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7 steps to putting together a brilliant sales demo

As a business owner or sales professional, you know how important it is for potential customers to see what's under the hood before buying a car. A sales demo is one of the few sales activities that lets you reveal the inner workings of your product or service to an audience gathered especially to see it.

A good sales demo does more than just showcase your offering, however. It can also help you win over qualified sales prospects by connecting your product directly to their needs. That’s because people care less about the actual solution you’re selling, and more about the difference it can make in their lives.

In this article, we walk you through the steps to putting together a brilliant sales demo, and getting the most from it, by exploring questions designed to put you in the shoes of your prospects.

Table of contents

7 questions to ask yourself when putting together your sales demo:

  1. What does your prospect actually need?
  2. Who should be in the room during your demo?
  3. What selling approach should you take?
  4. How long should your sales demo be?
  5. What tools or technology will you need?
  6. How can you best show off your product or service?
  7. Can you preempt certain questions?

Key takeaways from this sales demo article

Prepare a successful demo: To create a tailored sales demo, start by understanding your prospect’s needs, involve key decision-makers and structure your presentation to address specific pain points.

Engaging your audience: Engage your audience with storytelling, interactive elements and by showcasing your product’s benefits in a relatable context, while managing time effectively.

Pipedrive’s features, including Scheduler and the Livestorm integration, help you set up, manage and deliver personalized, impactful sales demos that address your prospects’ needs. Try Pipedrive free for 14 days.

What is a sales demo?

A sales demo is a presentation you make to prospective buyers to demonstrate both the features of your product or service and the value they’re designed to deliver.

The overriding aim of a demo is to make it clear that:

  • You’re familiar with your prospect’s pain points
  • You understand what they need to achieve
  • Your solution can help them resolve specific problems or meet current goals

Sales demos are also effective sales tactics when setting your product or service apart from any competitive offerings. Even if your demo doesn’t make your prospect want to purchase your solution right away, it should at least get them moving in that direction.

7 questions to ask yourself when putting together your sales demo

Putting together a brilliant sales demo takes a bit of time and effort. But by investing in your sales presentation upfront, your audience is more likely to stay engaged, see the value of your solution and move further down your sales pipeline.

These seven questions will help put you in the shoes of your prospects, so you can figure out what steps you need to take to design an outstanding, relatable demo.

1. What does your prospect actually need?

Step 1: Nail down your prospect’s pain points and requirements

One of the surest paths to becoming a trusted sales advisor is doing the necessary work to find out who your prospects are and what’s troubling them. Once you know what potential customers need, or what their challenges are, you can tailor your sales demos to them.

To uncover important details about who you’re selling to, start by using company webinars or emails to gather key information.

For example, according to Livestorm’s Head of Sales Barnabe Lourdel, “You can use polls to gather feedback during your webinar, or add a survey to your promotional emails to gauge interest in various topics.”

The information you collect can then be used to guide your sales demos.

If you’re presenting to an individual client, rather than a group of interested leads, you may need to dig a little deeper by conducting some online research or speaking with them directly to gain a better understanding of their requirements.

  • What does their company do?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What specific issues are they experiencing?

Not only will the answers to these questions help clarify your prospect’s pain points, they’ll point you toward the product features or benefits to emphasize during your demo. The goal is to customize your presentation to your client’s situation.

Why customize your demo?

While it can be tempting to save time by creating a cookie-cutter demo you can use over and over, a certain amount of personalization in sales is important. Different industries, companies and clients, for example, may experience different challenges and opportunities.

Take a moment to think about how much more interested potential buyers become when you tailor your sales calls, pitches and prospecting efforts directly to them.

Sales demos are no different.

Research and preparation are essential for understanding your prospect’s specific needs, instilling confidence and eventually closing the sale.

Imagine that, like Pipedrive, your company sells a CRM used by a variety of sales organizations. Now imagine a car dealership company is considering using your product to record, track and follow up on car sales.

You wouldn’t re-use a demo based on common sales challenges and solutions; you’d look into car dealership problems and fixes specifically and build your presentation from there. Once your prospect had agreed to your demo, you’d then take steps to make sure the right people were going to be there.

2. Who should be in the room during your demo?

Step 2: Invite individuals with buying authority

Before presenting your demo, try to make sure key stakeholders and decision-makers will be attending.

To find out who those people are, ask your sales contact:

  • Who will be using this product or service?
  • Who will be approving its purchase?
  • How does your buying process unfold?

In many cases, B2B buying decisions are made by a company committee or a group of decision-makers from different departments. So, it’s important to understand the individual roles of the various stakeholders involved.

