Make the Most of Your Learning Management System Demo

Adriann Haney | 09/10/2013

If you are in the process of looking for a learning management system and find the process to be overwhelming, I don’t blame you. Whether you’ve never had an LMS before or dislike the one you currently have, you understand it’s no easy task searching through the sea of vendors and products out there.

ID-100121475One of the critical first steps in selecting an LMS is the demo. It’s the step where you first get acquainted with the system and with the sales consultant, which brings me to talk about the importance of the sales consultant. Remember you’re evaluating both the LMS as a product and the vendor as a whole.

So, has the consultant communicated with you appropriately and timely about scheduling the time for the demo? If communicating via email, have their emails been clear, professional and well written? Have they followed up with you quickly and provided the information you needed? These are important and critical things the consultant needs to get right. If it’s not going so well at this point, you might need to move on to the next vendor.

Now on to the demo. I feel there are some important items that both parties need to do in order for the demo to be a productive use of time. Below I will speak to some of the initial stages of the demo process and address points I think are important from both the consultant’s and evaluator’s side.

Gathering the information

Consultant: Ask how they plan to use the LMS? You need to understand their business and their objectives for the LMS. The more you know about the company, the more productive and time effective the demo will be. Also, ask if there is certain functionality that they require in an LMS and why. And, if they do have a list of requirements, make sure to prepare to address these on the demo. You can cover other features and highlights of your system but you need to tailor the demonstration so that the evaluator can truly start assessing, from the very first demo, if this is the right LMS for them or not.

Evaluator: The more clearly you can communicate what you need your LMS to do, the better. If you’ve not had an LMS before, then tell the consultant how you are currently handling your training and how you’d like to improve it. If you have an LMS now, then tell them the challenges you face and the things you are not happy with, everything from features to customer support. It’s very helpful for several reasons to take the time to explain the background and the goals you have for an LMS.

During the demo:

Consultant: At the beginning of the demo, ask the evaluator their knowledge level of elearning and learning platforms. This will help you to tailor your discussion so that you don’t waste time covering things they already know. Also, check in periodically throughout the demo by asking questions: “Is this feature important to you?”, “Do you have any questions around this?” etc. This seems simple, however we’ve all been on demos that were very one sided with the consultant droning on and on. This is not fun or helpful to either side. The point of the demo is to understand the evaluator’s needs and situation. It’s helpful for them to see how wonderful and great both you and your LMS are, but it won’t get you closer to a sale if you have not specifically addressed how the LMS will help them meet their goals.

Evaluator: Tell the consultant the truth about your level of knowledge. If you’ve bought LMS’s before, then let them know. Telling the consultant this information is important and will help ensure the appropriate level of conversation takes place. And similar to the advice for the sales rep, ask questions. Don’t be scared to stop the consultant mid-sentence to ask a question. It’s okay to ask them to repeat building a report several times. This is a case where there are no stupid questions. The demo is about you, so view it as your time and use it well!

I think you can see that this all really boils down to open and honest communication. Picking an LMS is a process, so take the time to prepare and ask questions.

In case you missed it, read our last blog - "5 Warning signs your LMS software is failing you"