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Face to Face Demonstrations–Tips for Success

On-site demos act as a rallying point for technology purchasing decisions.

In fact, the demo may be the only chance you get to persuade some busy decision makers.


Here’s five tips to help you be more effective in your face-to-face technology demos :

1) Do Your Research

When highly-paid decision makers come to your demo, it costs your prospect’s company serious money; you owe it to them to be as prepared as possible.  Before the demo make sure to:

  • Interview all key players–understand needs, goals and issues
  • Find out who is FOR you and who may be AGAINST you in the sale
  • Discover ways in which your prospect would like to improve their business processes
  • Understand who your competition is

Based on this research, you can prepare a demonstration that is crisp, effective and contains exactly what they want to see.

2) Have a Teamwork Plan

Teamwork between sales and sales engineering is critical to demonstration success. To avoid mishaps, have a strategy for helping each other during the demo.

Here are some examples where planning ahead makes a big difference:

  • Hide demo set-up – While the sales engineer sets up the demo system, sales can do the company overview. The presentation takes the focus off you so that you can get your demo running without the pressure of a roomful of eyeballs on you! Agree on a signal to let sales know that the demo is up and you are ready to go, so they can quickly wrap up their presentation.
  • Reduce the impact of crashes – Sales should monitor the demo (as opposed to thumbing their Blackberry) so that they can come to your aid if a “bad thing” happens in your demo such as a crash. Sales can interject a comment, taking the audiences attention off you long enough to recover. Another good suggestion is for sales to keep a pack of Oreos in their bag so that they can “remember” to take them out and offer them to the prospect, buying you a bit of time. (This is especially effective with techies!)
  • Know what can be shown – Sales must be aware of what can and cannot be shown in the demo. Sometimes equipment or software is not working or a feature is not enabled–be sure to talk ahead of time to avoid embarrassment .

3) Make a Connection

All things being equal, prospects will buy from people they like. Making a connection is a combination of professionalism, social skills and competence.

  • Professionalism – Acting in a professional way, lets the prospect relax and focus on your message. Prospects expect you to keep things business like. Save political and religious topics for your friends. Be specific in all communication; make it easy to work with you.
  • Social Skills – Although, your purpose is strictly business, sales is a PEOPLE business. Learn to move smoothly between pleasantries and your business message. For technical people this can be as simple as talking about fun or  interesting technology as a way to lighten up the call, then moving back to business. Remember, most people are busy and don’t want to spend a ton of time on small talk, but they do want to get a sense for you as a person.
  • Competence – If you don’t know your stuff, today’s savvy prospect won’t want to work with you no matter how nice you are. Everyone has lots to do and if you waste their time once, it will be the last chance you get to do so! Work hard to become a knowledgeable resource for you prospects and customers.

4) Build Credibility

Come off too slick and prospects will suspect they’re being misled. To be credible, you need to prove that you understand their world and back up any claims that you make.

Early in the demo, you may have to show every feature to prove it’s real. As the demo progresses–provided you project honesty, knowledge and understanding–you will be able to say more and show less.

5) Close for Next Steps

As you conclude the demo, make sure to recap and outline what should happen next.

  • What have they asked about?
  • When will you get back with them?
  • What is the next step in the process: an evaluation, another meeting?

Based on your pre-demo goals, you should request specific actions that move the sale forward.

If you are interested in improving your face-to-face sales demos, please visit our Demos Skills Training page.

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