How to prepare for giving product demos

by Steli Efti

Getting-Ready1We've already covered how to schedule more demo appointments with qualified prospects. Today we're going to talk about the probably most unglamorous part of giving demos: the nuts and bolts of preparing demos that turn into sales.

Thorough preparation will help you create and deliver effective product demonstrations and improve your close rates.

Know your demo tools

If you're giving remote demos using an online presentation tool, learn how the software works. Use their training materials, read their documentation, do a test demo with a colleague to familiarize yourself with the behavior of the software.

You might think 'Duh, of course!' But attend a couple of live demos; the amount of people who do this for a living and yet can't handle the tools they use professionally is ridiculous.

Here's a couple of things you should do:

  • Try different hardware setups on the client side (e.g. what will your screenshare demonstration look like when the other party views it on a 13-inch notebook screen versus a 27-inch monitor).
  • Is there any lag or delay?
  • If you're giving them remote access to your app, how will the app behave?
  • What's the experience like when using annotations in your screen share software?
  • Is your Desktop clean and tidy or cluttered with personal files?

Hardware

Invest in a good headset. Don't use the built-in microphone in your laptop, a $20 bluetooth thing or even a speakerphone. The internet will screw the audio quality of your call bad enough, so do everything you can to ensure the best sound quality possible on your end.

If your prospect has difficulty understanding what you say, it'll be very hard to hold their attention.

Haven't demoed your product in a while?

If you're not on top of your demo game (or if this is the very first time to ever deliver a demo of this product), then by all means: practice first!

Do a full run of your demo, from A to Z, for a friend or colleague, pretending they're a customer.

Have some lines ready

If there's a technical glitch, the last thing you want to do is think about what to say. That's why it's good to prepare.

If your app suddenly crashes during the demo... what will you say? How will you bridge the time it takes to go up and running again?

crashreaction

If your presentation software suddenly starts lagging because of a slow internet connection, how will you deal with this?

It's good to have a few lines for different scenarios prepared. There's no bonus points for being brilliant on the spot.

If Chris Rock would do demos...

In fact, learn from the best performers in the world and constantly practice. Calibrate which phrasing gets the best audience reaction. Famous stand up comedians like Chris Rock practice their gigs hundreds of times with different audiences to gauge their reactions. They're literally split testing jokes against each other to see which gets the biggest laughs. 

Do the same with your demos: experiment with different ways of presenting certain features and see what gets your prospects excited about your software.

Widgets by Acme Inc.

You're going to use some kind of placeholder data when you're demoing your product. A lot of companies will then use ACME as a company name, John Smith as a customer name and Widget A, Widget B, Widget C as product names. That's a bad idea.

If you can, use the kind of data they would be using. This will help them to mentally make the connection between your product and their actual work routines.

If entering sample data that is customized for each prospect isn't feasible, come up with creative ways how to still make your sample data stand out.

When we're demoing our inside sales software, one of our sample customers is the the Bluth Company (if you're a fan of the show Arrested Development, you'll appreciate that).

In one of the sample email exchanges they're mentioning a Banana stand (which, again, as a fan of Arrested Development will put a smile on your face).

We're referencing different movies and parts of popular culture in our sample data, and it often elicits a laugh or positive response from prospects when they notice one of these references.

So much better than Widget C by ACME. It's one of these little details that shows you care.

Immediately before the demo

Open browser tabs, app windows or pages you'll show your audience during the demo before the demo starts. Have them minimized in the background, so people don't have to watch you navigate to these pages and wait for them to load. That'll save you just a couple of seconds during the demo, but just create a better impression of speed.

(If you always use the same setup, just open all the pages in separate tabs and bookmark all tabs so you can conveniently load them all up in the same order for your demos).

Turn off chat notifications, instant messengers and any other apps that could unexpectedly pop up on the screen and distract your viewers from your demo.

Do you use any browser extensions or toolbars that take up valuable screenspace? Best to launch a new browser without any add-ons and just present in full-screen mode. Minimize visual clutter.

Open an empty text file where you can jot down their questions or notes to yourself during the demo. It's just another way of demonstrating that you're a pro if you already have the window in the background and don't make them wait for an app to start.

Hit the record button!

Being able to replay your live demos and do reviews of what you can do better and what works well is worth pure gold, especially in the early days of giving demos. There's so much to be learned by just reviewing your demos without having to be attentive to your prospect, and you'll get plenty of ideas for improving your demo.

Most web presentation solutions offer you an easy option to record you demo. Just double-check that you've got enough storage space available, as some providers have pretty strict limits.

I'd advise against using a screen-recorder that you've installed on your system. They can really bring system performance down and sometimes there are issues when using them in combination with screensharing software.

But if you do, by all means do a test-run for the same period of time with the same setup you'll use during the demo. You might thinking testing two minutes of screen recording will give you all the insights you need, but 30 minutes into your live demo the software may slow down your system or simply crash.

Have an agenda

Decide in advance what the three things are that you want your demo audience to remember about your product.

I'm sure there's more you will want them to remember, and there definitely will be more that you'll show them. But if you assume that they could remember only three things... what are the three things you'd want your product demo attendees to remember? What are the highlights you want to highlight?

Conclusion

Once you've got a great demo-win rate, you'll be fine without meticulous preparation for your demos. But especially when you're just getting started, being well prepared and familiarizing yourself with the process can give you a big advantage to make you feel more confident and perform professionally.

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How are you preparing yourself to deliver effective product demos? Share in the comments below, we love to hear from you!