LMS demonstrators have it tough. They are not running the sales cycle but rather get brought in at certain points of many sales cycles. They are expected to get up to speed quickly on every account and deliver a tailored, business impactful demo based on client requirements. If they do great, some salesperson gets the commission and credit. If they do poorly or even average, then they are the goat.
I recently wrote a post offering demonstration advice and tips to LMS vendors to improve their win percentage. The tips are based on my personal experience of presenting or receiving over 2200 LMS demos in my career as a former LMS sales guy and now as an independent LMS analyst.
The response from readers and LMS demonstrators was fantastic and fun as demonstrators worldwide came out of the woodwork and offered up additional stories and advice from their experiences. I quickly came to the conclusion that the “LMS Demonstration Community” didn’t exist and if it did informally, it is an unrewarded and neglected group of professionals.
As an industry of buyers and sellers of LMS, I believe it is high time we stop ignoring the most important person in the LMS sales cycle and give kudos where due. Whether you are a founder, executive, salesperson or pure solution architect, you deserve more credit than you receive if you are brought in to demo and lock up the deal.
In that spirit, here are the Top 10 LMS Demonstrators in the World I’ve encountered over the last few years. In my estimation they do most everything right — prepare, understand business needs, know their solution at all levels, engage the audience, tell great stories and win. The below list is in alphabetical order and not ranking order:
Caleb Johnson, Director of Strategic Accounts, Expertus
aka “Mr. You Good?”
Caleb, sporting an MBA and a sales background, is an incredibly effective demonstrator of the ExpertusOne LMS. With a calm, easy-going style, commanding understanding of the business need and a dash of showmanship, it is impossible not to be wowed while noting the extreme preparation for each demo. In some ways, Caleb has it easy because the ExpertusOne LMS is good looking, modern and powerful, but Caleb uses those advantages to his favor and delivers stellar presentations. “You good?” is his catchphrase after he nails a demo segment, knows it and wants to hear it from the audience before moving on.
Caoimhín Gillespie (Mac Giolla Easpaig), Account Manager, LearnUpon
aka “The Rookie”
Caoimhin is the demonstrator with the least LMS experience on this list. His upside is probably the greatest. He belongs to my favorite group of demonstrators – salespeople that know the product cold and don’t need to call in help. LearnUpon is a powerful LMS designed to support all aspects of running a training company business. Before a demo, Caoimhin researches the training company prospect and tees up a tailored demonstration showing how that training company can migrate to LearnUpon –step by step. By the end of the demo, there is a working site for the customer that they can seriously use and build upon. As an added bonus, Caoimhin is always game to give you a few sentences in lyrical Irish Gaelic to help seal the LMS deal.
Ezra Wolfe, Chief Technology Officer, DLC Solutions (EthosCE)
aka “Mr. CME”
Ezra is the perfect case study highlighting how industry knowledge and experience can trump –well anything. Ezra brings a deep –Grand Canyon deep – healthcare industry knowledge, experience and storytelling that customers want to buy before he even demonstrates the LMS. The EthosCE LMS is designed for organizations that have continuing medical education (CME) management woes such as universities, hospitals and CME providers. CMEs are incredibly difficult to manage and there is a ton to know about dozens of accreditation bodies, crediting protocols, state requirements and the day to day life of healthcare training that changes from prospect to prospect. If there is a scenario in real life CME that Ezra can’t demonstrate deftly and convincingly, I haven’t found it.
Gary Underhill, Sr. Director Solution Consulting, PeopleFluent
aka “The Professor”
Gary is a professorial type presenter that can take a room of 20 stone faced attendees and no kidding –get standing ovations. I’ve seen it. The night before a big demo he is all nerves and business as he strategizes on hundreds of potential objections, differentiators and demo approaches. The next morning he’s cool as a cucumber ready to teach and win. Incredible demo prep, demo tailoring, insane experience and an engaging teaching style endears him to any serious buying crowd. The bigger the client problem and the administrative challenges, the more Gary shines.