According to Gartner, customers who perceived the information they received from suppliers to be helpful in advancing across their buying jobs were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease.

In other words, the better you understand their roles, the easier you make it for stakeholders to come to a buying decision.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should focus all your efforts on those with the greatest seniority or purchasing influence. Everyone involved will have a say in any deal that eventually happens. So your demo sales pitch should deliver something of value to each invitee.

Confirm and follow up with invitees

Once you’ve determined who to invite and verbally confirmed their availability, you should immediately set a date and time for your demo and send a calendar invitation or RSVP email to each individual attending.

Don’t forget to include all the necessary log-in or dial-in information if you’re presenting by webinar or video conference. You may also want to brief invitees you’ve yet to connect with in-person on the highlights of your company and offering.

To prevent your hard work from going to waste, make sure you also:

  • Leave enough time before the demo date to prepare and practice your presentation
  • Get in touch with your prospect the day before your event to reconfirm that they, and their colleagues, will be attending
  • Are prepared to reschedule if key decision-makers have to postpone

Remember, while it’s important to do your best to ensure someone with the authority to make a purchase will be present, your demo should be structured to make an impact on every member of your audience.

If you discover after the fact that not all the decision-makers attended your sales demo, here’s a video that will help you make sure your sales contact progresses the conversation.

3. What selling approach should you take?

Step 3: Flesh out your sales demo structure

Although the point of any demo sales presentation is to show what your product can do, it’s equally important to show how it can be adapted to the needs of the prospect in front of you.

There are two things to keep in mind when determining your sales pitch approach.

  1. Showing your audience that you understand their situation is essential
  2. People are more likely to buy things they can easily understand

The initial research you carried out on your prospect will provide the foundation you need to:

  • Acknowledge their pain points at the start of your demo
  • Demonstrate exactly how your product or service can improve their current state of affairs
  • Focus on reiterating and resolving your customer’s specific problems throughout your presentation

In terms of pitch structure, storytelling is a great way to show your prospect you understand what they’re up against.

As human beings, we’re programmed to respond to stories. Not only do they help us remember information better, according to studies in neuroscience they also trigger the release of oxytocin—a pro-social brain chemical that makes us both care and feel safe.

By putting the capabilities of your solution into a colorful context, your prospect will better understand and relate to them.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid sharing facts, figures or statistics. Rather, you should find ways to weave product features or service benefits into stories of how they’ve helped existing, satisfied clients with similar challenges.

As you flesh out the structure for your demo, you should also make plans to:

  • Keep your audience engaged with short-answer questions throughout
  • Gather their thoughts on your offering immediately following your presentation
  • Ask your prospect directly what the next step in their decision-making process will be

The point is to gain input on the spot about how you can close any need-solution gap that may still exist.

If that’s not possible, make sure you at least follow up on your demo by forwarding a summary of points discussed to your prospect and offering to address any questions or concerns that come up.

4. How long should your sales demo be?

Step 4: Plan your demo agenda

To show respect for your audience (and prevent yourself from rambling on) sales demos need to ride that fine line between flexibility and a time-sensitive agenda.

Ideally, you’ll want to leave enough time for questions at the end, while trying to shave off as much time upfront as possible. Webinar statistics from Livestorm suggest that 30 minutes to an hour is a good rule of thumb for most demo timeframes.

It’s also worth noting that, for informal or group webinars or presentations especially, when you schedule your demo is just as important as how long it is.

Says Barnabe:

“Days of the week also come into play. Sales demos scheduled in the early morning or late at night are less likely to be attended. Aim to schedule your demo in the middle of the week, during working hours in your target geo, to get the best attendance results.”

Regardless of the structure or approach that you choose, you should begin your demo with a warm welcome, then take a moment to reconfirm your prospect’s needs and expectations vs. what you’re going to cover in the time set aside.

Letting your audience know what to expect, and updating them on your progress as you move through your demo, will help them feel at ease and help you stay on track.

It’s also important to respond to comments and questions along the way as much as you reasonably can. To avoid running overtime, be sure to emphasize that you’ve left time at the end of your demo for a more detailed Q&A session.

5. What tools or technology will you need?

Step 5: Choose and test your sales demo tools

Is your sales demo going to be delivered remotely, or by some other channel? To be as supportive as possible, try to make yourself available to demo your product or service in the way that works best for your prospect.

It’s not uncommon, for example, to walk customers through a sales demo over the phone, by live chat or by email. But face-to-face presentations usually prove most effective.

If you can't meet in person, consider using a video conferencing tool or video conferencing software like Livestorm (which can be integrated with Pipedrive) to present your product or service. Just make sure the video chat technology you choose allows for easy screen sharing and screen recording and includes features designed to streamline the demo sales process before, during and after your event.

