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A Demonstration of Why Most Legal Tech Demos Don’t Work

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shutterstock_379704229Let’s face it, lawyers get a bad rap. We’re constantly berated for clueless marketing and making our websites and marketing materials all about us, instead of about our clients problems. Yet lawyers aren’t the only ones to blame; many legal tech companies are equally culpable. Yet when I googled “clueless legal tech” companies, I couldn’t come up with anything. So let me be first to share one lawyer’s (me!) view on why legal tech demos suck.

Over the past month, I’ve been through about a dozen demos of legal tech products – from newly-emerging law practice management platforms to e-discovery and other data analytics programs. Let’s just say, I’ve not been overwhelmed. In fact, most of the demos were so long and boring that I either checked out mentally (during in-person demos) or visited other websites and caught up on email (during online demos).  Here are my suggestions for improvement:

  1. Is it really necessary to force customers really have to sit through a demo to get pricing information? My greatest peeve with legal tech products is the use of the demo as a pre-requisite to getting pricing information.  As a small firm practitioner, I actually do make many decisions based on cost. So if there’s an analytics tool or e-discovery platform or research tool with a $500/month price point that I’ll only use infrequently, why waste my time by forcing me to sit through a demo before sharing the price?  If your company isn’t willing to share pricing information online, at least give me a free pass to try the product out on my own.
  2. If you force me to sit through a demo, could you at least follow up with additional information? About a year ago, I sat through a demo of Fiscal Note, a research tool that provides legislative and regulatory analytics.  Because the website didn’t disclose pricing, I dutifully scheduled a demo. When I sampled the product, the features of most interest to me still weren’t up and running, but I was impressed enough to ask for additional information on cost.  A year later, I’m still waiting…For me, lack of follow up is a major #fail because it’s indicative of the quality of customer service (or lack thereof) to come.
  1. Could you schedule demos at night or on weekends? Unlike many recovering lawyer consultants, I still practice law. Which means that my days are dominated by hearings, client phone calls and 5 p.m. filing deadlines. In agreeing to do a demo, I’m doing your company a favor, not the other way around. So why not accommodate my schedule by offering product demos evenings or weekends so they’re less likely to interfere with my day. That’s what I do for my working clients – and I expect the same service from my vendors.
  1. Hello – the demo is about me, not about you For once, just once, I’d like to sit through a demo that shows me features relevant to my practice and my needs. As this piece by Geoffrey James advises:

    Customize your demo. Every customer is unique, so every demo should be uniquely matched to that customer. Before you demonstrate a product, do your research.  Check the customer’s SEC filings, press releases, conference proceedings, annual reports, published interviews, and so forth to understand the context of the demonstration.

    I don’t think any company that’s provided a demo has gone to this level of research. That said, even if a company hasn’t done its homework in advance, the demo would still be more responsive and valuable if the sales rep would take a few minutes to ask me my interest.

  1. Why can’t I work the tools? What’s also frustrating about demos is that I’m relegated to the status of an observer. Why can’t I work the tools and play around with the product myself? More than anything, the ability to work through a task would give me an idea of how intuitive the product is to use – and if I couldn’t figure something out, the rep could show me what to do.
  1. Please, know your product and your competitors. Some of the most significant product demo fails took place at Tech Show. I sat through one demo where the sales rep simply could not find the button that would enable me to view an invoice. At least that helped me nix the product immediately – after all, if it’s too complex for the rep too use, than it’s surely too complex for me. Another sales rep boasted about the “beautiful” invoices that the platform generated – but when they finally generated, I was vastly underwhelmed. They looked no different – and to be honest, slightly less impressive— than the invoices that Freshbooks has been reliably churning out for me for a decade.
  1. Why not have lawyers demo the product, or show actual use cases?  Legal tech companies ought to be able to have several use cases on hand for their product. They ought to be familiar with how lawyers use their tools in their practices. Hiring people with marketing backgrounds who don’t know anything about running a law practice wastes everyone’s time.

While it’s true, as my co-author Nicole Black has written, even today, many lawyers are behind the times on tech. But for those of us who are interested in adopting technology to improve service for our clients, legal tech companies can’t assume that tech is our full-time job. Please, make new legal technology platforms easier for lawyers to learn about and embrace – and I promise you, we will embrace technology back.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


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