How to Avoid Bad Sales Demos by Using Old School Wisdom



howtoavoidThink back to when you were a fourth or fifth grader and assigned your very first solo presentation. You got an adrenaline rush just thinking about doing that presentation due in two weeks. The dread of doing it consumed your thoughts for the rest of the day. How were you ever going to live through this?!

Was that just me who thought like that?

In any case, all good presentations require preparation. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who are successful at winging it – your “preparation” just came in a different form. A sales demo is definitely not the same as a fourth grade presentation on your official state animal, but it’s important to realize that you’ve been doing presentations since you were a wee lad/las. Basically, you’ve had decades of prepping on how to present.

But do you feel like those decades of prepping aren’t shining through during your sales demos? How do you change that? By thinking about a little wisdom that Mrs. Smith might’ve taught you back in the day. Let’s walk through some of the worst demo presentation mistakes and how to avoid them:


What it looks like in fourth grade: You race through your note cards or whatever notes are stored in your brain, and it feels like forever. Little do you know, you just finished your presentation in a matter of 48 seconds and the class looks very confused.

Sales demo: When you’re nervous, or just know the material so incredibly well, you could end up talking too fast or whipping through the presentation. People forget that they’re explaining a potentially foreign concept to prospects (especially for SaaS products that can be harder to visualize). Think about what it took for you to fully wrap your head around your product, and try going at that pace when explaining it to the prospect. In a sales demo, the goal is not to impress them with your knowledge of the product. It’s to impress them with your understanding of their needs.

Try not to mix up explaining every technical detail as a way of “being thorough” – those details are irrelevant and draining to hear for the prospect. Focus on the big picture of why people use your product and use easy-to-understand words to explain it. Most importantly – show them your product! As Michael Arrington of CrunchFund writes, “Show your product within the first 60 seconds. The longer it takes for you to show your product, the worse your product is. Folks with killer products can’t WAIT to show you their products.”


What it looks like in fourth grade: You’re standing up at the whiteboard with your poster board display, eyes down at your feet, speaking just loud enough for the front row to hear.

Sales demo: The most fascinating thing about body language (to me) is that we’re reading it constantly and not even realizing we’re learning from it. Body language goes both ways: you need to be conscious of both your’s and your prospect’s. Whether it’s an in-person, Skype, or video product demo, be aware of your:

  • Eye contact – are you making it with all your prospects throughout the meeting? Are they avoiding making eye contact with you? Are they looking at eachother throughout?

  • Posture/Stance – are you slouching? Do you have your back to one of your prospects? Does your prospect have their back to you? Do they have their back to their fellow prospect?

  • Hand gesture – Are you stiff as a board while talking? Are you flinging your hands so aggressively you almost took an eye out? Hand gestures are a natural way to add personality to a presentation. It heightens the viewer’s awareness because they have something visual to focus on that keeps changing. It adds excitement, and as Louie Bernstein Izenda writes, “excitement is contagious. In sales you need to be the one to start the excitement. But it has to be genuine.”

  • SMILE – For the love of Pete, at least have a pleasant look on your face! Like excitement, smiling has actually been scientifically shown to be contagious. Take note about next time you smile at someone, or they smile at you – what’s the natural instinct of response?

Body language is a subtle but extremely powerful factor in building relationships. It’s the difference between a prospect walking away saying “for some reason that girl/guy rubbed me the wrong way” or “wow, that girl/guy seems like the type I’d want to work with”. We often focus so much on how we don’t want to act, that we end up acting exactly like that. But try following the tips above and being more mindful during a presentation.

For more great content, try:

11 tips on delivering a memorable b2b product demo



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