Don’t Be Boring or Superficial. A Guide to Delivering Great Product Demonstrations

We have all been on the receiving end of product and sales demonstrations. Have you ever wondered why some people can make a boring product seem exciting and other people can make any product seem like watching paint dry? Here are some practical tips for winning customers and influencing others (and having more fun).

  • Be Sincere

Everyone has seen Glengarry Glenross (and if you haven’t you should). It’s a great movie but it’s not real. When it comes to selling any product, building trust is your best ally and most effective sales tool. Acting like an asshole does not help you do that. You should invest in developing a genuine enthusiasm for your own product and also learning about how you can improve the life of your prospect. I know that sounds ridiculous and cheesy, but there is nothing in the world more powerful. Dale Carnegie was onto something. It is very obvious when this is not the case and there is nothing more irritating than listening to someone talk to you like they are a “feature showcasing and objection handling bot”. No one wants to feel like the person they are talking to is trying to put a vacuum cleaner in their pocket and extract money from them. You can be professional and be yourself at the same time. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes I think people forget that.

  • Understand The Specific Problem for the Specific Prospect. Ask Questions First.

It is very common that diligent junior sales representatives and sales engineers have a well rehearsed pitch and demonstration. I appreciate the effort they put into practicing, but this approach does not get the root of how their product solves the prospect’s specific problem quickly enough. It is also very frustrating to listen to because it takes too long and most people are impatient. You should start every demonstration by asking questions first and understanding what exactly your prospect is looking for in their own words. That way you can immediately speak to their core problem in their language and show features that solve it. At the end of the day, all that really matters is whether someone believes that your product is the best solution for their needs.

  • “KYC”. Find out who will be on the demo beforehand and understand their role(s).

If you can understand what motivates a person, you have the most powerful tool of persuasion on your side. Spend some time thinking about who you are going to be talking to and what they might care about. Is it looking good to to their peers so they can get a promotion, making their own job easier, a mandate they received from a boss, etc? Keep in mind that the goals of the person or people you are talking to may not be the same as their overall company goals. So even if what you are saying is good for their company, it may not matter if it is not good for them personally.

  • If they commit to buying, stop talking.

I’ve seen a lot of sales people continue droning on about how great their product is after the prospect already committed to buying it. Aside from being a waste of time, the only thing you can accomplish at this point is saying something that opens the door for more questions and second guessing their decision. In short, “shut up”.

  • Research your competitors. Know their pitch and their product.

Most reasonable people will evaluate a few products before making a decision. You should assume your prospect is going to do that. If you have a deep understanding of your competitors, their pitch and their product, it will allow you to drop subtle tidbits into your demonstration to illustrate your product’s superiority. You should make a practice of doing this and make sure to emphasize these points enough so that your prospect will remember. Some people refer to this as “planting competitor bombs”. It is very effective and doesn’t force you to overtly bash another company to win business. It allows you to stay on the high road but ensure that you’ve drawn a clear distinction between your product and others.

Any good salesperson or sales engineer will develop their own style and nuance, but in my experience, these principles are universal for delivering engaging and powerful product demonstrations.

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