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7 Product Demo Tips for your Next Demonstration

Seven Product Demonstration Tips

Technical product demos can be a challenge–these 7 demonstration tips will help you do a great demo next time out.

1) Know your audience

Gathering data about your prospect’s needs before the demo is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Some information comes from sales, some from a demo request form and some is gathered on-the fly during the demo.

The key is to piece together what each decision maker cares about and why. Armed with this information you can be sure to cover the topics they care about and to drop the ones they don’t.

Knowing who will be in the audience means that you know who the most important decision maker in the room is. This is the person who needs to hear your message loud and clear. If they are not in the meeting you may need to reschedule for a time when they can be.

Here is a PDF Demo Form that you may find useful for capturing the information that you need to know about your audience prior to your demo.

2) Know your product

By the time they agree to a demo, today’s savvy prospects have researched your product and your competitors’ on the web and have a very good idea of what they need. At the demo, they will have very specific, detailed, technical questions that they have not been able to answer through their research. They expect answers and if they don’t get them they will take their business elsewhere.

You are the product expert.  Prospects expect you to know how your product solves their problems. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t answer 85-90 percent of the questions asked during the demo–you’re not ready.

3) Understand the issues faced by your prospects

Compelling demonstrations demand a deep understanding of the issues faced by your prospects and customers. Understanding lets you to map the benefits of your product to your prospects needs. How has your product or service helped others like them? Bring this out and you provide a valuable service to your prospect and put them at ease.

4) Use a story based structure

Structured demos are memorable demos. If you just string together feature after feature, the prospect won’t remember what you showed them.

Instead, why not try a time-compressed story based on a “day in the life” of your prospect. This style demo mirrors what happens in their world, making it easy to follow and remember. The key thing here is to only cover what the prospect cares about in your story, drop everything else or you are asking for trouble! Check out the video below on using a time compressed story based demo format:

5) Use customer stories and references

Customer stories show how your product solves problems and third party references can do amazing things for your credibility. Ask other members of your team for stories they use and build a collection for all to share.

6) Practice your demo

If your demo looks clunky prospects will get spooked. Find a safe way to show the good stuff, then practice until you can do it on autopilot. Never change anything just before your demo, if you do you run the risk of breaking the demo in unforseen ways.

7) Add some spice

The last thing you should do to improve your product demos is to add some spice, specifically: humor, quotes and props.

  • Humor can put your audience at ease and help them feel more comfortable with you.
  • Quotes, as long as they are relevant to your product, can make a demo more memorable and interesting.
  • Props are a great way to clarify a point or to punctuate your demo to make a specific feature stand out.

Have a tip that improved your demo? Let us know in the comments section below.

Learn More About Our Demonstration Skills Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. Give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form

How do a B2B Software Demo

Introduction

So, why should you read this article? 

Before I Wrote This, I Took a Surf Around the Web Looking for How To Demo Articles.

I was looking for specific advice on doing product demos to industrial clients, with the specific purpose of selling high-ticket B2B software (or software controlled products and instruments).

As a result of my hunt for demo articles on the web, I found that most had the same three issues:

1) They Were Not Specific to B2B SalesWhile there is a fair amount of information on doing demos for consumers (B2C), I found a dearth of information on business-to-business (B2B) technology demos.
For example, an iPAD demo is clearly for a consumer audience, ditto for showing off the latest version of Windows.

2) They Were Not About On-site Company DemosThe articles that were B2B specific often focused on demoing for large audiences and events. For example, the DEMO Conference which is focused on giving a six-minute demo to introduce/launch a new product to a large audience; not very relevant to on-site B2B technology demos.

3) They Were Bad Advice for a Sales Situation – I had to flat out disagree with some of the advice that was given, such as: Don’t allow questions during your demo! Yikes!

This post is offered up as specific advice for doing on-site B2B demos of complex technology products.

If You Don’t Sell Complex Software to Technical End Users and Managers Stop Reading

Let me be clear about the type of demo I’m talking about; for the sake of this discussion we’re talking about a business-to-business (B2B) software or software controlled product demo.

This demo is done on-site, for a team (2 to 25 people) at a company with a specific need for your type of solution.

 

The Demo in a Complex Sale

This type of demo is one phase in the sales process of a so-called complex sale where you’re typically dealing with multiple contacts on the client side.

