The devil is in the demo

The devil is in the demo

You own it: great product, great service, great price. You venture out, get into contact with a prospect, get them to see your product and then… it’s all ruined with the demo. And often you think “it wasn’t that bad” or even “you got your best guy to do it”.

Supporting customers into their vendor selection processes I’ve seen it all; failing technology, the technical monologue, the self-oriented sales representative and the cringeworthy attempt to rescue whats beyond rescue. And it all sounds so simple: “just show them what we got”. But the devil is in the demo, make it look simple and give it all.

Doing a professional demo will require preparation and investment but its worth your effort because the demo will make or break the deal. You don’t buy a car without test driving it, do you? A prospect will not only evaluate functionality and performance but they will also evaluate you as a potential (long term) partner. So during the demo you have to make sure that you leave a lasting impression. So, how to avoid the pitfalls and prepare yourself to make that deal with the demo.

Know your prospect and their business. It sound silly to even mention it but a short visit to the website of your potential customer, view the social media pages of the people you meet and reading some press releases can make a huge difference. It will help you to understand your audience. Your story needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of your prospect and their background will help you to find the right tone of voice.

Setup a full demo environment. It will probably require some time investment but having a full demo environment that fully works and is up to date will make your demo run smoothly. It can be re-used and it allows you to show all the great features of your product. No need to switch between accounts to show that particular piece, no need to do a nervous search to make a sales rescue, and no compromising content.

Follow the path. Have a step by step process to walk through all aspects of your product and be sure that this process is related to your prospects process. Logical steps that resonate to your audience will increase the ability of your audience to understand your product. A technological highlight is not what people need, they need a solution to their problem. Try to avoid too much technical talk and stay on the process path.

Its not about you or your prospect but about the user. Your audience most likely is not target audience of your product. Procurement, consultants, project managers and business analysts will represent a user community. They know the user very well (or at least they should) so keep that in mind when you are doing your demo. How will your solution help the end-user and how will it make your demo audience successful?

It never hurts to ask. When you prepare for a demo session (yes, you should prepare every-time) it can help to ask your prospect what they are expecting to see. Are their specific areas of interest, do they have real-life examples for you to incorporate into your demo and are there certain things that do not apply so they can be left out. Customisation in your preparation will increase the adoption to your story.

Do a language course. Working in a global environment means different accents, different pronunciations and sometimes even the use of non-existing English. This can cause hilarious situations but also confusion. You’re never too old to learn and a short course can do wonders in your demo and your communications.

Neat and tidy. Looking good yourself in a cool outfit is great and necessary but if a desktop is cluttered with files, you have your holiday pictures as a screensaver and example files which are all x-rated you probably do not leave a very good first impression. Clean up, be professional and require your private life to remain private. You represent a brand and the brand values are what you want to relay to your prospect.

Make the technology work. Unfortunately the network performance is still something controlled by unseen IT professionals. Often guest WiFi or conference WiFi does not work as it should. If you are relying on an online connection make sure that you bring your own or that your demo can also work off-line. The performance during a demo is considered in the decision-making. It might not be the real performance but you cannot correct the perception once your demo is completed.

Doing a demo can be fun, it can really make a difference in the purchase decision and positive feedback can boost your day. Prepare, care and go for it!

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