Mastering the Art of Product Demos: Give Presentations that Sell
Over the past few years of running Zonka Feedback, an enterprise feedback app, my team and I have delivered over two hundred (mostly online) demos and presentations about our product to potential leads and customers. I won't be exaggerating if I tell you that I can give you a great product demo even in half sleep. But getting here has been a great learning curve for me and needless to say, the approach has evolved with every demo and we continue to learn with every presentation.
With product demos, it’s always tricky to know what features may be most important to your clients, what should you start with, what should be the flow and how should you close the discussion. Knowing the product inside out isn’t enough - how you package it and present it is more important. That’s where most people fail, and that’s where you can win!
The customers don’t care so much about what you’re selling, they care more about their needs and they come to you with a pile of preconceived ideas and notions. Your craft lies in being prepared and adapting constantly through the demo to exactly what they need.
Through the demos, here are a few key lessons I learned that I am sure will be super useful for you.
Lesson #1 - Be Prepared
This is perhaps the best (and most heard of) advice ever - be prepared before your demonstrations. But here’s a cheat list of things that you really need to prepare before a product demo.
1. Know your customer
Find your potential customer on LinkedIn - read their bio to know what they do and what their role entails. Like in our case, if we’re doing a demonstration with someone from the HR department of a company, it’s most likely for Employee Feedback.
Find about your client’s company - If the customers reached out to you and shared their company name or their official email address, then do your research about the company. Go through their website, their competitors and any information about them using something similar to what you’re selling. It always helps to know what your potential customer’s company does. For instance, when an online company signs up for a Zonka demo, we know they are most probably interested in Online Surveys or Email Surveys.
2. Know what they’re looking for
Ask them about their requirements beforehand (if possible) - I have learned this over time, it’s always good to ask. Ask your customers about their requirements or thoughts as soon as the demo is scheduled - through an email or a quick phone conversation. It will help you align your demo to their needs. If not possible, ask them about it at the start of your product demo. In Zonka, we sometimes prepare a feedback form aligned to their needs and requirements. I am telling you - the customers are instantly impressed and more alert during the demo when it’s super personalised.
Try and gauge what they’re interested in your product - Since Zonka Feedback is a multi channel feedback system, I always try and find out which channel is the customer looking at using most for taking feedback and conducting surveys and then focus on that channel the most throughout the demo.
Calculate an approximate pricing ready - If you’re able to know their requirements and what version or edition of your product are the customers interested in, then calculate an approximate pricing for them already before the demo. Most customers, if they like the demo, would definitely ask you to share the cost. Best if you tell them what cost may be during the demo itself and share details afterwards.
3. Be ready
Keep all relevant links open - If you’re demoing a product that runs online, it’s best to keep all relevant links open. I keep everything from Dashboard to Reports open in a tab so I can just quickly switch while I am giving the demo. It saves a tonne of time and takes care of any Internet issue or load time, if any. Also, most customers have similar questions during the requirement. For example, they enquire about pricing and some specific software features. Since our pricing is online, I also keep the pricing page open in a tab and quickly switch to it when someone enquires about it to take them through the pricing. This is extremely handy when I am out of office and working out of cafes when Internet can be a bit patchy and pages don’t load soon enough.
Have an alternate meeting method ready - We use GoToMeeting and Zoom for our demos and it’s dead easy to get connected to, but after a few demos I realised that not all customers are tech-savvy and some have had trouble connecting to it due to various reasons. So I always keep other methods for demoing the product ready. For example, sometimes I switch to Skype, other times to Join.me or TeamViewer. I have also had meetings wherein customers were unable to connect to the audio in GoToMeeting and so we used it only for screen sharing and I called them on their phone to talk while giving the presentation. It works great because we are able to utilise the time effectively and don’t let one software or method be a hindrance.
Lesson #2 - Sell what they want
I think no one is able to do this right from the start and you get a hang of this only after a couple of demos - concentrate on what customers want and how your product can help solve their problem through the demo. Except for clients who are doing plain research on a tonne of products, the rest are interested in only specific features and it’s best to concentrate on those. For the rest, you can really go into details of features that you think may be most important.
Lesson #3 - Follow a structure, but be flexible
I follow a structure for every demo - start with an introduction, give an overview, concentrate on key features and end with next steps. However, I am always jumping from one thing to another if that’s what the discussion requires based on what the customer wants. The structure keeps me focussed and keeps the discussion in a flow and being flexible helps address customer requirements instantly. It’s a perfect balance.
Lesson #4 - Move from macro to micro
Always start with an introduction and an overview. Just in case your customers get lost in the middle or need to close early or are short on time, they will at least have a fair idea of what you do. Go in depth into feature set only eventually when you’ve covered a bit about the product and how it can help solve customer problem.
Lesson #5 - Give a live demo
Don’t show pre-recorded video or prepared presentation slides. Show a live demo of your product in working because honestly, presentations and videos can just be emailed but a live demo leaves a fabulous impression.
Lesson #6 - Keep it interactive
Let them ask you questions as you go and keep questioning back. It’s the only way to keep them hooked to your product demo. I myself hate demos where I just have to keep listening to someone talk. I have questions and comments that I am bursting with and so do your customers. Let them talk!
Lesson #7 - Don’t be afraid to say no or that you don’t know
Don’t be afraid to say no to something that your product doesn’t offer. Also, don’t be afraid to admit if you are unsure of something about your product. Just tell your customers honestly that you aren’t entirely sure and you will check and write back to them. No point beating around the bush. Everyone loves honesty.
Lesson #8 - Give something to take away
Mention the next steps and give something for the clients and customers to take away - maybe a link to your pricing page or to your free trial. Basically, don’t just end the demo by saying thank you for your time. Decide the next steps with the clients so they have something in mind after the demo is over.
Lesson #9 - Follow up
The demo is done - now what? Follow up. Write an email to thank them for their time. Send reminders about next steps. Basically, your product demo is a start to a great conversation - you have to keep it going and build a good relationship!