Some of these people will make the buy decision (Management), some will influence it (Techies), and some will have no effect at all on the outcome (Dilberts? or Miltons?). Additional aspects of the complex sale are:

  • The dollar value for a complex sale is often large.
  • The decision process can take anywhere from a few months to many months or more.
  • The product is typically complex in nature. (Selling this type of product requires that you understand how the product/technology can help your prospect solve critical business issues that they need to solve, and/or to realize a vision that improves their results.)
  • One or more visits with the client are required to close the sale.
  • The Selling is typically done by a sales team comprised of a Sales Person and a Sales Engineer (AKA an FAE)

How to Create and Deliver an Effective B2B Product Demo

I have been selling and demoing technology products (and training others on how to do it) for a long time. Many of the large sales that I or my sales team have made, have included and on-site demo.
This section outlines the procedure for creating and delivering a winning demo.

The Goal of the Demo

The goal of a demo should always be to move the sale forward in the sales process.
All prospects are in search of one or both of the following things when they go looking for new products:

  • A solution to a problem
  • A path to achieving their vision

In a typical B2B sale, senior management has the vision and is aware of the problems. Technical end users and line managers are responsible for the realization of the vision or the resolution of the problems identified by management.
To move the sale forward you need to:

  • Understand their specific critical business needs (visions and problems)
  • Be sure that they are motivated to achieve the vision or to solve the problem using a solution like yours
  • Be sure that they have the budget to purchase your type of solution
  • Show them, in terms they understand; using examples specific to their world, how they can solve their problems and enjoy the ROI of using your solution.
  • Engender trust and gain credibility so that you become the trusted and preferred vendor.

The Winning Demo Method

Now, lets take a look at how we would prepare and deliver a demonstration using the step-by-step method that I teach in my demo skills training classes.
Use a Demo Creation Worksheet to capture all critical aspects of the demo such as:

  • Who are the decision makers
  • What are their key business issues and visions
  • What is the impact or implication of these issues on their business: what happens if they don’t address them.
  • Who is the competition, what are the issues
  • What are they doing now, what do they want to change. To keep?
  • What do you want them to remember
  • Which customer success stories are relevant to them?
  • Map benefits of your solution (success stories) to their specific needs and visions.
  • Create the shortest, most compelling and customer relevant demo sequence possible

Outline for a Winning Demo:

Open:
Answer the questions they have in their head

  • Tell them what you will cover
  • Tell them Why it matters to them
  • Tell them it’s their demo: encourage questions

Most important Message First

Solution to problem or realization of a vision

  • Use a time compressed scenario format, based on a success story
  • Be ruthless, only show the detail that sells

Close:

  • Summarize the value
  • Ask about the next step in the process

Credibility Tips

As you deliver the demo, you need to be sure to gain credibility with your audience. Here are a few tips:

  • Know your stuff – If you can’t answer around 80% of the questions asked, you don’t know your stuff well enough.
  • Gain facility with industry tools. Practice sequences until you are fast and impressive. This goes a long way with customers as they can see that you have spent some time in the trenches.
  • Anticipate questions, have great answers.
  • Do some product support. This will give you insight into real world issues faced by your customers.

Learn More About Our Demonstration Skills Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. Give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form

Sales Presentations How to Avoid Filler Words, Ums and Ahs

Filler words are killer words that can overshadow an otherwise great sales presentation by driving the audience to distraction.

Filler words are those verbal pauses and missteps like Um and Ah, or thrown in words such as Ya Know or Like.
For an example of the negative effects of filler words we need look no further than today’s YouTube headlines. Caroline is a serious-minded and intelligent person. Her content is strong, but, the filler words weakened her overall message. (Watch the Video Below.)
We can see how filler words can weaken your message; what can we do to avoid them in our sales presentations and demonstrations?

Verify That You Have the Problem and Define the Scope

You may have been told by a colleague or manager, you may have even caught yourself slipping in an Um or and Ah. The first thing you need to do is get some feedback. I have found the following helpful:

Record Yourself

Record yourself doing a presentation or demo in various phases of the activity. Sometimes it’s the Q and A section that will bring out the dreaded Ums and Ahs–sometimes it’s when you are in front of a large group. If you are doing a software demo or slide presentation, you may want to record the screen and your audio at once. This helps you gauge your progress (by looking at recordings over time as you practice) and also to get a better idea what actions may trigger problems as you present.

