What Most Sales People Do In The Demo That Loses The Deal | A Sales Guy's Sales Blog Copy & Close
November 25, 2014 Keenan

What Most Sales People Do In The Demo That Loses The Deal

In the world of SaaS and cloud solutions, the demo is everything. As the demo goes, so goes the sale. Give a shitty demo, and you’re not gonna get the sale. Give a good demo, and you’ve just increased the chances closing the deal. Give a killer demo and get ready to cash your fat commission check and prepare for Presidents Club.

With the demo carrying so much weight in the sale, treating them as a way to highlight every feature your product or solution has is stupid, annoying, unnecessary, boring, and unsophisticated. That is how too may sales people treat them. And, managers take note, how too many managers and sales organizations teach sales people to do them.

Here’s the ONLY way to do a demo. Pay VERY close attention. This isn’t a suggestion. This isn’t an ideology. This isn’t one person’s thoughts. This is the concrete, irrefutable, only way to do demos and if you’re not doing it this way, you’re doing it WRONG!!!

Listen up;

When doing a demo, every feature you show must be tied to a specific business goal, operational process, work-flow, execution issue or opportunity that specific customer has — PERIOD!

In other words; if you’re showing a feature and are saying; “If you email your clients for meetings then this feature will . . .” or “If you have two systems for doing reports, this reporting feature will . . . ” Or worse, if you just whipping features around like they are cars on a car showroom floor by saying “And the next thing I want to show you is.” You are doing it wrong — very wrong!

There is no room for “if” in your demos. There is no excuse to show a feature that isn’t germane to the specific the business and highly targeted to the operational or executional needs of the buyer. Demos should not be used to demonstrate your product, but rather to show how your product can affect your buyer’s business. Demos need to be used to give the buyer a vision of how your product will change their current environment for the better. Demos should be used to show the client how what they are doing today can be done differently with your product. The buyer should feel silly, outmoded and inefficient as you seamlessly execute a process they are currently doing poorly. They should bubble with joy as you demonstrate how your product can execute brilliantly on a process they can’t currently do, something they have wanted to do for a long time. Your demo should be enveloping them in the power of your product changing their specific and unique environment for the better, not in features and functions that may or may not be relevant to them.

This is how a demo should go.

“You stated you use three systems for reporting, let me show you how reporting is done with our product and how it would create reports in your environment in a tenth of the time.”

“I know that being able to track email response is important to you, let me show you how you will be able to track responses faster with our solution and how you will also be able to . . . ”

“Understanding that you’re trying to increase revenue by 15% this year through your existing client base, let me show you how we can make that happen with the. . . feature”

“I recall you were saying you’re struggling with getting (insert customer problem), let me show you this feature. It is designed to do exactly what you said you were looking to do as well as. . . ”

The key to a successful demo is to make sure every feature, every function you demonstrate is attached to your buyer’s unique problems and challenges. If it’s not, your not giving a good demo. You’re wasting everyone’s time.

Demos are not meant to be product highlights or product showcases. Good demos demonstrate how problems will be solved and how opportunities will be leveraged. Good demos temporarily and virtually insert the seller’s product into the buyer’s world. They are like digital or virtual changing rooms where the buyer can see how everything fits.

Good demos let the buyer try on your product for fit. Like a changing room, the buyer wants to see how your product fits their unique body type, curves, and all.

Give your buyers a virtual changing room. Structure and deliver your demos like changing rooms where they can see themselves in your product. Attach every feature and function you demonstrate to their unique environment so they can see how it fits. Don’t show features that you can’t attach to their business. Don’t ever, ever, ever say, “If you. . . then this feature will. . . ” There is no room for “if then” statements in demos. Don’t show a feature unless you know exactly how and why it is germane to your buyer.

Demos are not spectator events or shows where the buyer is a participant on the sideline. They are meant to be interactive, virtual tours that put the buyer in the product, allowing them to see how it fits on them. Anything else is a waste of everyone’s time.

Stop wasting time!


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  • Peter Østergaard

    And please make the demo very simple. Product oriented sales people often take a lot of product features as common knowledge or granted by the audience and hence looses the audience during the demo.

  • Great point Peter

  • Dan02155

    What good sales person would EVER want to make a buyer feel silly??? That is completely and uterrly BAD BUSINESS.

  • Matt Gambino

    Keenan, fantastic post. I suggest that you begin each business-connected-capability (capability, not feature!) with the finished end-result, then show them how you got there. So instead of ‘I understand email response tracking is important to you, let me show you how you will be able to…,’ try ‘Take a look at the up-to-the-second response graphic on the report behind me. What if you could run this in less than 3 clicks at any time? Let’s take a look how to do it.’

    Start with the end-result to really build vision. Then, show how easy your solution makes it to get there. Learn more in my free ebook, Five Ways to Rescue Your EdTech Product Demo.

  • Joshua Tanzola

    Great article Keenan, thank you. We were discussing this as an organization today. Often times there is too much information, that’s what the website and 101 videos are for, not the demo. Keep it simple and show the value, how it correlates with your clients pain points and needs.

  • You got it Josh, thanks for sharing ALL over social media!

  • Brad_Lyon

    Keenan. I agree with most of this post and have suffered through numerous presentations and demos that were not tailored enough to value the prospect’s time, and subsequently did not move a sale forward (or just ended the process). To challenge the absolute message here; there are times when you are attempting to offer revolutionary change and a new direction for an organization when it is critical to paint the Vision of a new process or work method. The best way to paint this picture so the prospect can “get it” is by using the concrete example of your product in action. Vision cases are when the prospect is stuck and can not see the new way to work, usually when your product is very new and you are selling to the first bowling pins across the chasm. The initial 2 types of early adopters will also need demos, but they will drive the content for you with little prompting so the demo preparation must pivot and be reengineered with focus to help you cross the chasm. Great Demos and Great Demo delivering team members are one of the most valuable parts of the organization, but without significant communication and preparation before the demo it can be just a waste of time.