Don’t rely on your demo.

Let’s start by defining exactly what a ‘demo’ is. It is an orchestrated, practiced demonstration or walk-through of the product that is intended to solve the problem the customer is either facing or looking to avoid.

Boredom Ahead

With most ‘demo’ sessions, there is an established path or set of features that your customer will be guided through. It invariably starts with logging in, followed by a required stop on the home page or dashboard, followed by subsequent trips down each menu offering. Analytics and reporting typically wrap up this user experience, culminating in a cheerfully delivered “Any questions?”

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

It’s comfortable, predictable, and safe. And boring. And because everyone knows where they’re headed, they sit back and settle in for the ride.

Especially the person driving the show.

Now ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this demonstration?” Is it a product overview? It is a discovery session? Are you looking to impress them with features and functionality?

Chances are your generic product tour isn’t getting it done because most salespeople use the demo as a crutch. It’s just a step along the sales process, or another brochure.

Most demos are little more than “Look, we have all these great features. And the user interface is so cool and hip. And we integrate with all these third-party apps and tools. So buy from us.”

In reality, the demo should be another discovery tool, another way to generate good questions and better understand the problem and the customer’s perspective.

Use it that way.

Use The Demo Effectively

Rather than resort to a canned, practiced product ‘pitch’ (a word that I was taught early on as a dirty word in sales), put the demo to work for you. Use it to start conversations, uncover problems, and discuss implementation.

Leave the canned demo script and the boredom behind. Do this instead:

A well-executed demo is just another tool in your sales toolkit. Use it first as a discovery tool, and then as a way to inform and educate.