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product demonstration tips
October 29, 2021

4 Product Demo Mistakes and How to Fix Them Fast

product demonstration tips

For many sales pros, the product demo is the main event. It’s the culmination of your profiling and prospecting efforts and is your, and your product’s, time to shine.

Yet many are failing to capitalize on this opportunity as prospects become both more critical and more informed. Running a   is, as with every part of the sales process, a skill that must be mastered in order for you to become the trusted advisor and win the business.

The consequences of not doing so are grave and 90% of the time will lead to the demo culminating with apathy from the prospect, and confused disappointment from the rep as to why there wasn’t the positive outcome that had been anticipated.

However, we mustn’t despair. There are few things more compelling than an effective demo and when done properly, you can ramp that initial excitement all the way up to eleven.

Here are four common pitfalls to avoid when showcasing your product. If addressed, these can ensure your prospects leave the demo asking themselves, “When can I get started?”

1. Not Doing Discovery

Lack of discovery is especially common with an inbound inquiry rather than a prospect born from outbound prospecting. Maybe they’ve read some content or been referred by a connection and got in touch which leads many a rep to have “happy ears” and dive headfirst into the “harbor tour”.

Peter Cohan of the Great Demo! Group defined “Harbor Tour Delusion” as:

“Presenting a long, tortured demo that attempts to cover all of the possible customer needs and problems before any reasonable discussion of the customer’s situation.”

Not only is this a waste of your time, but more concerning, it wastes your prospect’s time.

If you haven’t performed discovery, you have little to no insight into whether there is even a good fit between your respective organizations, let alone understand the business objectives or pains that your product can provide a solution for.

Without having the all-important context, it becomes nigh on impossible to tie your product to the prospects’ needs and wants. A demo should build upon the pain you have initially uncovered and steadily develop a business case that will ultimately conclude with your solution being the only way to address the issues raised through discovery.

Almost as bad as conducting no discovery at all, is having that conversation, and not using the collected information. Your prospects don’t care about you or your services, they care about themselves so make the demo about, you guessed it, THEM.

If they have told you productivity is their focus, or their goal is to increase revenue make that YOUR focus. There is no need to show every facet of what you offer, identify what will resonate most and make them sing, then build your demo around that.

2. Delivering a Monologue

How many times have you been stuck in a situation with someone who will not stop talking?

You’re desperate to either jump in and offer your thoughts or even escape yet despite your best efforts, you can’t get a word in edgeways, and the person in question plows on, completely oblivious to your waning interest.

This is how your prospect feels when you are monologuing, engaging in death by PowerPoint, or going into the minutiae of your offering. Sure, there is a time and a place to do so, but as we have discussed above, we are not here for the “Harbor Tour.”

Summarizing after each key feature or value point, tailored for each prospect, is a fantastic way of ensuring the person you are speaking with is engaged. Having back and forth dialogue helps get the cogs whirring, putting their mindset beyond the sale to the real-life application and truly considering how impactful your offering will be for them

We may be having a sales demo, but we are also having a sales conversation—make sure to remember that.

3. Not Asking Why

Why? Such a simple, yet impactful question.

“That sounds interesting.” Why?
“I love it.” Why?
“Now this fits with what we’re looking for.” Why?

If, as a sales pro, you aren’t delving into the why, you are being negligent. Understanding consequences and taking your questions down the proverbial iceberg to understand what is lying beneath the surface will help you to identify the impact you can have upon their business and the implication of acting or, perhaps more importantly, not.

Asking questions, in general, will not only help increase engagement, but it will help you build the value and business case that you began in the discovery conversation.

Just because you’re in the demo phase of the sales cycle, it doesn’t mean you should stop probing. Being inquisitive helps the buyer feel like you care, and helps you to curate something specific rather than a canned feature dump they could’ve had without your presence. You are as much a part of the demo as your product.

4. Poor Time Management

Ever had a fantastic conversation, nailed your presentation, and tackled all the objections with aplomb but been left with mere seconds to gather overall thoughts, tie everything together or secure the next steps?

We’ve all been there and it’s a nightmare.

Mismanaging your time, either by not confirming availability at the top of the session, or by running out of time in the end, can lead to you coming off the demo feeling flat after being so excited at the start of the conversation.

Without leaving time to link your final comments back to the scene you set at the start of the demo and complete your story following your expert discovery, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Try to factor in that time when setting the meeting in the first place. Every second counts, don’t forget to leave time to be the expert, lead the conversation and prescribe what happens next to achieve the conclusion you desire.

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