Have you ever considered buying a product or signing up for a service but felt you needed to see that product or service in action prior to making your decision? Maybe because you were unsure of how it actually worked or you didn't know whether or not if would solve a challenge you were facing.
That's where a sales demonstration comes in handy.
What is a sales demo?
A sales demonstration, or a sales demo, is when a sales rep delivers a presentation to a prospective customer to show them the features, capabilities, and value of the product or service. The purpose of a sales demo is to close a deal.
Before we dive into the sales demonstration process, let's look at the difference between a sales demo and a product demo, as they're often confused terms.
Sales Demo vs. Product Demo
To reiterate, a sales demo is the process of providing a prospect with a demonstration of your product or service. A product demo is the same process but it involves a current customer.
The point of a sales demo is to create a sale whereas the point of a product demo is to show an existing client how to use the product or service they already invested their time and money in.
Sales Demo Basics
Now, let's answer a few more questions that may come up as you begin thinking about your business's process and as you prepare to start delivering demos to prospective customers.
Who delivers a sales demo?
At virtually every company, a sales rep will deliver a demo to the prospective customer.
Why deliver a sales demo?
You deliver a sales demo to close a deal. With a sales demo, you're showing a prospect exactly how your product or service meets their specific needs and can mitigate any pain points and issues they're experiencing. This makes your prospect want to buy your product or service (or at least want to learn more about it so they can convert later on).
When do you deliver a sales demo?
Sales demos typically occur after a visitor becomes a lead. Depending on where a prospect is in the buyer's journey, there are a few specific points in time when you might deliver a sales demo (or ask if your prospect is interested in a demo).
- When a visitor completes a micro conversion (signs up for your newsletter or requests more information)
- When a lead contacts a member of your sales team to learn more about your product or service
- When a lead requests a consultation
How do you deliver a sales demo?
There are a number of channels through which you can deliver your sales demos. You might offer your prospects different options to be flexible and meet their needs.
Ensure you have all of the tools needed to offer these sales demo delivery methods. For example, if you decide to deliver a sales demo via video chat, make sure you have access to software like GoToMeeting or Zoom, which allow easy screen share, face-to-face video chat, messaging, call features, and more.
Here are some more examples of common sales demo delivery channels:
- Phone call
- Automated/ pre-recorded video
- Live video chat
Sales Demo Steps
- Research your prospect
- Confirm the sales demo
- Plan your sales demo before the meeting
- Humanize the sales demo
- Set an agenda for the demo
- Summarize past conversations
- Provide background
- Explain the product or service
- Address any questions the prospect has
- Set expectations for next steps
1. Research Your Prospect
The first step in the sales demo process is to research your prospect. As the rep who's delivering the demo, you should have a deep understanding of the prospect's needs and pain points as well as what it is the company they work for does.
This will allow you to tailor and customize the demo to the prospect's specific needs and situation, which is a critical component of a successful sales demo.
2. Confirm the Sales Demo
A sales demo is something that's almost always planned in advance — so it's important to remember to confirm the demo prior to it happening. Make sure the planned time of the demo still works for the prospect and give them a window to postpone if they've accidentally double-booked or if something else came up.
Send a calendar invite as soon as you've confirmed the date and time of the demo (don't forget to include any dial-in information if needed). Ask if anyone other than the person (or people) you listed on the invite will be attending so you can add them. Then, follow up with a confirmation email the day before, or a few hours prior to, the demo.
3. Plan Your Sales Demo Before the Meeting
There are many ways to plan your sales demo in a way that will enhance it and make it more engaging depending on the channel you choose to present through.
For example, share your screen during the call with tools like the ones we mentioned above, create a personalized slide deck (with a tool like Canva), and have any relevant links loaded and ready to go in tabs on your browser to reference so you can easily incorporate them throughout the presentation. Examples of these resources include a customer case study, an informative infographic, and any other web pages, like your testimonial web page, you think may come in handy during the demo.
You should also prepare statements around each tool or service you plan to show your prospects as well as any tie down questions — which spark agreement and invite the prospect to better define the value of a given tool or solution for their business — to ensure your prospect is following along and understanding the given information.
Plan tie down questions for each tool or section in your demo to ensure your prospect is following along, understanding your descriptions, and grasping how these tools can help them solve their problems. You want to lay out a clear path from A to B so they can envision the way your product or service can resolve their challenge.
4. Humanize the Sales Demo
If you start the demo with, "Hi. I'm Kristen ... Let's start the sales demo now!" you officially sound like a sales zombie.
To avoid coming off as a pushy, untrustworthy, and possibly unpleasant, ensure you're personable and show your caring, human side at the beginning of the call. After all, at this stage in the sales cycle, you and the prospect probably don't know each other that well. You might ask the prospect how they've been, how their latest project went, if their dog is finally potty trained, whatever. Time is precious, but so is rapport.
And rapport does not stop here. Build it at the beginning of the call and ensure it's continually injected throughout all other parts of the sales demo as well to establish a human and trusting relationship.
5. Set an Agenda for the Demo
Your sales demos should always follow an agenda. Prospects should be informed of this agenda prior to the demo beginning and can also be reminded of which stage of the agenda they're actually in throughout the demo. This sets expectations and keeps everyone organized and on task. Knowing what will happen during the demo will put the prospect at ease.
Emphasize there will be time at the end of the demo for the prospect to ask detailed questions (but you can also stress questions are welcome at any time).
6. Summarize Past Conversations
As you begin presenting the demo, mention any past conversations you've had with this specific prospect. This will remind them why they needed your assistance to begin with, why they considered doing business with you in the past, and how you determined you can help them during any previous conversations.
