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How to Deliver Product Demos that Convert

By Ray Makela

On this Q&A episode: "Why most product demos miss the mark, and what can I do to improve my chances of success?"

If you can't see the video thumbnail below, click here to watch the video.

*** Enhanced Video Script ***

Most people have been in those boring demos. They go on and on about detailed specifications and features that don't address our needs.

Great demos, on the other side, tell a story about how the offering is going to solve a problem or improve a situation.

Unfortunately, when giving a demo, most reps often get lost in the features and bogged down in the details. They miss the opportunity to have a discussion on how they can help improve their client’s situation. 

To improve your demo's chances of success, here are a few suggestions.

#1 Find out the why

Before diving into the details, find out what your customer is trying to do and where they are in the buying journey.

"Is the customer just kicking the tires? Are they just trying to learn about what options are available? Or, are they far along in their buying journey and understand what they're looking for?"

We need to understand where they are and align with that so that we can position our demo appropriately.

#2 Schedule a discovery meeting.

The discovery meeting is critical to a successful demo.

If it's a short sales cycle, that may even happen in the very same meeting. In that case, spend the first 15 minutes to a half-hour understanding their situation. Then get into the demo. 

#3 Recap and confirm priorities.

If you had a discovery meeting first, use the beginning of the demo to recap and confirm their priorities. Make sure they agree that you’ve captured their needs accurately. Then get into the demo.

Give customers a chance to offer feedback and confirm the problem they're trying to solve. That will save you from going into a demo that addresses a need that they don't even have, or don't fully understand.

#4 Focus on features that support their use case.

Focus your demo only on the features and use cases that solve their situation. There will be time for diving into more technical details later. You want to spend your time on how you're uniquely positioned to help them.

Another common mistake is not considering the audience. Is this a technical buyer? Somebody who will be using the product themselves? Is it a manager who's responsible for managing the program? Or is it an executive who's more concerned about ROI and meeting strategic objectives?

Often, we're demonstrating our product as if we’re speaking to a technical buyer. But then we miss the mark when we're getting to a manager or executive buyers.

Another suggestion to consider, "Have we practiced? Is the technology smoothed out? Do we understand all the features?" Things will go wrong, but we don't have to apologize. In fact, it's better not to call attention to those. The customer may not even realize if something has gone amiss.

HOW TO STRUCTURE THE DEMO

The final piece I'll cover is in structuring the demo. This is consistent with how we recommend running a sales presentation.

#1 Recap needs and requirements.

It should start with recapping their needs and requirements, "Here's our understanding. Is that accurate?"

#2 Present the solution

Then provide the solution and demo and start with an orientation at a very high level, "Here's what it is. Now, here's how it solves your problem."

Customize the demo to their specific situation as much as you can. Show your customer’s logo or use cases or refer to their specific situation and customers. Do your research and understand their business and industry as much as possible.

#3 Differentiate your solution

The third component is differentiation, "Why is this relevant to them? Why is your solution best suited to solve their problem? How is it different than the competition?"

#4 Provide proof

Tell stories and provide data and research that shows why you're the best solution. How you've done this for clients in their industry or clients with similar situations.

Finally, ask for feedback throughout. Make sure you're confirming that you're on track and that your customer understands. Then test the waters, "Do they see any gaps? How do you measure up with some of the other options that they're considering?" That'll give you an idea if you're in alignment and if it's worth continuing forward after the demo. 

If the customer raises an objection that they're concerned about, don't worry. An objection is a great way of clarifying and understand where they are.

To overcome objections, first, acknowledge that there's a question or a concern. Clarify what's behind that or what the issue is. Then address it and confirm that they understand and that you've solved that problem. By doing that, you can ensure that you understand if you're on track, a good fit, and able to move forward.

To recap, the purpose of going through a demo is about confirming that you understand the problem and then showing how you can solve that problem. It’s about telling a story that validates the customer’s situation and how you can help.

If you do that, you'll get a lot further than showing features that may be boring and irrelevant to the customer. You'll also be more aligned with helping them as a consultant and trusted adviser, which ultimately is what's going to move that deal forward.

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About Ray Makela

Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.

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