How to Run a Great Sales Demo

After you’ve connected with a prospect and mutually identified that they are a good fit, scheduling a sales demo is the next big step. A demo gives you and your prospect the opportunity to dig deeper into how your solution can help them. It is also a great way for both parties to determine if it makes sense to move forward.

A great sales demo engages the prospect, shows them how the product can provide solutions, and paints a picture of the product’s broader impact. In contrast, bad demos tend to be bogged down with technical details and don’t speak to the prospect’s unique challenges. The prospect has few opportunities to engage or ask questions and does not leave with a complete understanding of why they should select your product over the others. Here’s how to run a demo that engages prospects:

1. Use the questions you asked during the discovery process to shape your demo.

During the discovery process, you’ve gained a lot of information about the prospect’s goals, current problems, and priorities. Consult your notes and your CRM when preparing the demo.

Use this information to shape your presentation. For example, if the prospect has a particularly strong need for a certain feature, you want to make sure that feature is prominently highlighted in the demo.

If you observed that the prospect tends to use certain language, echo that language in your presentation. You can subtly work in references to previous conversations with phrases like “As we previously discussed…” and “I know you’re concerned about…” This signals that you are truly listening to the prospect.

Before going into a demo, review the list of who will be in attendance and their roles. This will help you cater your content to participants’ specific concerns.

2. Review the agenda prior to beginning your demo and establish your credibility.

People want to know what to expect, so it’s helpful to lay out the basic agenda at the very beginning. This helps the prospect feel at ease and signals that you respect their time. Communicate to the prospect that you want them to get value out of the conversation by engaging with your demo and you are open to answering questions throughout.

Building trust with your prospect before diving right into your pitch is critical for your sales success. Show that you are 100% prepared for the demo and connect your pitch to the company’s pain points.

3. Highlight your edge over your competitors and how you can solve your prospect’s unique challenges.

One of the biggest mistakes sales reps make is starting their presentation by going right into how to use the product. Before learning about the details, prospects need context. Explain in broad terms what your solution does and how it can specifically address the prospect’s needs. (This is a great opportunity to bring in what you’ve learned from the discovery process.) Don’t demonstrate every possible feature your product offers – focus on a handful that directly connect back to the prospect’s needs.

Whenever possible, try to integrate your solution’s unique selling points. Many prospects are wondering what makes your product better than other options. You want to give them an answer straight off—and then prove it during the rest of the demo.

4. Ask questions throughout the sales demo and solicit feedback to ensure you are on the right track.

There are very few people who can remain fully engaged when they’re simply being talked at for an hour. Build in opportunities for the prospect to talk about their concerns throughout the presentation. Open-ended but specific questions tend to work best for engagement.

Don’t be afraid to deviate from your script if you sense that the prospect is more interested in a feature other than the one you planned to discuss. Adapt your presentation based on what engages them the most.

5. Provide a realistic product experience by selecting a use case that is relevant to your prospect and showing them a “day in the life.”

Ideally, the use case should be something that the prospect faces regularly. You want to provide a realistic experience of what using the product is like in everyday circumstances.

Include a walkthrough of a person using the product in their daily tasks to demonstrate how it speeds up productivity. Make it feel realistic by imputing data that seems plausible instead of a string of 1s and 0s. You can even input their business’ name into the software during the demo.

6. Explain all of your clicks.

You are an expert on how to use your product, so it’s easy to speed through different screens. Consider the demo from the perspective of a prospect who has never used your product before. Things that seem basic to you may raise questions for them. Before rushing through a screen or menu, explain: “I am choosing to run the software in this mode because…”

7. Weave customer stories into the demo.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a sales rep, and you should make use of it during demos. When a natural opportunity arises, talk about customer experiences. Select stories that are most relevant to your prospect’s situation and relate the story back to the specifics of the sales demo. Explain, “Our customer used this feature in order to achieve their goals of x and y.”

Prioritize depth over quantity when telling stories. The demo isn’t the place for presenting a list of your biggest customers.

8. Conclude by discussing the next steps in the process and getting the prospect’s feedback.

Even if you’ve provided opportunities for the prospect to ask questions throughout the demo, you should set aside time in the end for them to ask additional questions and provide feedback. This is a good chance for you to gauge the prospect’s interest.

The most successful demos conclude with a clear discussion of what needs to happen next in the sales process. Do this by setting expectations and gaining agreement from your prospect that they are ready to move forward. Then, within the next 24 hours, send an email recapping the sales demo and reminding the prospect of the next step.