Demonstrating your product to a captive audience is a defining moment in the sales process.
As the most important step to closing the deal, you obviously want to get your demo right. If you want to close more deals and open even more doors, you need to study, practice, and perfect each stage of the demo process from preparation to presentation to the follow-up. To help you get there, we’ve composed this comprehensive overview to deliver a winning product demo.
What is a sales demo?
A sales demo involves presenting your product and highlighting the value it brings as well as the pain points it will solve for the prospect. In inside sales, demos are typically delivered using online meeting tools with chat, face-to-face video, and screen sharing capabilities. And of course, the main goal is to demonstrate the value of your product and close the deal.
Some salespeople jump right into presenting various features their product has while others completely skip the qualification step. You want to make sure you are not just focusing on the demo itself but how you approach your prospect before and after the demo.
Prepping for a stellar demo
There’s a lot of work that goes into delivering a winning demo. However, there are five key things you need to do before you can even present your product. Let’s go through the steps you’ll need to prepare for the demo.
1. Discovery call
One-size-fits-all sales demos don’t work, which is why the discovery call is so important. This is your chance to study your prospective client and identify their biggest pain points.
The goals of discovery are to qualify for the demo, identify your prospect’s challenges and pain points, build rapport, identify key decision-makers, and to sell the demo. Yes, that’s a lot, but a discovery call will give you the information you need to tailor the demo to your prospect’s story.
For the discovery call to go well:
- Do your research. Learn everything you can about your prospect’s business using resources such as LinkedIn, Twitter, review sites, and the company website.
- Choose the right communication tool. Online conferencing tools are specifically geared toward sales meetings, enabling screen sharing, collaborative browsing, real-time sales assistance, and more.
- Set expectations. Share your objectives and the agenda, and ask the prospect if they’d like to add anything.
- Ask the right questions. Compile 10-15 well-thought-out questions that will help you understand your prospect’s needs. Actively listen and don’t be afraid to change course when you learn something important.
- Sell the demo. Reiterate the most important points, reassure them that your solution will help them, and propose the next steps. Make it easy for them to say YES to seeing a demo.
2. Make it simple to schedule the demo
You should never let scheduling hiccups get in the way of your sale. Make the scheduling process as seamless as possible as not to create any barriers for your prospect.
Follow these guidelines when scheduling your demo to build up the momentum for the sale:
- Schedule the right date and time for the demo. Ideally, schedule the demo within five business days of your call. Ask for a 30-45 time slot between 3-5 pm Monday-Thursday.
- Invite key decision-makers. Identify the people who need to be in the demo meeting and find ways to get them to join.
- Ensure proper handover from SDR to account executive. If there is a handover, make it as seamless as possible. This helps ease the customer into the next stage of the sales process without making them feel like too much is changing.
- Take action to avoid no-shows. Your no-show rates can decrease by over 50% with the right email reminder! Send your email within working hours, the day before your demo, and make it simple to reschedule by using scheduling software.
- Automate your scheduling process to maximize efficiency. Send your demo participants personalized messages and reminders at predefined times after they schedule the meeting.
3. Craft a strategic demo agenda
Your demo agenda should be a strategic plan for the flow of the demo, designed specifically for the prospect and their business. It tells everyone why they are attending the demo, what they will get out of it, and the amount of time it will take to complete.
After you’ve established the timeline, you’ll talk with them for about 30 minutes. Respectfully stay within that time frame. Creating a demo agenda is extremely helpful not only for yourself but will help set your prospect’s expectations early on. In this case, prepare to spend five minutes on an introduction, five minutes to set the stage, 15 minutes for solution mapping, and five minutes for the next steps.
A well-thought-out agenda should give you time to:
- Connect with the prospect and discuss their business needs.
- Explain how your software specifically solves those challenges, beginning with the most pressing pain point or goal and moving down the list.
- Demonstrate how your software addresses a specific issue.
- Follow up with a case study or applicable story from one of your other clients.
- Go over questions and next steps.
4. Customize your demo using the One Feature Framework
Products tend to have dozens of use cases and features that solve various needs. Over time we have learned that to sell effectively, it’s best to highlight one main feature that will solve the prospect’s main pain points. This laser-focused approach is called the One Feature Framework.