Join a Local Toastmaster Group

Toastmasters is a great organization if you want to learn to stop using filler words such as: ums and ahs. They actually have a person at each meeting who will count filler words as you speak (Called the Ah Master). This helps you to be more self-aware and to reduce these filler words through real-world practice.

Enlist Others to Help You

You may want to enlist the help of colleagues and even family members to be on the lookout for any filler words or sounds. Kids especially enjoy catching a parent and it can be a good learning experience for them as well.

Quantify the Problem

Each time you speak, try to keep a rough mental count of each infraction. This should help you assess how extreme the issue is and what to do about it.

How Can We Stop?

Once you’ve identified when you’re most likely to use filler words, what can you do to stop using them. (For reference, most people have trouble when answering a question, at the beginning of a thought or at a natural pause in the sentence.) Here are a couple of ideas that can help:

Learn to Catch Yourself

As you become aware of this problem you’ll begin to notice when you do it, and when others do it as well. Try to catch yourself before you make the mistake. As a side benefit, watching others will reinforce the value of reducing this behavior in you own speech patterns.

Learn to Love the Power of the Pause

Add impact to your message by taking adding a 2-second pause before you start speaking. Adding a pause will also give you time to think and to give your audience time to process what you just said. If you’re answering a question, pause for a beat and think about what you want to say; you may even want to ask a clarifying question to give you a bit more detail and time to think before you answer.

Practice Speaking in Soundbites

For most sales presentations and demos you’ll have plenty of time to practice. As you practice, concentrate on speaking in “sound bytes” or “chunks” In time, most of the common sales messages will become second nature to you and you will rarely make a mistake. Finally, if you are having trouble dropping the Um and Ah habit, there may be one bright spot: some studies suggest that you may actually be perceived as more outgoing if you use these verbal pauses in non-business conversations. If you enjoyed this article, you may want to check out our Sales Presentations Primer.

Be Prepared

Like a boyscout, or Girlscout (do they have a motto?), you should always do your best to think about and prepare what you want to say ahead of time. This step alone, can help dratimaticly reduce your tendency to use filler words.

Try to Relax

In some situations this is easier said than done, I know but it turns out that nerveousness can bring out the dreaded filler words in most people. many people find  that if they imigine that the  audience is happy they are there and receptive to the message. Others find  that thinking about the preperation they  have done and my sincere desire to bring the audience value helps them to relax. 

Software Demo Training: How to Structure your Demo

Learn More About Our Software Demo Training

We can create custom software demo training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

Time Compressed Story Based Demo Video

--You should have seen the demo from Acme! Wow! We gotta get us some of that and fast!

Watch the  Video: Creating a Demo Story ..


To Succeed, a Software Demo Must be Memorable.

Ideally you want everyone who saw your software demo to tell everyone else what a great product you have and why they need to buy it!

I have seen way too many demos where the sales engineer says: “and another cool thing is…”

After the third cool thing, all features sound the same. No context. No Story. In our Software demo Training Classes we cover a number of ways to help with this problem, lets take a look at a few.

The Solution

Use a time-compressed story structure for your demo. (Check out the video above for more detail on how to create a time-compressed story.)

Top 3 or 4 Issues

Using information that you gained in discovery, you will want to come up with the top 3 or 4 issues that your prospect is facing. This step is critical to your success since missing an important topic leaves the prospect wondering if you can handle it and covering a topic they are not interested in wastes time and can make the demo and the product look more complicated. Here’s an example PDF Demo Form that you can use to help capture your prospects key issues.

A Time-Compressed Story

Your demo story needs to show how your solution solves the prospect’s top 3 or 4 problems in the shortest most compelling way possible.

The Story should reflect a “day in the life” compressed down to the essentials. You do need to be absolutely ruthless when it comes to cutting out unnecessary detail. As you do your research, always try to determine the most important problem for your prospect to solve and look to remove any parts of your demo that are not needed.

To round out the demo structure, simply add a demo opening and a demo close.  

 The Demo Opening

The demo opening is typically a recap of what you believe their top issues are. If they have any changes or additions they will voice them at this time allowing you to add these changes to your demo. You also want to verify that the right people are present for the demo and that you have enough time. If a key decision maker is not available or has to leave early you may want to make adjustments to cover what is key for them or even consider rescheduling.

