journey – not management’s.

  • For staff members, workflows are the tasks they likely do repeatedly – this is not a Journey.

Anything you do over and over and over at work, is just that:  work.  Commuting 45 minutes in heavy traffic to an office twice a day is an example of a workflow – definitely not a Journey!

When It’s Not the Destination

This is actually harder…  It is more difficult to think of software products where the Destination is not a desired deliverable.  Perhaps:

  • Ad hoc exploration of large masses of data – looking for novel trends or unanticipated relationships could be an example.

(“But,” I hear you cry, “aren’t finding the trends or relationships actually Destinations…?”  Hmmm, I think you’re right…)

Again, we can apply the simple test:  where does the customer get value?  If there is no value in a Destination, then the best positioning is the Journey.  Note, however, that the customer needs to get value from the Journey – or this particular product is at risk!

When It Is the Journey

  • Employee on boarding: This could be a good example journey, leading from hiring, through initial HR on boarding forms and documents, to receiving hardware, to identifying and executing training, ongoing development, career advancement, etc.  As with life, one’s career is (hopefully) a Journey, with way points of accomplishments along the route.

Note, of course, that these way points may also be Destinations in their own right…!

When It Is the Destination

Frankly, it is likely that most software solutions focus on Destinations – for example:

  • Finding and addressing problems.

  • Identifying root causes.

  • Delivering reports.

  • Providing alerts.

  • Exposing opportunities.

  • Surfacing exceptions.

  • Achieving governance.

  • Enabling a process.

  • Facilitating continuity.

  • Establishing and confirming compliance.

  • Optimizing systems, processes and workflows.

  • Improving performance.

Even avoiding loss can be a Destination (think about it…).

If the customer receives all of the value based on arriving at the Destination, then position accordingly.

A Matter of Perspective

Another point of view on the Journey vs. the Destination is exactly that – it may depend on the point of view of the customer.  Here’s an example:

You are flying (pre/post COVID-19) overseas for a vacation at a beautiful resort…Is it the Journey, the Destination, or both that matter?

  • If you are flying in a cramped middle seat in coach – in front of the couple with the teething child, struggling for part of the armrest with your neighbor in the back of the plane for 11 hours, and getting up every hour for that same neighbor to go to the lavator