Product Demonstration RISK

The product demo is a critical milestone in the sales cycle. Deals can stand or fall based on the demo.

The word compelling in “compelling demo” is very important because it emphasizes the importance of making sure that your demonstration resonates with your target audience. It emphasizes that what you show is relevant, it’s timely and above all the prospect can see their future in it. It also needs to showcase “why you?.”

A demo should never be a product tutorial. Sure, the person who is ultimately going to want to set it up and work with it at some point may want to get under the hood and really understand how to configure it how you can generate reports or whatever. This is not what we cover in the compelling demo.

A compelling demo talks about their needs. It allows you to showcase that you understood those needs and shows how your solution will address those needs AND  add additional value beyond what they describe to you. This is no easy feat, so a proper demo needs care setting it up, organizing it, making sure all the right people are present on both sides and it needs to flow. It needs to be almost like a movie where specific elements, pauses, highlights, chapters are designed so that the customer can consume the demonstration and “get it” Simply a monotone showing feature after feature won’t cut it, The demo is for their benefit, not yours.

Also, a demo doesn’t have to be a demo. It could be a site visit, it could be a reference call, it could be a trial of the product, a proof of concept or an implementation with a break clause in the contract. All of these constitute a demo.

Amplifying Factors Industry Location

Further reading :

The Ultimate Guide to Sales Demos That Close Prospects

8 Best Practices for Software Sales Demos

9 Product Demo Examples that Stand Out & Convert


RED –  Miss – didn’t impress them

This typically happens when the product demonstration and the customer’s needs are not shown as aligned. Often the demo involves others who weren’t present when you did your discovery and consequently can bring in new requirements as curveballs and you were not ready to pivot to reassure them on specific items. You went back rather than moving forward.

AMBER – Flat – met their requirements but didn’t wow them

Commonly occurs when the needs of the client were not strong enough to enable you to really show your value and maybe you were the fourth or fifth demo that had shown practically the same thing from others and so the reception is flat. It can also occur if you approach the demo more as a tutorial than a demo and the recipients simply switched off. You need to show differentiated value.

GREEN –  Met required and showed additional relevant value

You have shown them what their future using your product can look like. While this puts you in a good place, you need to quickly build on this using agreed mutual next steps to move the deal forward towards concluding business.

Mitigation – what to do ?

Practice, practice, practice. You need to practice your demonstration so that you can make sure you fluidly present your capabilities. The best practice is to do this in modules so that if you need to change the sequence or if you need to pivot on the fly during the demo to show something you weren’t expecting that you have the module in your head, ready to go.

Make it relevant. This comes in two forms. First of all, the sample data used in the demo needs to be something they can relate to. If they are a heavy engineering company supplying to industry, showing them the B2C example won’t cut. Secondly, this is even more important, Make it clear that you’ve listened to their needs in the discovery phase, and make sure you show that in the demo. It’s not uncommon for people to run through the highlights of the discovery before demoing the product and then proceed to show the canned demo that is no relationship whatsoever to the specific needs.

Begin your demo with a short slideshow. Four or five slides to remind them who you are, what their needs are, and what they can expect in the demo. That’s all. A demo in this context becomes simply proof that you can meet the needs you claim on slides. This is very, very important. Remember too that there may be people on the demo who have had no interaction with you before, so this is your opportunity to impress.

Don’t make the demo too long. I’ve seen demos last 1+  hours, which really should have been 20/30 minutes. They become tutorials and almost workshops rather than a product demo. Sometimes this is driven by the understandable pride a founder has for their product or by one individual who wants to understand everything. There is a time and place for that – that’s not in this demo! In practice, people usually have a 20 to 40-minute attention span. If your product is something other than a massive system that will take many hours to show functionality break it up into specific sessions. Always aim for 20 to 30 minutes with time for questions at the end.

Come up with something to make sure it’s memorable. People often see product demos these days, whether live or recorded. Often they are not memorable. So whether it’s the tonality you use, the structure in which you present, the sequence in which you present features etc make sure that this is compelling. it needs to be storytelling at its best.

Don’t work to the demo, but through the demo. The demo needs to be done at the right time in the sales process. But think of it simply as a checkpoint along the way so you are navigating through the checkpoint, not to the demo. So make sure even before you have the demo that you agree with the champion on your next steps together. Even if it’s that’s just that you have a phone call debrief after the demo.

Don’t make the prospect do the work. If you’re not prepared and structured then the prospect ends up in a position where they need to try to extract from you the capabilities of your solution and how it matches their needs. Sometimes you get away with a bad demo but don’t rely on it.

Less is more. Make sure the demo is high energy and impactful and always leave them with the sense that there is more in your solution than they saw so long as you made sure you addressed their needs directly.

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