Dos and Don’ts of an Excellent Software Demo - Great Demo

Dos and Don’ts of an Excellent Software Demo

Do’s and Don’ts of an Excellent Software Demo

Sales demos are a powerful way to communicate the value of your product or service to clients, prospects, and customers. The key is to make sure that you’re doing it in a way that helps them understand what they’re getting out of it. Below are a few tips for making sure that your sales demo does its job.

#1 Select Your Team

A demo should be run by a business person who knows how your solutions add client value. That is typically a sales engineer or presales consultant, who can answer technical and functional questions about the product or service. That person should be someone who is comfortable conversationally presenting to an audience and has experience with the solution itself and can translate technical terms into layman’s terms for the benefit of everyone in attendance. The best presales consultants know how to move from features and functions to personalized benefits and value.

It may be tempting to include as many people on your team as possible because they’ll add value with their unique knowledge, but this can backfire if the audience feels overwhelmed by too much information. Limit these presentations only to those who need to attend and have value to contribute to the conversation.

The sales engineer should be an expert in the product or service and have enough knowledge about it that he can answer questions and provide a tour of the benefits of its features. This is where the demo becomes interactive and engaging for everyone involved –both sides want to see how this new solution will work uniquely for the client’s specific situation.

#2 Know the Audience Needs

One of the most important parts of any sales demo is knowing your audience. The more you know about the decision-makers, their needs and problems, their goals, business and priorities, motivations, and background/experience –the better equipped you are to tailor your presentation and demo to them.

➢ Before you start: Do a quick Google search on your prospect. You’ll probably find some information in their LinkedIn profile or press releases that they’ve written themselves. If not take the time to look at their website and review their public SEC filings!

➢ During a demo: Ask questions about how they work best. What are some of their biggest challenges? What types of things would they like to hear about first?

Knowing your prospects is the difference between a great sales demo and an average one. If you can’t find enough information about your prospect online, then ask them questions as you would to an old friend…in a conversational way. You’ll probably be surprised by how much they’re willing to share and when you repeat it back to them in the weeks ahead they will think you are a genius and thoroughly understand their needs. This is an important step in moving from a ‘salesperson’ to a ‘trusted advisor.’

If your prospect is open to it, try to find out their goals. You can ask them how they measure success and then tailor your demo to those measurements and outcomes. Features and functions do not sell a solution, value, benefits, and measurable outcomes do.

Finally, be sure to find out what their process is for making decisions. What does it look like? How long does it take? Who is involved? And remember: The easier you make it for them to make a decision, the better off you’ll both be!

#3 Practice and Prepare

You must understand the client’s situation before presenting it to them. This will help you tailor your presentation and make sure you’re speaking their language when they ask questions, which allows them to engage with what you’re saying.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. - Vince Lombardi

As Vince Lombardi once said: Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. You should practice the demo with everyone who will be involved in selling it: not just sales reps but also marketing teams and project managers who are working on other aspects of this deal — and even people from different departments within your company (such as finance) who might need to know something about this deal as well.

Situation slides generally contain six key elements (Critical Business Issues, Problems, Specific Capabilities Needed, Value & Solution Timing) and are integral to the Great Demo! methodology. They are a perfect way to quickly ensure that every member of the team understands the needs of the client and the objectives of the demo.

#4 Adapt in Real-Time

A good sales demo is equal parts preparation and practice. This means having the right team, knowing the decision maker’s needs, preparing for objections, and being ready to adapt on the fly. An important aspect of a great sales demo is that you’re prepared for it — but not too prepared. Salespeople often get caught up in trying to sell their product or service on paper before getting into real-time conversations with customers (which are much more effective).

Instead of spending all your time practicing your pitch, focus on understanding what each customer needs from you. Make sure everyone involved has researched the company beforehand so they know exactly how their products can help solve its problems but resist the urge to give away everything too quickly. Great Demos show what is needed before showing how it works.

