Demonstrations are by far my favorite part of the sales process. As a kid growing up my grandparents actually used to have me do demonstrations at the flea market where they worked.
Demonstrations are a great opportunity to show not only how your solution can solve a potential customer’s problem, it’s also a great chance to reinforce how passionate you are about your solution and what it does for your customers. At their best, demos give prospects the chance to see not only how your product works but also how it can provide real value to their organization.
That being said, there is absolutely NOTHING worse than a boring demonstration. Watching someone’s screen as they listlessly click through a list of features you don’t care about (“It also comes in blue.” “I hate blue.” “…well then we can also make it come in not-blue.”) is one of the worst experiences a potential buyer can endure.
In my time at Backupify I’ve come up with a few general rules about what helps a demonstration really connect with a customer.
1. Ask the prospect what they want to see
You’d be amazed at how much a prospect likes being asked what they want — and shocked at how few salespeople do it. Simply dropping an e-mail the day before saying, “Hi, I’m really looking forward to our demonstration tomorrow. If there’s anything you especially want to see or learn more about, please let me know.” Asking this question not only makes sure the sales prospect is engaged and excited about your demo, it also gives you an opportunity to dig into these requests to better understand their pain points (“I see you’re interested in our local export feature, can you tell me why that would be important for you?”) and puts you in a better position to address those needs later on.
2. Lead with your “WOW!” moments
Every product has a WOW moment. Most have several. They’re the things that make your customers recommend your product, that make them write you notes about how much you’ve helped them. It’s our natural inclination to save these until the close of the sales demo, to really end on a high note.
Start with the WOW moments. Show your prospects the things that are going to get them excited about your product. Bringing these up in the beginning is good for several reasons. It shows them the value in your product early, when they’re still paying attention. It gets them excited about your product and will get them to engage with your demonstration. Getting your prospects excited will make them responsive to you, which in turn will get YOU pumped up about how your solution is going to solve their problem.
3. Tell a story
People love stories — way more than they love lists of features. It’s why we read books instead of outlines. Being able to pull together your WOW moments into a narrative will not only help you keep your prospect engaged throughout the demo, it also allows them to better understand how they would use your product and what kind of real-life problems it would solve. It’s one thing to hear about searching and restoring documents. It’s another thing to hear about an important sales presentation that was accidentally deleted and needs to be recovered for a meeting in the next 10 minutes. When you give people a story about why your product is valuable you let them build their own stories about why they need your solution.
4. Show AND Tell
It’s important during a demo to not only show what your product can do but also why it does that. Framing your demo in the context of a story can help, but make sure whenever you show off a feature make sure that you talk about the attached benefit. That way, “We can offer a local export of your Google Apps data” becomes “When a user leaves your domain you don’t have to pay for the Google Apps license to keep the data.” “You can search through your backups” becomes “You don’t have to spend hours navigating through all of your documents, you can search and restore the document in a few minutes.” Prospects want to understand not only what your product does but also how it can help them. Remember: You’re providing a solution to a problem, prospects want to know HOW you’re going solve that problem.
5. Make every demo feel like your third demo
Your first demo is always shaky because you’re new to the process. The second one is better but you’re still working out the kinks. The third demo is where you nail it. Not only do you have all the kinks worked out but you’re so excited because it’s new and fun and you’re killing it in front of a real live prospect. Make every demo feel like that. Prospects want to know you’re enthusiastic about your product. One of the reasons I love working at Backupify is because it’s a great product, I’m excited about using it every time I do a demo. Enthusiasm is infectious; if you show that you love your product it’s a lot easier to explain to your prospects why they should love it too. Be excited about your demo, change things you don’t feel are working and be conscious of the parts you really enjoy. Remember: there are no small parts, only small salespeople.