Joe Majors, VP of Technical Sales, Saba Software
aka “The Ringer”
Joe is the ringer on this list. He has been in the LMS industry longer than me and is one of the most experienced and finest demonstrators in the world. The Saba LMS is broad and deep. Joe knows it all and can tell a hundred stories of how other customer encountered every problem and solved it. Pharma company with onerous CFR requirements? No problem, he has seen it. Global software firm with supporting 10,000 channel partners on six continents and 30 languages, bring it on. Joe has done it, knows it all and buyers love him.
Kelley Shirazi Lunceford, Director of Sales, BlueVolt
aka “Ms. MVP (Most Valuable Presenter)”
Kelley is another of the salesperson/demonstrator type who knows the product, their industry and all business drivers extremely well. The BlueVolt LMS is designed for channel and customer programs (extended enterprise). Since many of the buyers of extended enterprise are not from HR but rather business functions, Kelley has mastered the multi-hat role of educator, demonstrator, salesperson and case study (story) teller. She gave me quite the education on the manufacturing /distribution ecosystem deftly showing and teaching me many nuances of which I was unaware. Kelley is experienced, fun, engaging, witty and quick to solve use case conundrums.
Linda Bowers, VP Services and Support, WBT Systems
aka “Ms. Swiss (Irish) Army Knife”
Linda is in the 1% of all LMS professionals that can literally do it all from a sales, demonstration, implementation, support, technical and executive perspective. With an Irish lilt, she charms audiences with her extreme competence and preparation as she shows the WBT TopClass LMS solving the prospect’s exact business challenges. She makes administrators cheer, executive sponsors relax, CIOs nod in agreement and everyone laugh. As she is ultimately responsible for the TopClass LMS implementation and support, she installs a sense of confidence in the audience because she truly understands their problems and will personally guide them to success.
Meg Green, Head of Operations, Brightwave Ltd
aka “Ms. Total Learning”
Meg is an expert in demonstrating and helping clients understand the power of “Total Learning” which is the new concept of managing formal, informal and experiential learning all from their LMS — tessello. She combines business savvy, satirical humor and deep customer experience into every presentation. It is tough pitching a new concept on every single demo to an audience largely unfamiliar with it, but she has found a way to do it perfectly and convincingly. When not demonstrating, Meg runs day-to-day operations to support all of the Brightwave tessello clients.
Sean McCarthy, Director of Product Management, SumTotal Systems
aka “Mr. Unflappable”
I’m biased about Sean because we sold and won at least 50 LMS opportunities together at two different organizations over a 10-year span. With tireless prep, Sean details out and customizes every step of the presentation to the prospect’s stated and assumed use cases. Often he walks in with 10 pages of supporting notes – just in case. He has guided many, many hapless salespeople to the promised commission land. He is always ready for any client question and is unflappable even in the most aggressive and demanding audiences. Best of all, he wraps all that up with a dry (think Sahara) humor delivery style that has earned him a client hug or twenty. One time, I watched him demo for two straight days for a federal opportunity, field literally hundreds of questions from 30 participants and not get stumped once!
Tamer Ali, SVP YM Learning, Digital Ignite
aka “Mr. Class Act”
Tamer is a class act. He is calm, polite, agreeable and unbelievably experienced in extended enterprise LMS solutions. Uniquely, he learns and notes everyone’s name and area of responsibility at the beginning of every meeting and engages attendees by name at relevant portions of the presentation. He demos the Digital Ignite LMS almost exclusively using live client sites. In this manner, he shows understanding and compliance to the requirements through the lens of his clients’ successes. I enjoy every Tamer demo because I always walk out a little bit smarter and a whole lot of impressed.
There is a direct correlation between great demonstrations and winning new clients. There is an even better correlation between poor demonstrations and losing. Although every one of the above top LMS demonstrators has a different presentation style, personality and skill set, they have all learned how to be incredibly valuable for their employers and clients through an understanding of the business needs and intense preparation.
Salespeople, LMS vendors, you should express your thanks and hook them up fiscally for a job well done. It’s almost impossible to replace them and I know another 590 LMS vendors that would love to have them.
Thanks for reading!
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