If you’ve met with the potential client before, don’t rest assured that they’ll remember how helpful your product was during those meetings…they likely won’t remember why it is better than other options out there. So, start with a recap of the previous meeting and highlight the benefits and value previously discussed and then continue to ask questions!

Ask questions early on so that when it comes time for demoing solutions (which should be as close to real-time as possible), you’ll have enough information to tailor your pitch and make it relevant to their needs. It’s also important that before giving a demo, you know each attendee’s name, title at work (if possible), and what his or her role, in particular, is with the business–only then will it be clear how pivotal their opinion might be when deciding whether or not this product would help solve problems related to whatever problem they want to be solved first!

When it comes time for the actual demo, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about how your product works. Don’t go into too much detail about how much each feature costs–focus more on making it clear for them what exactly is being offered (and why), then explain how that helps solve their challenges and adds value to their business.

#5 Ask Questions

As a salesperson, you should never assume that the customer knows what they want or need. You should ask them directly:

➢ What are you looking to achieve?

➢ What are you trying to solve?

➢ What do you think is the problem?

➢ What do you think is the solution?

➢ How are these problems affecting you?

The customer may be wrong about what they want or need. Don’t assume that because the customer has a certain problem your product can solve it. Sometimes customers don’t even realize what problems they have, so ask questions to find out their pain points. Much like a doctor, your role should be to diagnose before prescribing. Until you have done so, you have not earned the right to talk about how your solution is qualified to help.

#6 Identify Value and Benefits

Asking questions is an important part of a sales demo, as it helps you understand the customer’s business and goals. Asking good questions can help you uncover benefits and value by encouraging your prospect to talk about their business needs, pains, and improvement needs. You will also learn how they like to work with others in their organization so that you can tailor your presentation to fit those preferences.

You want to ask open-ended questions that encourage the customer to elaborate on their answers rather than providing a “yes” or “no” response. For example: “How many people are using this project management software right now and for what types of projects?” This question allows them to tell you more details about their company and its current use case scenario.

You can then dive deeper with your questions to reveal their current challenges and pain points. It’s also important because it gives us insight into what matters most and because when we find out how much time someone spends doing something (like working), we know there’s probably value associated with increased productivity for them.

#7 Overcome Objections

Asking questions is an important part of the sales process, but you have to be prepared for objections. If a customer doesn’t trust you or your product, likely, they won’t buy from you. A good way to overcome this is by demonstrating empathy and confidence in yourself and your product. By explaining why the customer should buy from you and how their life will be better with your product or service, customers are more likely to move forward with their purchase decision.

In many cases, the best way to overcome objections is simply by addressing them head-on. If you’re ready for an objection and have an answer prepared, then chances are good that you’ll be able to overcome the objection and refocus the conversation on the value your solution provides.

#8 Get Feedback

After each demo, get feedback from your customers. If you’re showing a product and they don’t seem interested in using it, ask why not and take notes on what went wrong or right during the demo, then adjust your strategy based on this new information. As a standard practice after each sales campaign, I like to have a feedback session where everyone on the team can share the following three pieces of information.

  1. What things did we do well and should repeat next time?
  2. What should we not repeat next time?
  3. What things did we not do that we should have?


In conclusion, the key to a successful sales demo is preparation, practice, and asking great questions. If you want to be successful, you must constantly ask questions and enhance your audience connection and engagement skills. You also need to make sure that your product or service is presented in the best possible light so that potential clients are convinced by its value!


About the author

Paul H. Pearce has over 20 years of technical sales leadership and experience in Sales, Presales, Field Enablement, and Business Development. As the first certified Great Demo! training partner, he has mastered the methodology and today contributes to its ongoing success, having recently authored the industry’s newest Presales -Sales Methodology called the “Great Demo! 5 Imperatives.” Paul has consulted and trained dozens of organizations and hundreds of Presales Consultants and recommends ways to increase sales through proven methodologies and real-world experience.

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