The Demo Close

The demo close can be as simple as asking for the next step in the sales cycle. In complex B2B sales this may be an evaluation or Proof of Concept or a formal proposal.

The Best Demo is Always the Shortest

Sometimes, there is one issue that is so severe to your prospect that if you can solve it nothing else matters. In this case the best demo may be one that shows how to solve that one problem, short and sweet, and nothing else! 

Good Selling!

 

Learn More About Our Software Demonstration Skills Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

Do Your Demos Add Value?

Learn More About Our Demonstration Skills Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

Think about the last presentation or demo that you did. What value did you add, what problems did you help your customer solve?

Prospects demand value. They can learn all about your products on the web; your value-add is what makes them want you.

Fail to provide value and you’ll most likely lose to the sales team that does.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways to add value in your next presentation or demo:

Share knowledge

Prospects get tons of information from your web site, but you can still add value by sharing your:

Company/Product Knowledge

  • Understanding and explaining complex license policies
  • Helping with complex configurations
  • Helping them select the best solution for their needs
  • Acting as an ombudsman and advocate for them with your factory

Industry/Market Knowledge

  • Alerting prospects to industry best practices that they are not aware of
  • Sharing success stories from your exposure to others in their industry
  • Sharing trends that your are seeing that may affect their business

Technical Knowledge

  • Tips about implementing a new technology
  • Examples of how to increase efficiency through new products
  • Things to avoid when adopting new technologies
  • Ways to use related technologies as part of a complete solution

Do industry research

Once you understand your prospect’s issues, think about ways to help them.

Learn all you can about related products and services. Aspire to be the go-to industry resource that provides valuable insights and actionable ideas.

Improve your communication skills

Become proficient at explaining key industry concepts and technologies to all types of audiences. Make the complex accessible, and you’ll be the go-to resource when your prospect needs an industry update.

Reveal trends

How many software and product demos have you done–hundreds, more? This gives you a great window into the issues faced by your prospects. This experience is invaluable to your prospect. Keep in mind that customers are busy and only exposed to the issues unique to their microcosm. Take the time to share useful insights and trends that will help them do their jobs better.

Make introductions

Does one of you prospects need a CTO? Perhaps you know of someone who is a great fit. Why not do a little matchmaking?

Know of an adviser, consultant or perspective board member that could help you customer? Why not hook them up? In the end you will make an ally regardless of the outcome.

Have other ways to add value, let me know in the comments section.

How to Handle Tough Sales Questions

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angrysalespresentationHandling questions is a critical selling skill. In every sales presentation or demonstration, some questions will be hostile, pointed or negative. How you handle these tough questions can make or break the sale.

Unlike politics or debate, in sales you must not only persuade your audience to agree with your point of view, you must also answer all questions. In essence, you need to get the audience to emotionally “buy into” what you’re selling.

Why are your prices so high.. Why is the interface so slow… Why can’t you do it, your competition can…
–typical day in the life of a salesperson

Here are 5 tips for answering tough sales questions.

1) Stay cool – Some questions may be hostile or reflect a negative agenda on the part of the questioner. Sometimes the express purpose of the question is to get you to react or get you off your game.

If you hope to win the sale, you can’t get emotional in these situations. Carefully analyze the question and dispassionately come up with an answer that moves the sale forward or at least keeps the conversation positive. Remember, the prospect is focused on their interests and not yours. Don’t take tough questions personally–it’s just business.

2) Answer the question – How many times have you seen a politician respond to a question by giving a mini-speech that’s unrelated to the question. In sales non-answers are the kiss of death–you’re basically telling the prospect:

  • I don’t understand the question so here’s some BS
  • I don’t want to answer this question
  • I don’t have a good answer so I guess I’ll dodge the question

None of these approaches moves the sale forward so please don’t use them. Here is a process that I use to be sure that I answer the question that is asked:

  1. Rephrase the question in your own words to verify that you understand it. The prospect will let you know if you are off track.
  2. Factor in the objectives of the person asking the question in your answer. Managers want to hear about ROI and Vision attainment, end users want to know about implementation issues and day in the life impact.
  3. Ask a follow up question before you answer if you need too, if you try to answer before you understand the entire situation, you may say something that turns off the prospect.
  4. Answer honestly and succinctly
  5. Ask them if you have answered their question. They will let you know if you haven’t

3) Show what you know – Sometimes there’s no good answer to a question. I’ve seen this in technology sales when products on the market don’t handle a situation well.

