How to Run a Perfect Product Demo

So, you’ve built a highly qualified list of leads, and now it’s time to show them why they need your solution.

The Demo portion of your sales process gives your the opportunity to WOW your prospect. With so many salespeople selling so many products, it’s no longer possible to rely on your product offering to sell itself– how you deliver your offering plays a critical role in showing your business in the most positive way possible.

The belief that a true partnership between your organizations, rather than a transactional sale, is possible resonates from a humanized and finely orchestrated sales demo.

Step 1: Know the competition to beat the competition

In order to exceed your competition, you need to build an understanding of what their demos are like and how they communicate them.

Request and sit in on a few competitor product demos and take notes on what you loved and hated about them. Further, try to experience the product demos for industry leaders in other industries.

Exploring certain demo criteria can save you hours of trial and error:

  1. What is their talk time ratio?

  2. How long was the average demo?

  3. Were there any wow moments?

  4. What were the most salient points of the demo?

Step 2: Script your demo

The best salespeople script out their demos and commit them to muscle memory while maintaining their unique conversational appeal. This is a scalable process which locks in their audience and helps consistently close deals.

It’s also important to cater to each prospect’s unique needs. Build trust with your prospects by showing that you understand their industry and their individual needs in their role. Be literate in industry trends that can impact their business, and the threats and opportunities that come with them.

Be careful not to cram too much information in one call. To avoid information overload, make it easier for the prospect to absorb information with storytelling. Rather than bombarding a prospect with every feature, frame the value of the most relevant features around a specific customer's story and benefit.

If you were selling a marketing analytics platform you could use the following example , “Jane is a CMO at Company LLC, and she struggled with keeping her ad performance team accountable for wasted ad spend. She tried requiring everyone to log their activities in a document, but that had no impact. She came to [Our Company], and we showed her our performance tracking dashboard. She immediately saw a 25% reduction in wasted ad spend, and doesn’t have to micromanaging her team anymore.”

Helping the prospect visualize themselves as someone that would get a significant amount of utility from working with you is paramount to running a perfect product demo.

Paint a picture with your words– help your prospect break down their problems into something simple.

For example: “When customers don’t know where to click on your emails, they’ll unsubscribe from your email list. Here’s how to make sure they know exactly what to do when they get your email.”

Step 3: Prepare!

Review past call notes to familiarize yourself with the nuances of each individual sales prospect, and cater your demo’s stickiest points to solving those problems and objections.

Speak with any party who may have impacted the sales process to get the full context of the meeting before it happens.

Know who is going to be on the call and hypothesize why they are on the call. Understand what their unique challenges are in their company, and tie in the relevant product features to their role.

Do a test run until you feel confident and tidy up the visible space behind you for the presentation to minimize distractions.

Step 4: Create an agenda

Creating an agenda helps prospects understand the purpose and intention of the call. Before the call, confirm the agenda via email to give the prospect adequate time to prepare and ideally enter a buyer’s mindset.

At the beginning of the call, confirm the agenda once more to frame your demo appropriately. Continue to revisit the purpose and itinerary of the call throughout the demo call to help the prospect connect your offering’s value proposition as a solution to their problems.

A demo is not a tour! Cater your agenda to the relevant portions of your product that fit your prospect's needs and challenges.  While you may be excited about your solution, don't over-feature-sell. Attention is a finite resource and you want to reserve it appropriately.

Step 5: Identify the key goals you want to get out of the meeting

Remind the prospect of why you are on the call, and explain the outcome they should expect.

For example, “the last time we spoke about [specific challenge]. Today, I am going to show you how [My Company] addresses [specific challenge] with [specific feature]...”

Step 6: Engage your audience

Lead with questions and explore what pain points your prospects prioritize. Always place value ahead of features - showcase the legitimate benefit a prospect can expect to receive from working with you.

For example:

  • “This [feature] is why [customer] works with [Our company]”

  • “They love how this [feature] positively impacts their business in [specific way]”

  • “Since partnering with [our company], [customer] has seen X impact”

The best demos are engaging and paint a picture of immense value for the prospect. Foster an environment where your prospect can feel comfortable being curious and asking questions. Demos are not meant to be one-way conversations.

Attention and comprehension are finite resources, and you must keep your prospects involved and engaged to ensure they understand the magnitude of your demo.

A simple way to activate your audience is to engage all the parties on the call. Call them out by name, give them time to talk, and try to get them to engage with other parties in your audience to hear their thought process from a third-person point of view. For example, “John, it looks like you like X. Cathy, what do you think of X?”

Frame your questions around their understanding of the demo.

For example, ask, “How would you or your team use [feature] if you had our product right now?” to encourage the visualization of how your product can solve a pressing problem.

Ask “why” to unveil your prospect’s true intentions and motivations. If a prospect says something like “wow, that’s really cool” about a feature, implore them to explain “why”– they might just reveal something incredibly insightful about how you can tailor your product to their needs. “Why” is an incredibly useful tool in your exploratory arsenal:

  • Why now?

  • Why do we need to fix this problem immediately?

  • Why is this priority high on your list?

Simple comprehension checks like “does this make sense?” may seem like a good way to keep the prospect engaged, but they may have the opposite effect. In fact, there is only one way for your prospect to answer: “does this make sense?” (YES!) because if they say “No” they’ll sound foolish or like they weren’t paying attention. Use questions to promote the visualization of your solution in action rather than merely eliciting a vocal response.

Questions about pricing do not necessarily mean the prospect is interested in buying, so don’t be too quick to initiate any negotiation process– especially if you haven’t completed delivering the full value proposition of your product.

Ensure the prospect has a comprehensive understanding of your solution before you bring up pricing. It’s encouraged to wait until asked for pricing rather than incorporating pricing into your demo, unless cost-savings is a primary selling point for your business.

Final Thoughts - Ending the Call

At the end of each call, ask every person in attendance if you met expectations.

Maintain the urgency and actionability of your sales funnel by outline the concrete next steps with a clear timeline, and confirm the direct next step on the calendar.

A great sales demo can win you the deal even if you don’t check every box for the prospect’s requirements. Give your prospects reason to believe that working with you is a valuable feature that far exceeds working with anyone else.