How to Give a Killer Product Demonstration

Want to close more business? Then start using customized product demonstrations to close your deals. Unfortunately, some sales pros view product demos as just another part of their sales process. Ideally, though, a product demonstration needn’t just help a sale along. It can, in fact, actually close the deal. Are you ready to close your sales more quickly than you ever thought possible?

A product demonstration does more than just prove that the product exists and that it works as you say it does. When done correctly, a product demonstration allows the prospect to see feel, at a gut level, how things will be different after they’ve bought the product. A product demonstration captures the imagination and holds it. Ideally, it makes the very idea of not-buying into a sad state of affairs. Because of this, the idea of a “one size fits all” demonstration is completely ridiculous. Because every prospect is unique, every demonstration must be uniquely matched to that prospect.

And that means research.

Before crafting a demonstration for your audience, you need to know what motivates the prospect, what keeps them up at night, what they hope to accomplish, what they feel they must avoid.

So, get on the Internet, use your network of contacts, and use your sales skills to discover what will motivate this individual prospect to buy.

Only when you’ve got a clear picture of the prospect, should you proceed to to telling your story.


Create a Compelling Story

A product demonstration always tells a story, using the product as the visual hook that makes the story real.

The story that you tell is the prospect’s story, with the prospect as the hero who must overcome an obstacle in order to achieve a goal. In your demonstration, the product is the “magic sword” that helps the prospect, the key element that makes the prospect’s success possible.

The perfect product demonstration also frames that story in a way that makes sense, not just to the prospect’s business, but to the individual goals and desires of the person or person viewing the demonstration.

A perfect demonstration is all about how the prospect’s story will change once that prospect has become a customer. Your demonstration should have a script that touches on ALL the major hot buttons for the individual prospect.


STEP #3: Rehearse and integrate your product presentation with your presentation

Giving a perfect demonstration is three times harder than giving a perfect sales presentation. Why? Because with a demonstration, you must simultaneously focus on the prospect, the effect the demonstration is having on the prospect, and the mechanics of the demonstration.

Man alive, you’d be amazed how many sales reps think that they can wing it when it comes to demonstrations. The result is almost always a disaster.

Use the rehearsal process to tune up your overall message and make the demonstration more effective. As you rehearse, here are some rules to keep in mind.

Rule #1: Never show a meaningless feature. Every feature you demonstrate must be tied directly to a prospect’s problem or opportunity.

Rule #2: A prefect demonstration tells a story, with a beginning, middle and end. The prospect should be the hero, not you, and not your firm.

Rule #3: Use the demo as a proof. Some prospects are disposed to think of reasons not to buy rather than reasons to buy. A good demonstration “proves” your sales claims are true.

Rule #4: KISS – the old Keep it Simple, Stupid. Find an appropriate goal (like “show the CFO why the ROI claims are true”). Achieve that and forget about the rest of stuff the product does.

Rule #5. Edit your script. The “talking” part of your demo must accommodate the rhythm of the product. If it takes ten seconds to execute a feature, you must fill that time with appropriate patter.

Rule #6: Pace yourself. A perfect product demonstration should be seamless, without long pauses and dead spots.

Rule #7: Avoid techie-talk. Even if the audience is technically oriented, don’t get too deeply into HOW the product works. Focus on what it does for the prospect.

Rule #8: Avoid phrases like “best in class”, “robust”, “bleeding edge” etc.

Once you’ve rehearsed at least three times, and know exactly what to say, you’re ALMOST to the point where you can present the demonstration. However, you must still…


STEP #4: Let the Prospect Lead

You’ve laid the groundwork for a perfect product demonstration. Now it’s time to deliver the goods.

The trick to giving a perfect demonstration is to draw the prospect in, and let the prospect guide the demonstration.

After all, that’s what you want, right? You want the prospect to know what it will feel like after the prospect has actually bought the product.

The reason you prepared multiple scripts — and based them on research — is because now you’re ready to articulately address just about everything that the

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prospect might surface.


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can lead into the demonstration with whatever you think would be of interest, but the purpose of drawing the prospect into the demonstration is so that the prospect takes control.

Some sales pros intuitively understand this, because they’re accustomed to adapting to prospect’s needs and interests.

However, you’d be amazed at how many people are annoyed when a prospect tries to take control of a demonstration. It’s almost as if they’re thinking of it as a dramatic performance and the prospect as an audience member who ought to remain silent.

If you’ve done your research, just about anything the prospect acts will fall naturally into the patterns of the stories that you’ve created. However, now you’re creating the story along with the customer. The more active the participation, the more likely the demonstration will close the deal.

Dave Stein of ES Research pointed out in a comment that “it’s great to have the customer lead, but DON’T let them take you into places in the software you haven’t rehearsed and are very comfortable with. I’d rather say, “Let me show you that on the break,” than have the demonstration blow up or you get lost.”

As you’re demonstrating, frequently test (with neutral questions like “does this make sense?”) to confirm that the demonstration is achieving its goals.

When you sense it’s time to bring the demonstration to a close, it’s on to the most important step…


CLICK for the final step »

STEP #6: Ask for the Business


If a demonstration has gone smoothly, make a final check that the prospect has seen (and experienced) what it would be like to own the product.


If you get anything that looks like a green light, ask for the business.


Seriously, there is no better point in the sales cycle to ask for the business than after you’ve given a solid demonstration.


Because the prospect has participated in an imaginative exercise of using the product as if it were already purchased, the current state of affairs (where the prospect has not yet bought) seems odd and wrong to the prospect.


The only way to make the world “right” again — and to continue to experience the positive feelings associated with using the product is to buy.


And that’s why this is the PERFECT time to close.


CLICK for a summary and additional help »


STEP #1: Research Your Audience

STEP #2: Customize a Compelling Story

STEP #3: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

STEP #4: Test Everything Beforehand

STEP #5: Let the Prospect Lead

STEP #6: Ask for the Business


Closing a deal using a demonstration is a variation of the standard close. It’s therefore useful to understand that process as well. Here’s the post where I describe it:

How to Close a Sale in 6 Easy Steps

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If you’re in software, you might also be interested in this book:

“50 Minutes to Better Software Demos” by Matt Gambino