For example, if most products handle about 80% of a problem but fall short in an area that’s of concern to the prospect you should:

  • Talk about the issue and show that you understand the implications.
  • Outline possible approaches and why they may be of interest; discuss why no vendor has implemented them.
  • Explain that since all other products have the same issues, your product is up to par.
  • Show how your existing customers handle the situation and if possible how your solution helps to mitigate any shortcomings.

4) Use humor to defuse the situation – If the audience is generally on your side, but you have been asked a difficult question, you may want to use a bit of self-effacing humor to lighten the mood. As an example:

With a smile: ” I’m so glad you asked that question…” then acknowledge that it is a thorny issues and that it is important to address it.

5) Be respectful – We have all done it. A prospect asks a question that we covered earlier in our presentation and we can’t help but say: “As I said before!” then answer the question. Don’t do it! Ever! It shows a complete lack of respect and alienates the person asking the question. You are much better off to simply say something like: Good question, here is what we do…”

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Getting Results from Trade Show Demonstrations

Ever done a trade show and wished that you and your team had uncovered more hot prospects, set up more post-show appointments and done more effective demos?
If this sounds familiar, you’ll want to read this step-by-step guide to trade show success through better demos.

Qualify prospects

Trade show demos are a perfect time to learn about your prospects; booth visitors expect questions, so don’t miss this important opportunity. Here are the key steps to qualification during a trade show demo:

1) Look before you leap – Never just jump into your standard demo; ask background questions like:

  • How are they doing things today?
  • What do they like and dislike about the product they’re using, what would they change?
  • Why are they at the show, what are their goals relative to your type of product?

2) Relate to their needs – Based on their answers, give examples of how your solution has helped others like them. Ask which areas are most important to them.

3) Drill down for detail – When a prospect asks a question, use it as a springboard to ask more questions and expose the big picture.

Disqualify poor leads

Nothing’s worse than doing post-show follow up on a so-called “hot” trade show lead only to find that it’s a dud. Demos are a great way to weed out the clunkers–here’s how:

1) Avoid misunderstandings – Pay attention and ask questions. Prospects may have misconceptions about your product; the quicker you find out, the better it is for both of you.
As you demo, check in with the prospect with phrases like: “Does that make sense?” or “Is that similar to how you do it today?”.
Watch their face; if they look confused ask if they have a question.

2) Verify urgency and need – Ask questions to see how urgent their need is.

  • How are you doing this now?
  • Are you looking at getting equipment like this?
  • What would happen if you don’t make a change?

If they say they are in the market, is it an immediate need or longer term?

3) Be sure they are decision makers – Ask questions to see how well they understand the decision process. If a prospect can’t answer basic process questions, it’s either early days or they’re not part of the process. Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • Who is on the decision team?
  • Will they be doing evaluations?
  • What are the key criteria they are interested in?

Close for post show demos, evaluations or meetings

If you find a hot one, close for the next step NOW–before they get back to their hectic world and get too busy to return your call.
Here are some example closes:
“It looks like we are a good fit for your application, what would be a good next step? We will be in your area next week and can do an on-site demo for the rest of the team and set you up and evaluation. Would that work for you?”
“It looks like an evaluation would be the next step. Why don’t I quickly get that set up for you now?”
Make sure you have a solid next step, even if it is only a commitment from them to take a phone call on a specified date and time. Trust me, if you don’t close now it will be much harder to reach them when they get back to the office.

Do more effective, compelling demos

If you and your team would like to improve your trade show demo skills, check out our demo skills class or contact us. We will customize the training to your exact needs and can often combine training with in-booth coaching sessions at one of your upcoming trade shows. This let’s students master the skills from class and become productive right away.

Learn More About Our  Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

Are You Really Ready for the Big Demo?

The big demo, the one that could make your number for the year, is right around the corner. When demo time comes, will you be ready? You will if you practice. In this post we will be discussing a step-by-step system for creating and delivering a winning demo when the pressure is on.

A step-by-step demo practice plan

Here is a step-by-step plan to help you prepare for your next big demo.

