by pat

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.

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