I find it telling that “Retailers seem to understand vendor frustration with demos, but say that demos need to be improved rather than discontinued.” Explaining this is really simple: Retailers see nothing but upside from demos, and vendors have to pay for them.
With the benefit of a few years’ experience offering a cloud-based platform specifically designed to manage and optimize demo programs, I can report that the retailer position that demos should be improved is right on the money (literally). The onus is on vendors to run a program that focuses on performance and accountability, like with any salesperson. Most current demo programs are open-loop and virtually un-managed. Many vendors quit simply because this kind of close management isn’t in their wheelhouse.
The good news is that today it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to gain control of a demo program. We’ve seen clients increase the sales productivity of their demos by a factor of 5-10x (i.e., several hundred percent) with very straightforward tweaks to their approach, and achieve a positive ROI with a very short payback.