Demos, like most presentations, have a standard format:

  • An opening
  • A body
  • A close

The key to a winning demo is to know your audience, craft a demo that covers only what the prospect cares about and practice it until you know it cold.

Practice the opening

As you open your demo and begin to speak, your audience is sizing you up. They are wondering: can this person help me, do they understand my issues, are they credible?

These first seconds are crucial to the success of your demo–and when you are at your most nervous–so make sure to practice your opening until you can do it in your sleep.

Here’s how:

Script the opening – write it all out–every single word. Read it aloud, and tweak it until is sounds right to the ear. Get a voice recorder and record your demo and play it back. (A voice recorder is also a great ideal for “real demos”.)

What is in a great demo opening

  • Recap their critical business issues
  • Describe where they are today an how your offering can help them get where they need to be.
  • Verify that these are the issues they care about.
  • Encourage questions
  • Bridge smoothly to the demo

A real demo opening example

Here is an example of an opening from a recent demo training workshop (the product was a complex medical lab instrument):

“In today’s demo we will show you how the automation option for your existing systems will help you increase throughput and how you can dramatically reduce errors and retests using our software for tracking moving averages”

“Does that make sense”

“Are there any other areas that we should address in the demo?”

“I will be using the XXI XXX and XXC XXX for this demo. This is the same set-up that you have except that, my set-up will also include or new software”

“My plan is to show a process that’s similar to what you do everyday.”

“I’ll begin by showing you how we help increase throughput, then I’ll cover how to reduce maintenance time, and finally I’ll show how you can use our product to reduce errors and re-tests.”

“Please ask questions as we go, it’s your demo so take me anywhere you want to go.”

Practice makes for a perfect opening

Once you are satisfied with the message, then practice it over and over again until it is second nature.

Once you have it down, you can relax with the confidence of knowing that the first few minutes of the demo will be perfect.

Practice your demo paths

A demo path is a sequence of the things you show and the words that you say as you highlight the value of a particular feature. You need to practice each path until you can do it in your sleep. Only then will you be ready to demo you product with confidence.

Practice handling tough questions and objections

If you have done your homework and really understand you prospects issues, you should not get many objections. But since most plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy, you had best be ready for the worst.

Nothing will derail a demo faster that a mishandled question or objection. The best way to practice is to work with a partner who will play the audience. Give them a list of tough questions and have them ask you them as you do your demo.

Learn More About Our  Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

The B2B Technology Sales Process

Selling Complex products and services is different from selling to consumers or simple transactional/commodity sales for the following reasons:

  • The dollars involved are higher
  • The sales cycle is much longer
  • Multiple people are involved in the decision

The flowchart to the left is an example of the typical B2B sales process used to sell technical products and services.

The key difference is that you and your team will need to discover and profile all members of the prospects team that are part of the decision process. Typically the sales person will profile the entire prospect team, then compare notes with the sales engineer to be sure that all bases are covered.

B2B Sales Tip–Improve Your Sales Forecast with 2 Simple Questions

At the end of the month when the heat is on to close business, what would you rather say to your manager?

–spoke with “Jim Bakus” in purchasing, the order will be issued in the next 2 days

                                                                                   or

–called my main contact for an update, he’s out of the office until the 3rd of next month, sorry.


The first answer is way better, right?

Sales Managers need accurate forecasts. As a sales person you’re measured–at least in part–on forecast accuracy.

Let’s take a look at 2 questions that will make a big difference in the accuracy of your forecast right away.

1) What could stop this purchase from happening ?

Ask the prospect if there is anything that could stop them from moving forward with the purchase. You will be amazed at the amount of valuable information that this simple question brings.

Most people are optimists and may not be mindful of all the issues that could scuttle the purchase. This question get’s them in an analytical mindset and focused on possible obstacles.

2) What is the purchase process?

If you can get a reasonably detailed description of the process, you can better estimate how long the process will take and what could go wrong.

In addition, having the names of people involved at each stage of the buying process will be invaluable if things get stalled and you need an update.

If the prospect can’t explain the process, they may not be as involved in the purchasing decision as you thought. Keep digging, until you’re sure you’ve found the decision maker.

Always remember, without a solid understanding of the purchase process, you’ll be relegated to ridiculous emails and phone messages asking for an update or “just checking in”.

(For a great article on the value of a forecast check out this post at selling power.)

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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