The One Feature Framework can be implemented in four steps:
- Develop your One Feature Framework Matrix. Create a spreadsheet with prospect personas with their respective goals and value propositions, stats/quotes that apply to each persona, common pain points, product solutions, and the features that effectively solve those pain points. You can then use this as a reference for each of your leads going forward.
- Retell your prospect’s story. Use the information from your Discovery call to create a personal story that plays back what they shared about their business needs.
- Demo your selected feature like a pro. Know your one feature inside and out. Explain to your prospect that your product has a lot of functionality, but the demo is customized to show how it specifically meets their needs.
- Give them more. Create curiosity and interest by hinting at other features, which you can share in a follow-up meeting or through a free trial.
5. Correct technical set-up
In a recent survey, 70% of respondents reported that technical blips during their presentation led to a loss of credibility with their audience. Ensure you have the right set up, including:
- A strong internet connection
- Good lighting and an appropriate background
- A screen sharing tool that will work with any browser on any device
- Upgraded audio, including a headset or microphone
- Built-in recording functionality on your presentation tool
By investing a couple of extra minutes to make sure your tech set-up is running smoothly, you can drastically decrease the number of issues and distractions you have during the demo.
In-demo best practices
If you’ve just scheduled a demo, you’ve got a golden opportunity to showcase your product and help your customer succeed. Here are the best practices that will help you deliver a smooth, insightful demo.
1. Before getting down to business, make a meaningful connection
The beginning of the demo should be reserved for establishing a personal connection with your prospect. One advantage of a video conferencing tool is that you get to see each other face-to-face without wasting time trying to find a place to meet.
Instead of immediately getting down to brass tacks, take a minute or two to talk about something you have in common. This might be a shared connection, your alma mater, or something relevant you learned when researching them on social media or on the company website.
Getting your audience talking early and developing rapport, will make the rest of the demo flow more smoothly as you all get to know each other.
2. Set expectations and stay on track
Pop quiz! What should you have emailed to your prospect 24 hours prior to the meeting? That’s right. A demo agenda.
Since there may be various people attending the meeting, including key decision-makers, it’s always a good idea to outline what has been discussed previously and reiterate the agenda. Informing prospects about the agenda at the beginning of the demo and asking if anything is missing, sets expectations, and keeps everyone on task.
Your demo agenda timeline should look something like this:
- Share the agenda (5 min.): Connect with your customer on a personal level while you share your agenda, clarifying your goals, and the prospect’s goals.
- Set the stage (5 min.): Summarize the situation and retell your prospect’s story covering their pain points.
- Demo the solution (15 min.): Demonstrate how you can help solve their business challenge with the One Feature Framework.
- Agree on the next steps (5 min.): Clarify what needs to happen to move the deal forward.
3. Keep prospects engaged throughout the demo
Keeping everyone engaged in your demo seems like a no-brainer, but you can’t rely on your charismatic personality alone. Too many demos focus on functional product features without considering the emotional aspects that influence the sale.
Try incorporating these engagement techniques into your demo to ensure prospects are connecting with you on both a business and an emotional level.
- Smarter small talk. Instead of the usual superficial small talk topics, such as the weather, “smart” small talk focuses on topics that relate to your prospect’s business or your common interests. For example, bring up a recent article about their industry.
- Earn trust. Find ways within your presentation to demonstrate these three elements of building trust: credibility, reliability, and intimacy. Establish your expertise, show them that you listen and understand their specific needs.
- Get personal. Do your research to understand your audience and what motivates them. Beyond explaining the general problem-solution, frame it in context to the people listening to the demo.
- Tell a story. People love stories. Instead of delivering a functional demo, incorporate stories to grab people’s attention, and make each point memorable. You can use case studies, personal experiences, visual props, or even tell a joke. There are lots of creative ways you can bring your demo to life.
These engagement tactics work if you prepare in advance. Make them seamless to your demo and deliver them in an authentic way.
4. Be ready to handle objections
It feels good when your presentation goes well, but it doesn’t mean the pressure is off. When it’s time for questions, you need to prepare yourself for objections.
