The Sales Experience

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The Sales Experience: A Day in the Life - 10 + Tips for How to Demo

January 15, 2015

Scott Williamson shares 10+ tips about how to prepare and get the most out of your demos.


You know I just finished a very tough, but rewarding day. I conducted demos all day long. Some in person, and some remote. And the good things is, they all went really, really well.

So before I finish my day, get a big bowl of ice cream and sit down and watch Seinfeld re-runs, I’m going to share with you some of the tips that we have in our Revenade Sales Playbook that allow us to conduct excellent downloads.

The first is to make sure that you have an agenda that is established well in advance of the meeting. Make sure you sit down with your client or multiple client, prospect-type personnel and hash out an agenda that’s going to meet all of their needs. But don’t forget to consider your needs. A demo is a very significant investment of your time. You need to make sure that that time is being used wisely. You’re building credibility with your client, but you’re also hoping to learn something in that process and move the sale to the next step.

Now, the next thing that you’re trying to do is make sure that you have information on all of the attendees who are going to be in the meeting. Those attendees have titles, they have roles, they have expectations. Do your homework well in advance, get information off of Google, get information off of LinkedIn, off of Facebook—wherever you can find it on the internet. But also, don’t be afraid to just ask your prospect about the people who are going to be in the room. What are they expecting? What are their likes? What are the things they don’t like? And try and find out as much about those people as you can before you get into that meeting. 

Now the third thing is to confirm technology. And again, this is a really basic thing, I can’t tell you how many demos I’ve been on where the person who’s conducting the demo didn’t do his or her homework in advance and shows up with a laptop or a computer that’s VGA and they only connection they have in the room is HDMI. Make sure that you understand in advance what projection device is going to be there. What the resolution on the monitor is going to be or the projection device. That you have the correct connection cables and so forth. If it’s a web demo, make sure that you understand that you have a conference line that everybody can dial into and that there’s not some kind of limit on the line itself.

The fourth thing is when you’re actually conducting the demo and you’re kicking the demo off, this is your opportunity. You’re the master of ceremonies. You have the ability to set the stage and make sure that everything is going to go according to your plan that you’ve agreed to with your client prospect.

So, recap the agenda. Do introductions. And this is a great opportunity for you to go back and confirm with each person in the room, I heard, Sam, that you are looking for this? Sally, I heard that you want to see these types of features? And here’s the time that we have allocated. We’ll go through this, we’ll take questions during the demo, we’ll take questions at the end—however you want to run it, you set the guidelines at the beginning of the demo itself. 

Next, or fifth tip, is make sure you’re making eye contact with the people in the room. Don’t demo by looking all over the place, look at the people you’re demo-ing. Yes, obviously you need to look at the machine where your software is running. Or if you are running where the software is being projected on a big screen on the wall, you might have to look at that. But they’re there not just to see your product, they’re there to see you. So make sure that you are letting them see you and that you are looking at them to gauge their reactions to various functions and features that you are showing them throughout that demonstration.


The sixth thing, is if you are remote, you have to engage the people in the room. Okay? They’re probably dialed in from a conference room or you’ve got some in a conference room, some on the phones spread throughout the country. Maybe somebody is working out of their house, whatever the case might be, it’s very easy to lose your audience when you’re doing a remote demo.

You’re clicking away, you’re showing functions and features. You think you are maestro. You think you’re some sort of magical music conductor and their falling asleep, or they’re on the internet. So ask them questions throughout that process. Make sure that you’re confirming that they understand what you’re showing them. Don’t just say do you have any questions, ask them specifically something about what you just showed them and say, Frank, I understand coming into this meeting you wanted to see the following three things. I just showed you one of those things. What comments do you have for me about that feature and can you see that working in your business process today? Frank, can’t just say, I don’t have any questions. Frank all of a sudden is now put on the spot and he has to answer you and he has to stay engaged. And because you did that to Frank, Frank is—I guarantee you is going to be engaged throughout the rest of that demonstration.

Now next, number seven in our list of tips here, is do the same thing when you are in person. Just because you are in front of people and they’re nodding away, as people are prone to do. Don’t assume that they are actually engaged. It’s amazing how often somebody can look like they are engaged when they’re not engaged. So ask them the same questions in person that you would remote.

Now, the eighth thing that you want to do, and I find myself doing this all the time. In fact I’m probably doing it today, avoid using minimizing words. Filler words. Uh, um, so, well, kinda, sorta—what do those words mean? Those words mean nothing. Or those words mean no. Scott, can your software do the following things? Well, yeah it can kind of do that by doing this—no, that means no. Tell them, yes, absolutely, our software can do that.

The ninth thing that you want to think of as you’re going through these types of demos is handle questions with questions. Now, there are times, if somebody asks you a yes/no question, and you understand what they are asking you and you have a good answer, the answer is yes. But if they ask you a long detailed question or very short question and you don’t know the answer, or certainly you don’t understand what they’re saying, make sure that you ask them a question about what they just asked you. That’s okay. You can say things like, I’m not really sure I understand what you’re getting at, can you provide me a little more detail.

You can also ask questions about the questions to understand what they’re really getting at. Sometimes people will ask a question and what they’re looking for is not the immediate answer. They’re looking for what comes after that. And so you have the opportunity to say, I think I understand your question. But before I give you a full answer, what’s driving that question because I want to make sure I understand the full context of that question. So it’s another way for you to engage with your audience.

The tenth thing is, be careful with your cursor. I see demos all the time, particular when it’s a remote demo and the person who is demo-ing is moving their mouse around nervously. Oh, we go to this feature, we go to that feature. And then while somebody is asking them a question, the mouse is going all over the place. And what you see is you see what I call the cat phenomenon. If you shine a laser on the wall, a cat’s all over it trying to go after the laser. They are no longer focused on anything else in the room except for that laser. And so be very, very careful and very, very purposeful with your cursor as you’re demo-ing.

And the plus one, since you’ve been a good audience, and you hung in with me throughout this whole thing, is that make sure that you take into account the lag time of a demo when you’re doing it remotely. And what I do with this is I’ll have one machine set up that is not my demo machine that I have dialed into the web conferencing software and I demo from Machine A. Machine B is dialed in and as I’m moving around on Machine A, I can see what the latency is across the internet connection on Machine B. Now this isn’t exact duplication of what you’re prospect is going to be seeing in the demo, but it gives you some kind of an understanding as to what the latency might be. Now, when you’re doing that, and you’re demo-ing and you’re moving from screen to screen, or from function to function, report to report, whatever it is in your software. Don’t just wait when there’s an empty space. Make sure that you’re filling the air, not with uh, um, so, but make sure you’re filling the air with functions and features. Business capabilities, benefits, whatever it might be so that there’s a consistent set of words going throughout your demonstration. This is also a great, great opportunity for you to ask questions of your clients.

So I’ve taken you through 10 plus one on this. I think we’re done. Hopefully you found these useful. I’m going to go ahead, have my big bowl of ice cream and plan for tomorrow, cause I’ve got another day of demos and I expect them to be very, very successful.

Until next time, this is Scott Williamson. Thank you very much, and make sure to look in the Revenade Sales Playbook to look for this and other great tips that can help you sell.