How to run product demos that sell

Viktor Hatfaludi
January 28, 2023
5 mins

You can have as many customer calls as you want - if you don’t know how to inspire people you’re not gonna close. Demos are just one of many ways you can get your prospects’ attention.

Since starting my sales career I’ve given over 1,000 demos of highly technical products because I was raised to “always do a demo” which was the mantra of all managers at the company.

And while that’s not the best approach I’ll get into when and how you should run demos if you want to increase your conversions and deal size.

By the end of this blog post you’ll have a framework that you can apply to your own product to make your demos stand out. Let’s get started!

PS: you can download the framework in PDF format here:

The 3 types of demos

First of all there’s no such thing as a universal demo. To get results it HAS to be tailored to the person you’re showing it to - to their needs and where they are in the sales cycle.

The goal can either be to inspire, commit, or to enable them.

1. Demos that inspire

If your goal is getting the prospect on a discovery call you’ll need them to be INTERESTED and so it’s your job to INSPIRE them to take action and leave the status quo behind. NOT an easy feat.. and you also don’t have much time because at THIS stage the prospect does not have a reason to TRUST you yet. These demos should be short and sweet.

2. Demos that commit

Once you’re past discovery the goal changes. You’ll want them to COMMIT to giving your product a try. This requires a WHOLE DIFFERENT approach. You want them to FEEL like the status quo is no longer acceptable and that starts by connecting pain and impact.

(There’s a video of me explaining how to do this during Discovery so be sure to check it out after this one. Link will be in the description below.)

By the end of this demo they should confirm that you’ve understood WHAT they want to accomplish and move on to the next stage.

3. Demos that enable

And when you’re ready to kick off the POC you’ll wanna make sure that the folks are set up for success by GUIDING them through step by step what they will need to do and how. No - this isn’t the same as the POC kickoff or checking in on their progress. This is is a precursor that HAS to finish with them having a CLEAR picture and AGREEING to a Mutual Action Plan (or MAP for short). Without a MAP you’re leaving the POC to fate.

Before I break down the structure let’s talk about some major mistakes to avoid.

Top 5 mistakes when running demos

1. Talking too much

Where most people go wrong is thinking that a demo is show and tell so they end up doing all the talking - which cannot be further from the truth. A demo is a tool that gets your buyer engaged and to open up about insights that you can use to get you closer to winning the deal.

2. Feature slapping

These same people are prone to feature slapping which is cramming as many functions as possible into the time frame, THINKING that the more the product is capable of the MORE valuable it will seem to the prospect. Little do they know that BECAUSE OF this prospects will start asking for discounts as they PERCEIVE they won’t even use HALF the features your product has.

3. Getting too technical

Another common mistake is thinking your prospect will care AS MUCH about the tech as you do - so you get too technical and bore them to death. The majority of people ONLY care about the potential IMPACT your product will have on their lives so keep your demos short and sweet.

4. Same demo for everyone

A similar mistake is being GENERIC instead of personalising which tends to happen when reps don’t prepare AHEAD of time. TAILOR the demo to your audience and pick out the top 3 (MAX 5) features that drive impact for them. If there are MULTIPLE stakeholders consider separate demo calls because..

5. Inviting too many people

Counterintuitively inviting too many buyers will kill your discovery. People are afraid they might look dumb in front of their peers and will avoid asking important questions if they feel they should already know the answer - leaving you in the dark about what matters to them. INSTEAD split up the calls into MULTIPLE demo sessions for EACH persona and tailor your demo to THEIR specific needs. In doing so you’ll seem more relevant which will increase your win rates.

The winning demo structure

Now let’s take a look at how the demo STRUCTURE should look.

Chances are this is the FIRST TIME the prospect will see your product.

Think back to the last time you did something for the first time.

I bet you had to wrap your head around WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING and then figure out how to do it. And THAT’S EXACTLY how we’re going to run the demo.

Essentially you’ll want to

1. set the stage (what are we seeing here?),

2. mention what we will do here and why should they care,

3. then SHOW them how it’s done.

4. And then you close.

Repeat this for each feature.

5 advanced demo tips

Once you get the hang of running demos you can make them EVEN BETTER using techniques that engage your prospects and increase impact. To list 5 basic ones:

1. You can use customer stories to grab their attention and make them interested in how others achieved similar results

2. Keep it to the point and avoid filler words

3. Play with pace: speed up to increase excitement and use effective pauses when you want to give them room to digest what you said

4. Contrasting: compare what you’re showing directly to how it looks when using the status quo

5. and lastly: Engage with questions after each section to keep their attention up</aside>

Watch me demo

Now let’s see what this looks like in action.

I’m going to demo the Bitrise platform which is a developer tool used to streamline mobile app development.

I’m going to show an INSPIRATIONAL demo to a Principal iOS Engineer at an enterprise company. This persona cares about

1. the Productivity of the team ESPECIALLY about distributing knowledge so they can run a SUSTAINABLE business even if a senior leaves.

2. Tooling that SCALES so they can STAY competitive while keeping budgets in check, and

3. future-proofing the tech stack because changing suppliers is EXPENSIVE in terms of loss of productivity, cost of migration, and opportunity cost of time spent on making the change.

Let’s go!

Watch the demo here from (4:19)

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Viktor Hatfaludi
January 28, 2023
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Meet Your Trainer

Viktor has 10+ years of full-cycle experience in tech sales.

His latest contribution was helping Bitrise (YC W17) scale from 3M to 20M+ USD in recurring revenue.

Today he’s a Sales Consultant and Trainer at Revenue Ramp helping B2B Startups go from $0 to $10M ARR.

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