What I Learned from a Year of Making Demo Videos

The inspiration for most of my demo videos.

A year ago this month I was asked to make a video of a demo for a customer. It sounded easy. Flash forward a day and I still wasn’t happy with the product, but I had a deadline, so I handed it off to the customer.

Flash forward to June. I’m sitting in that customer’s offices with their new CEO and my Regional Vice President of sales. We didn’t have an agenda, but I’m asked to pull up the video. I warn the two of them that this was my first video so it’s rough, but we watch it together. We pause every minute or so and chat. It’s summer and it’s hot outside, but I’m hot under my collar having to hear my voice in front of others. The most sobering thing about being a sales engineer is having to hear your own voice. The meeting ends and self-critiques about my videos aside, it was positive. Two days later we landed the new logo customer, and they’re now off doing some really awesome things on Salesforce.

I learned a lot from the first vide, but now that I’ve done a baker’s dozen videos this year, I learned a few lessons that I want to share. Since Martin Scorsese is probably my favorite director, I’m going to reference him and his movies exclusively in this post.

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Tales from Adolescence: New Year’s at Jewel with Stoner Kelly

You know you’re in the Chicago suburbs when you’re at Jewel.

I don’t remember when I met Stoner Kelly. Jewel was full of colorful characters and I recall there were some silly nicknames, but nobody had a name like Stoner Kelly.

My first recollection of him was as I walked to the break room one day and saw this tall, hirsute, mouth breathing man, with large bags under his eyes, wearing a butcher’s apron and staring into space behind the meat counter. In other words, he looked stoned. All the time.

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The Little Things

I build a lot of demos for customers. To keep things interesting for myself and also for the customer’s keen eyes, I like sprinkling in little Easter Eggs. In this case, for a customer in England, I couldn’t help but create a New Order / Madchester reference on the account hierarchy.

The Year of Susan

I was once eating lunch at a financial services client, with whom I’m a customer. The entire customer and consulting team shared a table. The client bragged about how their lunches are free. And there were right to brag; there was an impressive spread of food: a salad bar, sushi bar, pizza bar, sandwich station, and more. It was one of the best stocked cafeterias I’ve seen in my career and also had some of the best natural light I’ve experienced in a cafeteria. But I soon had the realization that I, as a customer, made this lunch possible. I did everything to control myself to not retort, “My policy holder dollars paid for that pizza and Diet Coke – you’re welcome.”

But the food spread and my jealousy of said spread were not the most interesting part of the conversation.

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