At some point in your sales cycle, your prospect wants to see your product in action. This is a very critical step toward closing the sale, because a product demo can make or break a deal.
But how should you start your demo? Too often, a sales engineer just jumps into the water with both feet. Wouldn’t you rather start it like a runner – on the right foot and getting closer to the finish line with every step?
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a clear step-by-step approach that is proven to increase your chances of success?
Five Steps to Start a Successful Product Demos
Step 1 – Verify Time
Time has become the most critical asset in our lives. We have less time to get more done. When you verify the available time for your demo, you show that you value and respect your prospect’s time.
At the very beginning of your meeting, state the time you think you have available. Your audience may guide you to take less time or sometimes even more time. In either case, you have shown that you respect their time.
If you are given less time than you expect, all you need to do is leave out some of the less important features. Focus only on the most important ones. Your demo will most likely become even more effective by cutting it shorter.
Step 2 – Verify Your Prospect’s Requirements
Even though we live in a very competitive world, people don’t make purchase decisions purely on price. They want to purchase from somebody they consider an expert. They do business with people who want to be a partner, not just a supplier.
By verifying your understanding of your prospect’s requirements you show that you seek to thoroughly understand their business. An effective way to do this is to state the business case, followed by “Is that correct and in line with your thinking?” The answer will give you further insight into their specific problems as well as the kind of solution they envision.
If you are not completely sure about their specific requirements, take the time to discover them. It will help you to deliver your demo by showing the audience your product’s most relevant features/functions in line with their needs.
When you verify or discover your prospect’s requirements, they will realize that you are there to show them how your product will solve their needs. They most likely have seen enough canned demos and your approach will be a fresh breath of air for them.
Step 3 – Provide an Outline
Once you are sure of your prospect’s requirements, present the list of topics you plan to cover and the order in which you expect to deliver them. Although this can be presented visually with a slide, in many cases, a verbal outline of the topics is more appropriate. It is less formal and will also get you to the actual demo quicker.
Your audience needs to know what’s coming if they are to follow your demo most effectively.
An outline gives your audience a sense for what you will be covering and it allows them to make room in their brains for the information you plan to provide.
An outline also gives audience members a chance to make sure the topics you plan to cover are well within the scope of what they want covered. You can even give them the opportunity to modify your outline based on their specific needs before the demo begins.
Take as much time as you need with these first three steps. However, you can easily combine the first three steps. For example, you could start out by saying something like, “Thank you for your time this morning. In the next 30 minutes, I am going to show you how my product can help you solve <business issue> by going over X, Y, and Z. Does that meet with your expectations today?”
Step 4 – Make a Big Statement to Position Your Product
This step is your first chance to make a big statement about your company and product. This is where you give your audience your main value proposition and a sentence or two about your company and how your products will solve their problems.
Step 4 is the place where you set the stage for the rest of the demo.
What you say in Step 4 should raise their eyebrows and give the audience reason to pay close attention to you and even start taking notes.
This step is sometimes difficult or even hard for people who give demos. You can usually get the value proposition statements from the sales and marketing people in your organization. Then, you can tie in the product or service and the needs of the audience to make these statements.
”We make Google a better Google!” “We are the WebMD of education.” or “Our device is going where no computer has ever gone before.” Making big statements like these will cause your audience to position your product properly in their minds.
Step 5 – Show the Key Benefit First
One of the most powerful things you can do in your demo is to cover the key benefit of your product first. What is the number one benefit your customers get by using your product? Don’t talk about it; show it!
Don’t make people wait for the best.
When you show the audience how your product can solve their main issue first, you will see a dramatic change in how your audience receives your demo. You will probably even see more interactions between audience members because you have just shown them how to solve their biggest challenge.
Too many people like to save the best for last. This can be problematic because by the end of your demo, several important audience members may have already left the room or their minds are wandering to other things. By leaving the best for last, you risk completely missing the opportunity to convince your audience that your product is exactly what it needs.
Follow these five steps get started and you will be well off to deliver a compelling and successful product demo. The rest will fall into place much easier.
The above five steps are part of the 7-Step Demo Formula outlined in the book Giving Memorable Product Demos.