It’s important to remember that objections during a product demo usually mean the prospects are considering your product and want to cover every possible scenario. It’s not a time to argue, but a time to enlighten. Here are 5 tips to conquer objections:
- Be empathetic: Walk in your prospect’s shoes and address their questions with an eye on finding a solution.
- Probing questions: Some objections are not as straightforward as they seem. Asking the right questions can help unearth the real reasons for the concern.
- Active listening: It’s tempting to formulate an answer before listening to the entire objection. Take your time to deeply understand the question before answering.
- Provide the solution: The sooner you solve the objection the better. That being said, if you don’t have an answer, don’t make something up. Let them know you will get back to them within 24 hours.
- Get confirmation: Don’t assume your answer satisfied the prospect. Double-check by asking them specifically so you know for sure.
Everyone loves when a demo goes smoothly without any questions or objections, but the reality is that no objections can be a red flag. It might mean their interest is low. Instead of fearing objections, prepare for them and make them work in your favor.
5. Define and agree on next steps
Before wrapping things up on your demo, your last goal is to establish the next steps. Chris Orlob, Director of Sales at Gong.io, found that close rates can plummet by over 70% when you fail to discuss the next steps.
The succeeding stage of the demo process, defining the next steps, should not be an afterthought. In fact, you can start preparing for the next steps before the demo even starts. To get you going, use these following few tricks to define the ideal course of action for your prospect.
- Discuss the next steps beforehand. While you’re scheduling the demo, add a line at the end of your email to set the next steps. You can write something like, “As for the next steps after the demo, we’ll send you the final proposal within 24 hours for you to review so we can schedule a contract call.”
- Pointed questions. It’s important to ask open-ended questions during the demo to encourage a deeper discussion, but when the demo time is almost up, switch to pointed questions. Pointed questions require definitive answers like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ so you can define the next steps.
- Strong closing statement. Reiterate the value proposition and deliver a clear call to action that naturally evolves into the next step.
- Set expectations. You are in control and your prospects need to know what’s next. If needed, give them step-by-step instructions for what’s next.
- Confirmation. Always get a verbal agreement of the next steps that you presented. And then follow-up with an email restating the steps so there is no confusion.
While the next steps are critical to let the prospect know what they need to do after the demo, you need to continue using this momentum by sending a well thought out follow-up email.
Post demo: follow-up emails
The demo ended and time is ticking. The most important action after the demo is to craft a follow-up email that keeps the momentum going. Your follow-up email should also cover the next steps that you agreed upon previously.
Don’t assume you can scrounge by and throw together something without much thought. This can actually hurt you in the grand scheme of things. The following five pointers will help you be more constructive when sending and writing a follow-up email.
- Send your email 12 working hours after the demo.
- Don’t try too hard to sell. Be patient and stick to the next steps.
- Make sure your internal team is aligned with the contents of the email.
- Check that you didn’t forget to include anything from the demo conversation.
- Track the email and use a tool that allows for scheduling the next steps.
To maximize the effectiveness of your email, we’ve identified a successful follow-up formula that you can use, along with the pointers, as a template for your own follow-up.
Here is an example of this template put into play:
Subject: Great Demo! Here is what comes next.
I thought I would send you over a quick email to reestablish what the next steps will be moving forward. There were a few areas you wanted to focus on in the demo to see how we might be a fit. We focused on:
- Integration with all your existing tools: Includes all the tools you are currently using as well as the ones you are considering to include.
- Simple-to-use interface: The streamlined interface helps simplify activities for both internal teams and customers.
- Automation for customer-facing processes: You can customize the extent of the automation process so that your customers are always informed.
You mentioned that you would also like to show your colleague the interface. The next step would then be to schedule another quick video call. You can do that here.
I look forward to talking with you and your colleague soon!
Pulling it all together
Remember that you’re in control of the sales process, and your prospect is expecting you to guide them through each step. That means over-communicating, understanding their situation, and working with them to provide value.
Each phase of the demo process that we walked you through, from demo preparation and the demo itself to the demo follow-up, is essential to pushing the sale forward in the most effective way. Did you forget to do a discovery call first? Well, you might be spending your valuable time on a lead that won’t even buy.
Implement these strategies in your sales process to present demos that convert! If you need an extra hand, check out these checklists that will help you through the whole progression of the sale. Happy sales!