One way to neatly do this is by outlining the prospect's goals, plans, challenges, and timeline (GPCT). Once they confirm this information is right, you can use this presentation slide (or brief discussion) as a springboard to jump into the meat of the demo.
7. Provide Background
As a rep, gaining the trust of the prospect is a critical component of closing any deal. To do this, provide some background information about your company. This will establish your company as a reputable and innovative potential partner for the prospect.
The ticket here is avoiding generic babble and incorporating specific facts about your company and it's products/ services that align with the needs of the prospect and their company.
7. Explain the Product or Service
Now, it's time to explain your product or service. When doing this, you'll want to ensure the explanation is both specific and tactful.
Start with an overview or the product and it's basic features. Explain why this product exists, and link it to the prospect’s needs (which you already confirmed with the GPCT). Each feature being presented in the demo should tie back to why the product is the best solution for the prospect's challenge.
Next, bring in the "wow" factors. This should answer the question, "What unique value does the product offer?"
This is where personalization is key. For example, if a HubSpot prospect mentions they want to improve their blog's SEO, you could feature the SEO, Content Strategy, and Keywords tool. You can also always refer back to any previous conversations and plans you worked on with the prospect during earlier conversations and ask a tie-down question to ensure you're all on the same page at this time as well.
Furthermore, if your company provides excellent customer service to help with the onboarding process and beyond, include that information in this part of the demo. Knowing help will be available when needed does wonders to reassure a doubtful prospect.
9. Address Any Questions the Prospect Has
As mentioned, you'll want to ensure every demo has time for Q&A at the end of the demo. Throughout the demo, try to anticipate possible objections the prospect might have by listening to their tone and even watching their facial expressions (if they're on a video call or meeting in person).
By picking up on these emotions and concerns, you can frame your responses and answers in a more personalized way. You can also determine whether or not you should pull out that extra infographic or show an example of a customer successfully solving the same problem using the tools being referenced. This builds social proof, credibility, and shows the prospect that others have succeeded by partnering with you.
10. Set Expectations For Next Steps
Whew! You've officially completed the delivery of the sales process. Now, the big question: Is the prospect interested in moving this conversation forward to possibly make a deal?
Let the prospect know upfront what's required on their end for the solution to be successful. For example, show a final slide to summarize the discussion in terms of the prospect’s necessary commitment, skills, time, willingness to learn, and budget for the solution to be a worthwhile investment for them.
If they're interested in learning more or keeping the conversation going, you can set up a follow-up conversation. Or — even better — if the demo was highly effective in convincing the prospect, it might be time to begin a closing sequence to complete the deal (yay!).
Sales Demo Best Practices
There are some best practices you'll want to make sure you follow and consider while working on your sales demos to meet the needs of your clients and develop a consistent, effective, and repeatable process for you and your fellow reps.
Personalize the Sales Demo
Personalize the sales demo to fit the needs of the specific prospect you're speaking with. You always want to distill your demo down and customize it to your audience's situation with only the essential information they need.
To do this, make sure your demo demonstrates the ways your product is suited to address their pain points and meet their needs. Prospects and customers only care about the features that impact them in a positive way, so you'll want your demo to highlight those.
Always Explain "Why"
With everything you present and share throughout the demo, you must explain the "why" behind it. Why is your product better than your competitor's products? Why is your product or service ideal for managing the prospect's issue? Why should your prospect want to do business with you? Why do your current customers love your product?
These are the types of points and comments that may just move your prospect from an interested lead to a new and loyal customer — they differentiate you from other companies and make your demo significantly more convincing.
Remember To Be Adaptable
The sales demo steps are a bit like an adaptable script you can refer to and pull from to ensure you're providing all prospects with an on-brand, consistent, and professional experience.
You can also make sure you run through various situations regarding the reasons why prospects might need your product or service and how it can help them with your sales manager so you're ready for all scenarios. Additionally, you might choose to review some possible questions the majority of prospects currently ask the rest of your team so you're ready to provide quick, helpful, and impactful responses on the fly.
And remember, every interaction, prospect, company, and situation is unique, so prepared to adapt the demo as needed. Your job is to meet your prospect where they are to show your support, flexibility, and commitment to their success.
Prior to, during, and after the delivery of any sales demo, it's critical you listen to both the prospect and your fellow reps.
You need to listen to your prospect's needs, pain points, concerns, questions, hesitations, and positive or negative feedback. This will allow you to customize the demo and all future conversations to fit their needs and tailor the points you make during the demo to highlight the ways your product can resolve their challenges.
Additionally, you need to listen to your fellow reps. Your demo process is ever-changing and you're the group people who are actually working with prospects, conversing with them about their issues and needs, and delivering the demos every day.
So, who better to ask for feedback on the current demo process (what should stay the same and what could be improved) than the other members of your team? Because, maybe they've uncovered something you've never thought about or encountered (and vice versa).
Include Real Data
Data speaks volumes about your products, services, and ability to positively impact your customers. As we mentioned earlier, in your demos, don't be afraid to include real data about your company's success, the percentage of current customers who have solved problems similar to those of your prospects with your product or service, and more.
If a prospect asks for specific information about one of your product's capabilities, you can also pull in real data about the ways in which your solution works and functions.
Begin Creating Your Sales Demo Process
The demo is to sales what the climax is to a movie — this is the part where all the action has built up and resulted in one big moment where everything comes together.
That's why it's so important to get the demo right. Take the time to prep, understand your prospects, and determine how to tie your product back to the prospect's needs and challenges. This way, it'll be smooth sailing and improve the likelihood of closing a deal.