7 Keys to a Successful Product Demo

After years of showing prospects the value of a potential solution and being pitched software by various providers, I’ve come up with a short list of what I value in a product demo. Having implemented these tips myself, I can personally guarantee they increase sales and help you cross-sell more products and services to your clients, hands down.

Follow your Agenda

Create a detailed agenda. Repeat it out loud, ensuring you cover all points. Cut out the superfluous material and stick to the main points. For good measure, use the agenda in the calendar invite. Then, at the beginning of every demo, present a simple one-page slide showing exactly what is going to be covered. Repeat it aloud. Then, follow the agenda, ensuring you keep to the allotted time frame. Always stick to the agenda.

Include Key Players

Make sure all the key players and decision makers are on the demo the first time; if they can’t be present, reschedule. This ensures quicker decision making and is a much more efficient use of your time.

Customize Your Demo

Dramatize the problem you are trying to solve for the client. Do not deliver a demo hoping your customer will eventually see something of interest. Be specific. Most people do not need to see the entire harbor. Instead, show them specific points of interest that solve their problems, then head back to shore. Use pre-qualifying questions before the demo to plot your course.

Focus on Specific Benefits

Unless they ask to see something specific, do not waste their time showing features that don’t fit. For most software solutions, a customer is considered a “power user” if he or she uses only 40 percent of the software’s features and functions. Focus on the benefits. “Sure, it can make toast, but more importantly, it will save you X hours per month and lower your cholesterol. Isn’t that worth spending $XXX?”

Don’t Give Away Free Training

A product demo should never consist of you providing detailed instructions on “how” to do something. Instead, offer a value-add: “Sure Mr. Customer, it can do that. We will provide you and your team with a more detailed process outline during our services engagement.”

Always Save Questions for Last

Letting questions blow up your demo is a great way to ensure you’ll lose the customer’s key players and run out of time before you’ve reached your key points. Remember that agenda? Save the questions for the end. Remember, you control this demo. It’s not rude to ask for a little courtesy and professionalism from the prospect or customer. If they can’t respect that, then respectfully end the demo. I’m serious.

Know Your Stuff

Of course, you have to know what you’re presenting, but I hope that goes without saying. For example, if there is a new version of your product or service that you haven’t seen, you better make sure you do prior to the demo. The last thing you want is to be asked a question about something you don’t know but should.

Be confident and try to practice with your team. They’re a great sounding board, and their guidance will definitely help improve your demos. Good luck!

Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of AQB, a business process & software consulting firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments. The firm specializes in QuickBooks integration and conversion projects. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through CrossFit training, dresses up her four cats, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.

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