How to get the most out of your CMS demo

In the market for a new Content Management System (CMS)? Follow our tips to get a tailored demo, plan what features you want to see and what questions to ask, to ensure you get all the information you need of each CMS platform.

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So, you’re evaluating a new content management system (CMS). You’ve already taken the time to do your research, gathered your organization’s needs, and narrowed down your shortlist of potential winners to no more than a handful of options. If you thought that was the hard part, how about turning that shortlist into one platform?

The live demos of the CMS will be a key component to decide on the solution that best fits your business and determine which vendor you’ll work with. But we’ve all suffered through canned PowerPoint presentations that leave you just about where you started. To avoid this and ensure you really get to see what you’re interested in, here are four simple tips to get potential vendors to actually show you how their products can help you achieve your goals.

1. Go beyond the sales pitch: ask for a demo tailored to your needs

During the demo, ensure to focus on your team’s needs, what do you want and need vs what the CMS can do completely. You don't want another sales pitch where afterwards you still have a lot of open questions.

  • Identify needs: Start with identifying what your specific needs are to ensure you are addressing them during your demo: What are the key capabilities and features you want your CMS to do? What are the most common and important tasks? What are your current pain points of managing content online and how do you hope a new CMS can solve them? Ensure to involve all your key stakeholders to gather and understand the needs and expectations of the teams whose work will depend on the platform.
  • Prioritize: What are must-haves vs. nice-to-haves? (cf. A great way to prioritize is to use the four prioritization categories in the MoSCoW methodology: Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have). What do you need right now and what do you need in the future? During your demo ensure that you focus on the most important capabilities you want your CMS to do.
  • Come prepared: To get the most out of the demo, both you and your team members should already have a common understanding of your requirements as well of the basics of the platform you’ll be seeing in action. Make sure everyone has gone through documentation material from the vendor prior to the demo to avoid seeing easy-to-understand features and capabilities. This will help you to focus during the demo on the things that you really want to see and where you still have open questions.
  • Ensure your technology partner comes prepared as well: Brief your prospective vendors beforehand so they fully understand your key requirements, as well as which team members will be involved. This ensures they can adjust the demo according to your needs as well as to the expectations of the different user profiles that will be present.

2. Don't go solo: include your key internal stakeholders in the demo

Identify your key stakeholders and involve them from the start. Earlier involvement usually equals greater commitment and easier buy-in down the road. By including them in the demo it will give them the opportunity to get the information first-hand, ask specific questions based on their own expertise and functional domain, etc. and last but not least, to get them excited about the new tool!

3.  Don't forget about the customer experience

While it is important to have your internal stakeholders on board, essentially, your ultimate goal should be of a consistent and seamless experience that guides your prospects and customers.  In the end, a great back-end experience will be worthless if on the front-end your website navigation makes visitors get lost looking for information or if they’re constantly prompted to provide the same details every time they interact with your content. Some of the key points to assess are how the CMS renders content on multiple devices, and if it allows multi-channel publishing.

4. Ensure your CMS is future proof

Allow a learning curve for your CMS: you want your CMS to be easy-to-use and highly adoptable, but you also want your CMS to be future-proof.

Prepare a CMS for business growth: What are the future plans of your company? How is your company growing? Share some high-level directions (just secure a Non-Disclosure Agreement) and pick your technology partner's brain. How can this CMS current capabilities as well as the pipeline of future developments support your overall strategic direction? For example, if you’re planning to extend your business cross-borders, surely you don't want to miss out on hearing about the CMS’s features supporting multilingual content and multi-country structures.

What other capabilities has the CMS to offer that can accelerate your business? A good way to get real practical examples is to ask your technology partner to demo a couple of use cases from their most mature clients, preferably in a similar industry. Useful questions to ask at this point are: What were top reasons for them to select this specific CMS? How have the different CMS features helped them overcome the challenges or create a positive business impact for their customers? What are their favorite features and why? Ask for concrete examples to understand the capabilities completely.

During the demo, ask your technology partner to go over the vision and future direction of the CMS. What is planned to be released in the future? Which direction are they heading into? How does this fit with your business strategy and goals?

Final words

If you’re comparing different products, make sure that all the demos cover the same usage scenarios. The best way to evaluate your shortlist of potential winners is to build a features matrix and score each platform on all of your requirements. Besides assessing the advantages and future potentialities, don’t forget to look into the shortcomings and risks.

If you’re evaluating a new CMS and find you’re stuck in the process, why not schedule a one-on-one consultation with our team? Get in touch through the comments below to find out how we can help you.

Published on    Last updated on 01/07/2019

#Digital Strategy, #Content Management

About the author

Laura Van den Eynde is Business Consultant at Amplexor, based in Belgium. Specializing in digital marketing, marketing automation and user experience. Laura is responsible for identifying the client requirements and leading digital projects from concept to implementation.