Livestorm’s suggestion is to look for a tool that:

  • Is browser-based (to raise attendance and increase security)
  • Has engagement features (including chat, questions and polls)
  • Makes automatic recordings
  • Includes marketing features
  • Provides advanced analytics
  • Facilitates team collaboration

You might also consider taking advantage of valuable Pipedrive features and add-ons like Scheduler to set up and manage your sales demo invites.

Whichever tools or sales technology you use, just make sure you leave enough time to get familiar with what it can do and to verify it’s functioning the way you need it to well in advance of your demo.

6. How can you best show off your product or service?

Step 6: Get ready to show your solution in action

A sales demo is meant to showcase your product or service in action, so that’s what your prospects will be expecting to see. Whether you’re presenting virtually or in person, Barnabe suggests screen sharing as a great way to show off your solution.

“Use screen sharing during your demo to present your product to your audience. They can follow along with you in real-time and see exactly how your product can benefit them. You can also prepare videos in advance and upload them during your product demo, or add slides and other media. Take advantage of any opportunity to clearly define how your product will help your audience.”

If you’re using your computer to present, make sure you clean up your shared viewing environment and eliminate potential distractions by:

  • Removing unrelated or personal apps and icons from your screens
  • Closing out programs or web pages you won’t be using during your demo
  • Turning off audio and on-screen notifications for instant messaging or email communications

Adding your prospect’s company name or product line to your solution before your demo is another great way to help them visualize using it.

Remember, however, that a demo is not a sales training session. The point is to sell your client on your product, not teach them how to use it.

With that in mind, you’ll do a better job showing off the value your solution provides, says Barnabe, if you focus on answering any questions your prospects may have.

“Having a moderator on hand is a great way to field questions during your demo. A support representative can sit in the webinar room and provide helpful links to your help documentation during the webinar. At the end of the demo, you can then answer these questions in greater detail, showing your audience exactly what you mean with screen-sharing.”

7. Can you preempt certain questions?

Step 7: Be prepared to answer unavoidable questions

By digging to uncover the questions you’re most likely to be asked during your sales demo, you’ll find it easier to have answers ready. The better prepared you are to provide quick and helpful responses, the more likely you are to establish trust with your audience.

As you structure your open-call demo, for example, Lourdel offers this suggestion for preempting certain questions.

“Customize your landing pages to include forms that will gather key information from prospects. You can then tailor your demo to match this information.”

You may also want to check with other members of your sales team to find out which questions they typically get asked by new leads and prospects.

One common question you should expect is: “How much does your product or solution cost?” You’ll need to decide in advance whether you’re prepared to talk price, or whether you’ll be offering to provide a detailed sales proposal after your demo.

If you do decide to entertain questions about price, here are a few tips to help you navigate cost conversations.

  • Try to put your price in context by emphasizing the value your solution represents in terms of cost savings or increased revenue, for example
  • Do your homework and be prepared to lay out the ROI (return on investment) a specific prospect can expect
  • Aim to exceed expectations by “anchoring” your price to a higher number: introduce higher priced options first, for example, then work your way down to the cost of the best-fit solution for a particular client

Just like when storytelling, it’s worth using sales data to help prepare for and answer prospects’ questions. Numbers or percentages that reflect your product’s success, for example, can provide real value from a confidence-building and decision-making perspective.

Finally, make sure you record and use the questions and concerns raised during your sales demo to guide follow-up conversations and improve future interactions.

As Barnabe points out:

“Questions submitted through the question tab of your demo software (such as Livestorm) can be saved and used later to build better demos. You can even use the questions to inspire blog articles or other pieces of content and send follow-up emails to attendees with this new content.”

Final thoughts

Now that you’ve laid out the steps you’ll need to take to put together a brilliant sales demo, it should be clear that understanding your audience, knowing your product inside and out and going in prepared are critical to your success.

Before you step up and present, do a pre-demo check.

  • Have you tailored your delivery to the needs of your prospect? Make sure you’ve asked your audience in advance, for example, whether there are specific features or details they’d like explained during your demo.
  • Are there any product features or results you’re unclear about? Reach out to your sales manager, product development team or marketing department to get the answers you need.
  • Have you practiced your demo out loud? Rehearsing and recording yourself in front of a mirror or your computer’s camera will help you pick up on nervous mannerisms or repetitive verbal habits that can put clients off.

Practicing what you’re going to say in advance will also help you feel more relaxed during your sales demos and will leave you better prepared to answer your audience’s questions clearly and confidently.

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