The software demonstration is the moment of truth. It’s when you show the customer what their life will be like with your product, and it’s often when they decide whether or not to buy. Getting this part right is critical for sales professionals, but it can be challenging if you’re not sure how to engage your audience. Here are a few tips on how to best engage your audience and increase your levels of success.
Know Who Is in Your Meeting and What They Need
Here is a list of things you need to know before you start your demo:
- Know who is in the meeting.
- Know the goals of those in the meeting.
- Know or learn quickly what your audience wants you to demonstrate
As a presenter, have you ever been invited to provide a demonstration where you haven’t had sufficient discovery? Here is a great way to figure out quickly what your audience’s primary concerns are. Use a Menu!
Use a menu instead of an agenda so that attendees can see relevant topics at once rather than having to sit through a static (traditional) demonstration. This allows for more interaction between presenters and audience members, which will help keep everyone engaged throughout the presentation.
By prioritizing the items on the menu and figuring out what the client wants to order, you can immediately discuss the most important topics first. Make your menus dynamic so that you can be completely interactive.
Here is a great video to learn how to do so in PowerPoint:
Use Situation Slides to Maximize Engagement
After you understand your audience’s key priorities, use situation slides to tell a story about how your software solves the problem and adds value. Use situation slides as an opportunity to engage with your audience in further discovery.
This can be done by telling a story of another client or if you fully understand the needs of the audience, by recalling what was learned in discovery. This is where you want to briefly highlight the critical challenges, problems, and specific capabilities your clients need, but don’t delve into details about features or functionality yet. Keep things simple and focused at this stage.
You want to ensure first that you understand your audience’s situation before talking about your solution and the value it produces. I like to teach my students that at this point in the demo, they haven’t earned the right to talk about themselves or their company’s products. That should only be done after you understand and confirm your audience’s unique situation and most importantly what they need to learn about your solution in your time together.
While presenting your situation slides, tell stories and ask questions. The more creative and open-ended you can make these questions (i.e., “what do you wish could do better?”), the better chance there will be for meaningful learning from both sides of the table during this interactive process!
The goal is to find out what’s important to them, then show how your software can help solve those issues. Think of it this way: if you’re selling a product or service, then the first step before making any sales pitch should always be listening closely and understanding your customers’ pain points (or desires). A good demonstration will take into consideration these needs before anything else!
Take the Audience on a Journey of Discovery
You can also use a story to engage your audience. We often think of software as a tool, but it’s also a tool for discovery and learning. Your goal is to help the audience discover something they didn’t know they could do with the software; you want them to come away from the demonstration feeling smarter and more capable than when they arrived.
A great way to accomplish this goal is by using the metaphor of a journey throughout your presentation:
- Lay out an imaginary quest for something that doesn’t exist for them yet (the journey), but which will make their lives easier (the destination). This sets up an expectation for what will happen at each step along the way—you’ll be taking them on this quest over time! In Great Demo! form, however, start with the end of the journey, ensure they know where they are going and highlight the story with benefits and value.
- Explain how the software will help them and give examples of how users in similar situations have benefitted from using it.
- Use your audience’s examples to keep everyone engaged throughout your presentation You want them to feel excited throughout!
Next, explain how the software works—the mechanics of it. This is where you’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details that make all the difference between a good demonstration and one that’s truly great! Explain how each step along the way will help them get closer to their destination, and use those steps as opportunities to verify what your clients need.
But here is a key step: Skip the paths in the journey that the customer doesn’t want to travel down and only show the nitty-gritty details that the customer wants to talk about. Turn your demonstration into a conversation!
Show an Illustration of the End Result
While it’s tempting to dive right into the features of your product, resist the urge and instead paint a picture of what they will be able to achieve once they use it. For example, if you’re launching a new project management app, don’t spend five minutes explaining how the task management tools work.
Instead, show an illustration of what their life will look like once they start using your app. It’s important to remember that people aren’t inherently interested in your product.
They are only interested in what your product can do for them. So, it’s crucial to show the audience the value and benefits of the solution and get their buy-in and confirmation that they can see how it will help them.
Turn Your Software Demonstration into a Conversation and Teach Something
The key to getting people interested in your presentation is making them feel like you’re actually talking with them, not at them. You should try using stories or analogies that might help them understand what you’re saying better than if you just explained it in a straightforward way. You could even use humor as well!
The bottom line is that you need to ask questions and often. Questions ensure that we understand what is resonating with our audience and that they are understanding the value the solution will create for them.
Based on the conversation the audience should be able to learn something they don’t already know. Whether it’s a new way of doing something, or something they didn’t even know could be done with your software, the audience will walk away feeling like they’ve gained valuable knowledge and this is a key way to differentiate your solution and position yourself as a trusted advisor.
They should also see how the software can be used in their own business. Demonstrating how the product can solve their pain points and help them grow is key to getting buy-in from prospects who are weighing up whether or not they should take you up on your offer of providing a key solution to their needs.
You should be prepared to ask key questions and teach your audience something they did not know. You are the world’s leading expert on how your solution solves critical business issues and generates value! Use your knowledge to ask the right questions, tell customer stories and highlight how your solution uniquely adds value to each unique client.
Follow-Up After the Demo With Your Situation Slides and Illustrations Highlighting Value-Added Features
After the demonstration, you should follow up with your audience by providing them with a few slides that summarize what they’ve seen and how it can be used. These should include:
- A list of the situations that were discussed during the demo, along with a brief description of each one.
- A list of the value and benefits the audience agreed they could receive from your solution
- A small illustration of each solution, highlighting specific features that were discussed in your demo.
- Your contact information and an invitation to reach out with additional questions
- Suggested next steps on how to move forward
Software demos often make or break the success of your sale. The customer needs to see themselves using your solution and they must remember the key points and the value your solution provides. Engage in conversation, tell stories, and follow up appropriately to ensure you maximize the success of your demos.
If you would like to learn of other ways to maximize sales and the success of your demos, let us know.
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 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.