Mistakes I've Made When Giving Product Demos

Giving product demos can be the most powerful part of your sales strategy. Unfortunately, many B2B reps are so eager to share a demo of their product, they fail to realize that poor execution of the demo process can actually turn-off their prospects.

Steli Efti, co-founder and CEO of Close.io, shared with us his insights into the top killers of product demos. If you’re looking to improve the effectiveness of your demos, check out the list below to make sure you avoid these seven “deadly sins.”

1. Giving too many demos

Are you handing out product demos like an episode of Oprah’s Favorite Things? “You get a demo! You get a demo! Everybody gets a demo!”

If so, it might be time to re-evaluate your criteria, if any, to determine when and where it is best to show a product demo.

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Part of your sales-vetting process should include understanding your prospective clients and their needs:

  • What is the size of this company? 
  • Who am I dealing with? A manager or end-user?
  • What’s their budget?
  • What products have they used in the past or are currently vetting?
  • What is the best format for them to understand your product’s value?

Once you understand their needs, ask the following questions to determine what kind of demo, if any, is most appropriate:

  1. Is our product suited for this company or would another product meet their needs better?
  2. If our product is appropriate for this company, would a webinar suffice to present the key features to them?
  3. If a webinar is not appropriate, how can we tailor a product demo for this company’s needs?
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It’s not about being stingy with giving demos, it’s about respecting everyone’s time and resources, and setting clear expectations.

2. Not "selling" the value of having the demo

There is an opportunity cost when people take time out of their busy schedules to watch your product demo. Be sure to communicate the value of having the demo call, (i.e. “It will save you time in determining if our product is right for you.”), and the value of the presenter (i.e. “Steli is our co-founder and CEO and wants to personally present our demo to you.”)

If you fail to demonstrate your product’s unique value to their organization during the demo, you’ll have missed out on building an authentic relationship, and missed and opportunity to set your team and product apart.

You want your prospect to walk away from your product demo knowing that you respect and value their time – that you've tailored the content of the demo and chose the presenter that will best help them make an informed purchase decision.

3. Using demos as a training tool, not a selling tool

Steli is quick to point out that “a product demo is a sales tool, not a training tool.” 

Your demo should tell your product’s story and provide an overview of its key features. The focus should be on the advantages your product has over other competitors. Keep it brief, simple, and only show what matters to that specific company, and prospect.

A product demo is meant for selling your product to prospects, and getting them to envision themselves using and adopting your product. Leave the training for once they become customers.

4. Demos lasting way too long

You want your prospect to feel that you value their time and resources – keep your demos brief and highly customized.

You should understand the company’s current workflow and which key features they’ll want to see. Those are the only features you should be showing in your product demo. Showing all your features will overwhelm your prospect and take time away from talking about the features that matter most to them.

Be mindful that your prospect will have to sell your product to their team or manager without you present. You need them to walk away from your demo able to clearly communicate your product’s value to the rest of their team. 

Steli says no product demo needs to last more than 30 minutes. Spend 15 minutes (maximum) highlighting the most valuable features and 15 minutes for Q&A.

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Again, it’s not about showing every feature, it’s about respecting the prospect’s time by giving a demo showing how your product will greatly improve their daily lives.

5. FOCUSING ON FEATURES INSTEAD OF VALUE

This sin title is in all caps for a reason. No matter how revolutionary your product is, your features are not going to be your biggest selling point. Your biggest selling point will be how your product can improve their current workflow and advance their professional career.

Getting too caught up in technical details is going to leave you and your audience exhausted, and your product will feel overly complicated. 

Keep the feature portion of your demo under 15 minutes, and your prospects engaged by asking questions to understand what goals they want to achieve with your product. To build a relationship with your prospects, you have to build trust. To build trust you have to first understand their needs, and then clearly communicate how your product can meet those needs.

6. Not capturing the audience's attention

The average attention span of your audience will be about  8 seconds (compared with 9 for the average goldfish), so you can be sure that you’re going to lose them at some point during your demo.

It’s fine, it’s expected, and it’s normal. 

Learn to grab your audience’s attention and engage them throughout your demo. When it’s time to highlight an important feature, stick to using simple language to get their attention.

For instance, “And now, THIS is the most important part of the demo.” This gives people in the room time to look up from whatever they were distracted with to actually pay attention.

7. No clear call to action at the end of the demo

Don’t forget to seal the deal!

Don’t end the demo with a question mark– go for the close and schedule the next steps. Open your laptop and send the next meeting invite while everyone is still in the room. It’s not pushy, it’s projecting confidence that your product is their best solution, and you’re determined to go through all of the hoops to prove it.

Don’t end your demo with a question mark – present a clear call-to-action.

Conclusion

There are a variety of ways you could set yourself up for loss during a product demo. So if you can’t remember all 7 “deadly sins,” just remember the following three when scheduling your next product demo:

First, know your audience and understand their goals and needs, and map out how your product is the best solution.

Second, build trust with your prospects by keeping your demo under 30 minutes and only showing them what they need to see, not everything the product can do. 

Lastly, make sure they walk away understanding why your product is the best option, and can easily communicate that to the rest of their team.