Last Updated Jun 1, 2011 1:23 PM EDT
A product demonstration is actually a type of sales presentation. The intent is to sell, which means that a demonstration requires as much preparation as a sales presentation. More, in fact, because PowerPoint slides are usually pretty foolproof, while real-life products often behave in surprising ways.
Unlike most of the subjects that I write about in Sales Machine, I have EXTENSIVE experience with live product demonstrations. Over the years, I've compiled a list of DOs and DONTs. Here they are:
- #1: DO use the demo as a proof point. A good demonstration should reinforce the sales message and "prove" that the sales claims are true.
- #2. DO focus on the decision-makers. Make sure that the demo shows clearly what in the software for THEM!
- #3. DON'T try to show too much. Focus the demo on an appropriate goal, like "show the CFO how the ROI claims are true".
- #4. DON'T repeat yourself. Repetition doesn't add credibility. It just makes the demo boring. So don't show a feature more than once.
- #5. DON'T anticipate feature needs. Unless you are 100 percent certain that a specific feature is of interest, don't demo it.
- #6. DO test to see whether you're done. When you have given your demo, check to see whether the prospect understands and is satisfied.
- #7. DON'T demonstrate to non-stakeholders. Demoing to all and sundry creates opportunities for something to go wrong.
- #8. DO take control of the demonstration. If you let the customer lead the demo, you could getting into areas that your product doesn't do well.
- #9. DO give demonstrations at the right time. There's a natural time in the sales cycle when the demo will have the most impact. Use it.
- #10. DON'T talk too techie. Focus on what the product will do for the prospect's firm, not on how your product functions internally.
- #11. DON'T use the jargon. Phrases like "best in class" and "bleeding edge" just make you look foolish, especially in front of a tech-savvy audience.
- #12. DO have a plot. A good demo tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. The plot ALWAYS stars the customer (not YOU!).
- #13. DO prepare for disaster. Provide, prior to the demo, a plausible excuse why it might not work, ideally one that can't be blamed on you.
- #14. DO have a backup plan. Have some other sales-oriented activity that can fill the gap if the demo encounters a problem.
- #15. DON'T use a spokesmodel. Hiring eye candy to do your demos just tells customers you think they're stupid and easily distracted.