“Can We See a Demo?”

Many companies place a great deal of reliance on demos to showcase their products and services.  While a demo can be a great way to show off your product, often it is not being properly utilized to close business.

Salespeople arrive at the meeting, anxious to “demo” their product to show how it will improve the prospect’s situation.  They demo every feature and discuss every benefit.  Typically when the demo is finished, the prospect expresses interest, says he needs some time to think it over, and invites the salesperson to follow up in a week or two.  Whatever the final result, salespeople don’t seem to be very effective at using demos to close business.

It’s yet another case of the buyer using his system successfully.  He gets the salesperson to cough up his information (the product demo) early in the cycle, carefully avoids making a commitment when the demo is concluded, and forces the salesperson to invest considerable time following up.  Unfortunately, sellers are convinced that if the prospect would just take the time to see how the product works, he’d recognize the benefits and buy.  Too bad that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.  The real problem lies not with the demo itself, but with the way the salesperson deals with the opportunity.

Use your demo to close business.

A prospect that asks for or agrees to a demo is not necessarily a qualified prospect.  Take the time to find out not only what the issues are, but also his budget and decision making process.  And when you do agree to do a demo, make sure you’ve asked these three questions beforehand:

  • “What challenges are you having that you want the demo to address?”
  • “How will you determine if those issues were addressed successfully?”
  • “Assuming we are able to address your issues successfully, what would happen at the end of the demo?”

By getting answers to these questions you’ll be able to accomplish several very important things.  First, you can focus the demo on the prospect’s pain and avoid showing other features that may not be relevant.  Second, you’ll get an understanding of how your demo will be measured and you’ll have the right to ask whether or not you were successful.  Finally, you’ll know what the next step should be and avoid the ubiquitous “I need to think it over.”  In fact, you may even get an order.

Self-Study Assignment:  A demo can be a lot of things, not just a demonstration of equipment, hardware, or software.  Identify situations within your product and service mix where prospects want to “see something” and whether or not the above approach will work.  Remember, demos can be a good opportunity to close business, not just to do “unpaid consulting.”