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  • Writer's pictureMichael Clements

Top 4 Tips to Perform a High-Conversion Demo

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

Many sales reps tend to conduct feature and function-based demos. If you find yourself showing feature after feature for 45-60 minutes you may be leaving prospects unclear about how your product helps solve their real business problems. And potentially, losing deals to the competition who do so.

The reason is, feature and function presentations tend to focus on the how and what of your products capabilities, but does not get deep enough into your prospects pain to explain how your product or service helps solve their business problem. You, of course, understand your offer from working with dozens or hundreds of other companies like them, and have an idea how all the dots connect and what nuances your product or service brings to the table. That said, this still leaves us far from a signed deal. Think about the fact your solution/offer has dozens of features. Only a handful of these may apply to their business needs so why present feature after feature hoping for something to stick? If you were in your prospects shoes you would very well be thinking "this doesn't even apply to me, what is he/she talking about?" We need to get clear and concise on what the prospect's problems are, in detail. Once we understand their obstacles or the opportunities they have, we can tailor to that and build a compelling case how you can help them mitigate or solve it through your offer.

1) Customization of the demo

Problem: Generic presentations get generic results. A sales manager early in my career said "if your demo is not tailored to the company you are presenting to, through detailed preparation, research, and discovery, why not just send them a recording?" The truth is, your prospect is not only demoing with you. Companies often require multiple quotes or management may want a comparative analysis before green-lighting a solution. When you take into account the buyers process for selecting a solution, you will realize that the demo is a critical part of the sales process. You typically only get one chance and if there seems to be a product fit, a follow-up call/demo is common. But if you don't knock it out of the park on the first demo; you're usually out of there and good luck with the follow-ups.

Solution: Customize every demo. First, the simple stuff! Be on time, 10-15 minutes before the meeting. Get the Powerpoint setup and demo account ready, so you can flow through the presentation without opening applications. Close any applications not required for the demo. If you use the web, set your screen and browser settings to have the least amount of noise possible (disable bookmark pages, etc.). Throughout the demo, I am particular to where I want their eyes to look. We want to focus their attention to where we want it. Lead the demo with your cursor but also by telling them, i.e., "if you could direct your attention to the middle left of your screen just underneath the blue box," then highlight that area with the mouse. Be direct and clear. Also, some tools help with this, check out some options here:

Another simple way to start strong is to have an ego shot of your prospects logo or something relating to their business on Powerpoint when they log in. It shows you are prepared and have done your research. Although a small detail, it goes a long way. Another thing I do is jot down the names and titles of each individual on the call. This way, you can reference everyone by name and tailor certain sections or features of the presentation to their role in the company. Lastly, out of respect, always ask if they are still good for the planned allotted meeting time.

2) Set an agenda

Problem: not setting an agenda and stating your goals for the call creates anxiety for your prospect. Put yourself in their shoes. They took this meeting, pulled multiple colleagues away from their work to join. If you don’t set an agenda and state your goals they will be thinking: “why am I here?, what is this meeting about?, what are we going to cover today?, how long is this going to take?”. Setting an agenda helps put your prospects at ease. They will know where the demo is going, understand the amount of time for the call, know the stated goals of the call, and will be open to being asked if they want to cover anything else.

My typical demo agenda would sound something like this: "Thank you so much, Jane, for the opportunity to meet with you and your team today. You had mentioned in our previous call Jon and Debby would be joining us, are they there with you now? Great, nice to meet you, Jon and Debby, thanks again for joining today. Is everyone good for about 45 minutes today, no hard stops on the schedule? Ok, great. Jane, we talked about your role leading the sales team, Jon, Debby, what is your role at Company Name (write down for future reference)? Great, thanks. If you are ready to begin, I will layout a quick agenda for the day, and we will make sure this is the best way to use our time."

On PowerPoint, I would typically have their logo front and center, maybe their mission statement underneath. My next slide would be the agenda (example 5-minute intro and agenda confirmation. 25-minutes interactive demonstration. 10-minutes Q+A. 5-minutes next steps and final questions). From there, my next slide would be ‘From our Discovery.’ Here I would list the main points Jane, and I talked about during our discovery. List 3-4 or whatever detail you feel is appropriate. From here, I would confirm this is an appropriate agenda and once approved, start the demonstration. I typically would say, “Jane, Jon, Debby, I like to make these demos super conversational and interactive. We have time allotted for Q+A at the end, but feel free to interrupt anytime with questions, ok?”

It sounds easy, and it is when you are prepared, but the rapport built, respect earned, and general show of professionalism goes a long way for your prospects as you move into the presentation. Lastly, once you complete the demo and Q+A, always finish with next steps. Whether that’s a follow-up call, follow-up demo, RFP (request for proposal), or other - it is not next steps until it is on both of your calendars. This is easier said than done, as typically there are some rebuttals to overcome or follow-ups to administer before getting into the next stage of the sales process. We will talk about rebuttals and follow-up processes in-depth in later blogs, for today, we will focus on the demo.

3) Showing too many features

Problem: showing too many features during the demo can lead to information overload while not focusing enough attention on the critical parts of your offer that bring value.

Solution: focus on the critical features linked to solving problems discussed in the discovery. Leveraging the discovery and executing within the demo is probably the most important thing on this list of tips. If you show up on time, customize the intro slide and set an agenda, but fail to leverage your discovery and tailor the pitch to specific business problems discussed previously; you have a considerable chance of missing the mark. Focus on the top priority business problems and show 5-7 features that help mitigate those problems. If you go beyond showing seven features, you have probably shown too much. The reason is, a business doesn't usually have more than five key issues relating to your product. Don't get lost in the weeds of your offer. Show what matters to them.

4) Use tie-downs to affirm their business problems and your suggested solutions

Problem: Not affirming with the prospect can lead to you think you hit the mark when you missed it.

Solution: Use tie-downs after critical points in the conversation. After the prospect expresses a problem they are trying to solve or explains the current process they use, use what we call a tie-down. Ask something like, "Jane, what I heard from you was X, Y, Z, is that correct? If they say "that's right" then you know you got it. Tie-downs are a great technique to make sure you and the prospect are on the same page. I use them all the time because I want to be aligned. If I don't understand, I ask. After I explain, I want to be sure they received the information how I intended it to be received. If lines of communication were confusing or crossed, no problem, now you know and can get back to clarifying or explaining in other words. Tie downs: simple yet very effective.

I hope these tips help you in your pursuit of sales excellence. Feel free to reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn or contact me directly at 604.999.0724 /


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