If you’re reading this, you’re likely in a role that involves buying tech. And if you’re in that role, you almost certainly have had to sit through meetings that are (no offense) a waste of your time.

It comes with the role – as an IT leader, people value your opinion. But as a human being, you only have so many hours in a day. Unless you have a time-turner or a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, these pointless meetings are more than just an annoyance. They’re a detriment to your workday.

We know that sometimes, vendor demos can feel just like this – a total waste of time. But these product demonstrations are an integral part of the buying process. If you get through a vendor demo and find yourself grumbling afterward, then you’ve wasted your time, and the time of everyone else in the meeting, the vendor included.

A vendor demo is your best chance to see a technical solution in action before you buy it. Take advantage of it.

Here are six ways to make sure you get the most out of your next vendor demo:

1. Schedule far in advance.

By scheduling a meeting far in advance, you ensure that every important member of the buying process will be there. This also gives the vendor time to prepare for any special needs or use-cases you might have.

2. Share an agenda ahead of time.

Let the vendor know who will be at the meeting and what you want to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to tell them how long they have to present, and how much time you’ve allotted for Q&A and other meeting items. This lets the vendor tailor their demo to your needs. We’ve all been in those meetings where someone just won’t stop talking. With an agenda, you make sure to nip this in the bud.

3. Share key integrations and business goals with the vendor BEFORE the demo.

This may seem like common sense. But make sure the vendor knows what you want to get out of the technology. For example, they do the entire demo highlighting their technology’s integration to salesforce, but your company uses HubSpot, then the demo was squandered before it even started. Stress these key integrations and goals beforehand (maybe in the same email as your agenda).

4. Ask your team for questions in advance.

You know when think of the perfect thing to say right after a conversation? It’s such a common feeling, The French even have their own term it: l’esprit de l’escalier (staircase wit – the great comment you think about at the bottom of the stairs). Get in front of this by soliciting your team for questions before the demo even begins. This way, if someone is distracted, pulled out of the meeting, or just plain forgets, you can ensure that no question goes unasked.

5. Meet in person (if you can).

This one can be tough. Remote work makes gathering in person complicated, and depending on COVID trends, it may not even be possible to meet. But getting people together in a room helps ensure that everyone is focused and collaborative. It’s also a good way to get to know a future tech vendor. The casual conversation before and after a demo can be telling.

6. End the meeting with next steps.

So, it’s done. First you down-selected vendors, then you got everything scheduled, and miraculously, everyone was able to participate in the demo. But in reality, the vendor demo is just one more step on your buying journey. End your vendor demo by scheduling a follow-up meeting. It’s up to you what this meeting is: maybe it’s a financial review session. Maybe it’s an additional session for additional questions. Perhaps it’s even a vendor selection meeting. But make sure your next meeting is on the books before the vendor walks out of your office. That way, you control the pace of your buying process.

Need more insights on how to run a great vendor demo meeting? We’re happy to share more tips from our years of experience as technology partners.