Attention is the new currency in technical sales demos. Potential buyers are constantly bombarded with information, so it’s important to keep their attention. Good presales demos should be a blend of entertaining, engaging, and educational.
Steve Winward stressed the importance of employing all three of these techniques in his DEMOFEST 2023 presentation “What Makes a Technical Sales Presentation Great.” If you rely too heavily on one element, you risk your presentation sounding stale.
Steve says, “You can’t assume that if you get a conversation booked with a customer that you have their full attention for the entire 60 minutes, you need to earn it every single minute and keep it entertaining, keep it engaging, and keep it educational for them to want to continue to watch.”
Make Your Demos a Melody
Think about your demo like a piece of music. If you just play the same note over and over again, people will tune out. It’s when you vary the notes that you create a melody that people want to listen to.
The same is true for technical sales presentations. If you deliver a list of features and benefits of your product, people will likely get bored and tune out. You’ll be more likely to keep their attention and ultimately win their business if you weave your presentation into a story, use visuals to illustrate your points, and ask questions.
While potential customers are looking for technical information from you as a solution consultant, they are still human and only have a certain amount of attention span. Not only will presenting information in an entertaining way keep the buyers focused, it will also help them retain the information better.
There are many ways you can entertain your audience:
- Use stories. Stories, especially personal ones, are a great way to engage and entertain your audience. They help you to connect with your audience on a personal level and help your audience retain your main points better.
- Be passionate. Passion is contagious. Let your passion show through in your presentation.
- Be funny. A little bit of humor can go a long way, so let your comedic side show. Just make sure that your jokes are appropriate for the audience and that they don’t detract from your message.
- Be creative. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your presentation. Experiment with visuals, props, and interactive elements to keep your audience engaged.
Engage With Them
As a solution engineer, you need to engage your audience during your presentation. The best way to do this is by being present, authentic, prepared, and responsive. No matter how prepared you are, it’s important to have a “failure tool belt” for when things don’t go your way. Steve also suggests presales professionals have a “warm up routine” to center and energize them before they begin presenting as not everyone is comfortable performing for a crowd.
The best ways to engage with the audience include:
- Be present. Practice active listening with your audience, especially if this is a virtual demo through a presales platform. This means paying attention to what the audience is saying and asking questions to clarify their understanding.
- Be authentic and genuine. You should be yourselves and not try to be someone you’re not. This will help you build trust with your audience.
- Be prepared. Even experienced solution architects should practice their presentations and have a plan in case something goes wrong. This will help your audience feel more confident in your abilities.
- Be responsive. You should be responsive to questions and feedback from your audience. This will indicate to your audience you’re actually interested in what they have to say.
- Engage directly with your audience. Ask questions, poll the audience, or have them participate in an activity. This will help to keep them engaged and involved in your presentation.
- End with a call to action. Tell your audience what the next steps are after this meeting. This is buyer enablement principle number one and will guide your audience through the buying process faster.
We saved this concept for last since most sales engineers have the most experience educating the buying group. The most difficult part of this method is making your message simple enough that everyone attending understands the complex concepts you’re sharing. You should also personalize the message to the specific audience you’re presenting to. It might require some patience, but be respectful of customer questions and concerns.
Use these methods to educate your audience:
- Simplify difficult concepts. Ensure your message is simple enough that all your customers easily understand it. This means using clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon, and providing visual aids to help illustrate their points.
- Contextualize your solution. Contextualize your message by illustrating how the features fit into the overall solution. This will help customers understand how the solution can address their specific needs. This is especially effective if you relate it to the pain points your customers are experiencing.
- Personalize your message for this audience. Center the message around the audience you’re speaking to and the problems they face at their organization. Use examples that apply to this buyer’s industry and center information around how your solution helps.
- Use the proper medium. Choose the right medium for your presentation. Will this meeting be in-person or virtual? Are you going to use powerpoint slides or have a static background? Are you using presales software during the presentation or sending an interactive video demo after? Know how you’re presenting ahead of time so you can practice.
Delivering an effective technical sales presentation doesn’t happen instantly. It takes intentional improvement over time to become an expert. Don’t get hung up on chasing the perfect demo, though.
We’d all like to be good enough at our jobs that we’d never make any mistakes, but that’s not possible. Instead, focus on delivering engaging, entertaining, and educational presentations tailored to your audience.