Trade Shows Don’t Deliver ROI? It’s Time to Move On To Cloud-Based Cybersecurity Demos

By Danielle Arad - January 23, 2017

RSA would be a great place to start.

In the run-up to this year’s RSA Conference, we wanted to ask whether cybersecurity tech companies need to refresh the way they demo their technology at industry trade shows and events. Despite the rise of the Internet and the ability to meet prospective leads online, trade shows remain hugely popular for IT product vendors. Perhaps it’s due to seeing how a tool functions in a real environment or the ability to meet contacts face to face, but trade shows are still a big draw. However, there’s also a lot of skepticism about the value of these events (a full 17% in this survey said they were not at all profitable, for example). What with travel and accommodation, they’re often incredibly expensive and a lot of exhibitors complain that they blow their marketing budgets for little ROI.

When it comes to enterprise technology trade shows, this skepticism is particularly strong (this 2007 article about these issues still resonates today). Presenting your B2B tool at a trade show is complicated and time-consuming, while demoing it in a way which captures the imagination of potential leads is a real challenge.

If you’re trying to show someone how your cybersecurity tool works, you need to be able to present them with a lifelike scenario. An enterprise cybersecurity tool only really ‘makes sense’ in context—when applied to multiple farms, servers and complex networks with many users. Your prospects will only really see its value when you show how it reacts to a complex attack, and creating such a lifelike scenario at a trade show is far from easy. Furthermore, since you’re presenting to strangers, showing off your tool in a way which resonates with them is even harder – in contrast with being in the office of a warm lead who you can tailor your demo for.

So, besides basic demoing best practice and ensuring you use your booth well, how can you make your cybersecurity trade show demos successful?

Why is it so difficult to demo cybersecurity tools at trade shows?

So, your tool is set to revolutionize cybersecurity. Perhaps you’re targeting your product at CIOs in one specific vertical, or maybe you’re trying to reach as many potential leads as possible. You’ve chosen the most relevant trade show for your goals and have assembled your best team of sales engineers and your most experienced marketers. But there are still some considerable obstacles to overcome:

  • The best demos show how your product works in a ‘real-life’ environment. In the context of cybersecurity, we’re talking about very complex environments indeed: multiple servers, complex network topologies and a wide range of users with different permissions levels.
  • Setting up this kind of environment traditionally involves lugging a lot of hardware to the trade show location (which is especially costly if abroad), as well as having an on-site IT team to set it up.
  • Furthermore, you will want to set up a range of environments that are unique and targeted at different kinds of potential leads. You don’t know in advance who you’re going to be demoing your products to, so you will need a number of potential different environments that are relevant to their specific organization and IT set-up (some might have a hybrid environment and want to see how your tool would protect it; others might be purely on-premises).
  • Finally, you need to ‘attack’ these environments with a threat. Following the traditional method for this is pretty tough. You’d need to isolate each environment from the host machine and would also need to be able to set it back to a clean state for the next demo with the next prospect.

Long live trade shows!

Clearly, the traditional way of demoing cybersecurity tools at trade shows is extremely complicated and very inefficient. However, a cloud-based virtual IT platform can help you overcome the challenges of the traditional approach, impress more leads and boost your ROI from your trade show investment.

Cloud-based platforms allow you to rapidly ‘spin up’ complete, real-life environments and then demonstrate your cybersecurity tool in just the same way as the traditional method. However, the benefits of setting up your demo environments in the cloud are enormous:

  • You no longer need to lug around a load of hardware. It’s all ready for you in the cloud and can be instantly accessed, saving you money and a lot of set-up time. You can set up highly complex networks to mirror real-life environments in a pinch.
  • You don’t need a team of IT support staff to attend the conference. Instead, you can configure entire ‘libraries’ of environments in advance, preconfigured by your IT team. These can be accessed on-demand and spun up in minutes. This means you can demo different products to different prospects, but also demo different versions of an environment and show how your product defends it. And of course, these environments are totally isolated and can be reset to a ‘clean’ state afterward.
  • You can also set up ‘comparative environments’ where you demo one environment with your tool, and another without. By showing how your tool fends off a sophisticated attack better than a standard environment, you can form a more compelling argument to prospects.
  • Prospects get to experiment—let them decide for themselves by testing your tool to its limits.

Impress and inspire.

While trade shows can be very effective ways of boosting leads, they can be challenging too. And, when it comes to demoing cybersecurity tools, they can be especially tricky events. However, by using a cloud-based environment to demo your tool, you have a far more effective method of showing prospects about how your product works and present it to them in an interactive, real-world way.

At CloudShare we provide highly flexible, cloud-based environments for salespeople and sales engineers to demo their complex tools. Our solutions are used by many leading cybersecurity product sales teams. Learn more about our tools for sales demos, POCs and evaluations here