James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Product Demos

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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Product demos can be a powerful tool in your sales strategy. Unfortunately, many B2B companies are so eager to share their product with a demo that they are susceptible to clichéd nuances and practices that can turn-off their prospects. Steli Efti, co-founder and CEO of Close.io, shared with us his insight into the greatest killers of product demos. If you’re looking to streamline and improve the efficacy of your demos, check out the list below to make sure you’re not committing one of these seven “deadly sins.”

SIN #1: GIVING TOO MANY DEMOS

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

If so, it might be time to re-evaluate what criteria you have, if any, to determine where a demo is best suited.

Part of your sales-vetting process should include understanding your prospective client’s needs:

  • What is the size of this company?
  • Who am I dealing with?  An executive or an account manager?
  • What’s their budget?
  • What products have they used in the past or are currently vetting?

Categorize the company by reviewing their needs and then 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 group 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?

It’s not about blindly denying demos to some prospects and approving others, it’s about respecting everyone’s time and resources–yours included.

SIN #2: NO VALUE PROPOSED IN THE DEMO

You must recognize that there is an opportunity cost to people taking time out of their week to listen to a product demo. It means they are saying no to spending time doing something else in their workflow.

When you neglect to promote the value provided to that prospect in return for their time, you’re missing a key opportunity to set yourself and your product apart.

Get your sales team on board with promoting not only the value a demo can provide (i.e. “It will save you time in determining if our product is right for you.”), but also in promoting the value of the presenter (i.e. “Steli is our co-founder and CEO and wants to personally present our demo to you.”)

You want your prospect to walk away from the encounter understanding that you respect and value their time by offering a tailored demo that will be the best value for them.

SIN #3: USING DEMO AS TRAINING TOOL, NOT SELLING TOOL

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

CLICK TO TWEET

Your demo should exist to tell a brief story about your product and provide an overview of its key features. The focus should be on why your product is better than other competitors.  Keep it brief, simple, and only show what matters to that specific company.

A product demo is meant for selling to prospects; training them on how to use the product is not until they become actual customers.

SIN #4: DEMOS LASTING WAY TOO LONG

Keep your demos short and sharp.  As we already know, you want this potential customer to understand that you value their time and resources.

If you’ve done your research, you already know which key features the company is interested in, and those need to be the ones you share during your demo.

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.

Again, it’s not about showing every feature, it’s about respecting the prospect’s time by providing a product demo customized to their wants and needs.

SIN #5: FOCUSING ON FEATURES INSTEAD OF VALUE

No matter how revolutionary your product is, your features are not going to be your biggest selling point. Your biggest selling point is the value your product creates for your prospect.

Getting too caught up in the detailed features is going to leave you and your audience exhausted and feeling like they’ve sat through systems training.  Keep the feature portion of your demo to 15 minutes and spend the rest of the time selling your audience on the unique and unrivaled value your product will bring them.

SIN #6: NOT CAPTURING AUDIENCE ATTENTION

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

It’s fine, it’s expected, and it’s normal in a workplace filled with constant Outlook notifications and Slack reminders.  Learn how to grab the audience’s attention and engage them on your terms.

When you have a really important point or feature you want the whole room to know about, highlight it using simple language.  

For instance, you could try saying “And now, THIS is the most important part of the demo I’m giving you today.”  This gives people in the room time to look up from the email they’ve been composing or to turn off their iPhone before explaining an important part of your product.

SIN #7: NO CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION AT END OF DEMO

Don’t forget to seal the deal!

Don’t end the demo with a question mark– go for the close or clearly state what the next step will be.  Open your laptop and send a meeting invite with everyone still in the room.  It’s not pushy, it’s providing a clear end and projecting your confidence that the product presented is their logical choice. Don’t end your demo with a question mark – present a clear call-to-action.

CLICK TO TWEET

CONCLUSION

From overindulging in detail to omitting value-driven content, there are a variety of ways you could be setting yourself up for loss during a product demo.

First of all, know your audience.  Second, make sure they understand why your product is their best option without drowning them in feature-heavy demos.  Lastly, show you value their time and your resources by tailoring a demo suited to their needs, with a clear call to action at the end.

This post is based on an interview with Steli Efti from Close IO.

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.

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