Effective product demos are crucial for winning over potential customers and driving sales. However, delivering effective demos is no easy task. Many Solution Engineers struggle to deliver impactful demos that resonate with their audience despite technical selling being their area of expertise. Software solutions are complex, prospects have unique use cases, buying teams are expanding, and competition is fierce.
Kerry Sokalsky, the Founder and President of Presales Mastery and co-author of the Presales Buyer’s Guide, is an expert in helping B2B software sellers excel in their demo calls through personalized coaching.
In his DEMOFEST 2023 session, Kerry delves into the metrics where presales demos tend to underperform, shares tips for improvement, and provides some holistic strategies for implementing these suggestions effectively.
Provide Useful Introductions
Far too often, presales professionals introduce themselves in a lackluster way, either relying on our sales reps or using generic job titles. This doesn’t give the audience a reason to be excited or help them understand our value.
Instead, as we introduce ourselves and our organization, we should focus on how we help prospects solve their problems. Just be careful to avoid sounding too technical. Speaking plainly will help build rapport with the audience from the start and gives us the opportunity to learn about our audience’s needs.
Introductions are also an opportunity to get your audience to open up about themselves. By asking each person what they’re hoping to get out of this meeting, we can address their specific concerns later on during the demo.
If there are too many people in attendance to get through every area of interest, you can either ask for a representative from each department to give their top topics or reach out to every person individually by email or interactive video demo. This allows you to complete additional discovery without setting up another full meeting and makes a stronger impression that you strive to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
Respect Audience Availability
Probably the biggest mistake you can make while delivering a demo is running out of time. Not only does it waste the potential buyer’s time, but it sends the message that you don’t know how to manage your time appropriately. Confirm how much time is available at the start of the meeting and ask if anyone has a hard stop or needs to leave early, then adjust your demo agenda accordingly prioritizing the most important topics for each individual.
It’s not always guaranteed that you’ll get a second meeting or that sending a recording from a digital presales platform afterwards will answer the remaining questions. Without knowing how much time is available, you run the risk of having to rush through portions of the demo or skip over sections entirely. Plus there’s always the chance your audience can stay longer than the scheduled time, potentially giving you extra time to go through your presentation.
Avoid First Person Language
Using first person language excessively in sales demos can inadvertently shift the focus onto yourself rather than the prospect. Statements like “I love this feature” or “My approach is…” center the attention on the presenter rather than the audience. Using first person language also suggests personal ownership on behalf of the company you work for, which implies that success in this partnership is dependent on you and you alone.
Instead, opt for second person language to put the audience in control and help them envision themselves benefiting from the solution. If multiple personas are involved, clearly indicate who you are referring to and consider customizing the demo to reflect their names or roles. When emphasizing a point, point out that this enthusiasm comes from clients rather than your personal opinions and then explain why the clients are excited about this particular feature.
Engage Silent Participants
They may not feel the need to engage during the presentation, but silent or non-participatory audience members can hold significant influence in the buying process. And what’s more frustrating is they could be silent for a number of reasons that you’re not aware of. Non-participation could indicate boredom, distraction, or a failure on your part to address their priorities.
In an attempt to pull them into the conversation, try to find ways to engage them directly like asking a direct question while using the person’s name. Calling on individuals by their name not only grabs their attention, but signals to the rest of the audience to remain engaged in case they get called on as well. Research shows that our brains are wired to respond to our names, making it an effective technique to build rapport and keep everyone involved.
Quantify Value and Benefits
Focusing on the value and benefits of a product or service is more effective than just highlighting its features and functions, however, simply describing the value and benefits may not be enough to convince the audience. Prospective customers want to know the specifics surrounding a potential impact in order for them to know if a solution will truly fit their needs.
Many Presales demos present one or two case study slides and leave it at that, but that doesn’t paint a detailed enough picture. You need to drive home the magnitude of the impact by providing specific numbers and statistics during the demo. For example, instead of saying “We help you automate your demos,” a more impactful statement would be “With our demo automation software, our clients see an average decrease in the number of unqualified demos by 89%.”
Quantifying the value and benefits not only helps the audience understand the potential impact, but it also increases the urgency for customers to invest in a solution. By clearly articulating how much pain your solution solves, you can convince prospects why they should prioritize your product over other competing initiatives.
Deliver An Effective Wrap
There are three important facts about human memory that every Solution Consultant needs to be aware of.
- Most adults have an attention span of around 20 minutes (this actually decreased by about twelve minutes in the past decade due to our fast-paced lives and reliance on technology).
- Short-term memory can hold up to seven pieces of information at a time, but only for about 20 seconds.
- Working memory, which is a more active version of short-term memory, can only store three to four items at a time.
Now, compare that to what prospects experience in a demo. Your typical demo lasts 30 to 60 minutes and bombards prospects with numerous new pieces of information. To avoid information overload, it’s crucial to reinforce key messages with a detailed summary at the end of the demo to ensure better retention.
You can use your demo agenda slide as a cheat sheet and visual reminder during the recap to ensure you reiterate how your solution addresses the prospect’s key business issues, summarize your key value propositions, and confirm that you’ve met the prospect’s objectives for the meeting. Don’t skip this step even if you’re running out of time.
The information shared in this recap may be the details the audience remembers so limit your content to the most important topics. It’s also a good idea to provide a leave-behind asset such as a recording of the demo or a slide deck for prospects to refer back to and enhance their memory of the meeting.
Adding These Techniques to Your Demos
Improving your demo performance requires a focused and incremental approach. Just like mastering a golf swing, it’s important to work on one aspect at a time until it becomes second nature. Additionally, watching “game tape” by recording and reviewing your demos helps you identify areas for improvement and track your progress.
Then once you have all the techniques down, practice is key. The more you practice, the better prepared you’ll be to execute at a high level during live demos.
Slowly incorporate these strategies into your presentations offering:
- Effective introductions,
- Respecting the audience’s time
- Avoiding first-person language
- Engaging the entire audience
- Quantifying value
- Providing a clear recap at the end
These strategies make you stand out from the majority of demos and deliver compelling and memorable presentations.