3 Simple Tips For Killer Demos | Stop Wasting A Critical Step In Your Sales Cycle

*This is a guest post from one of the best SE minds I’ve ever met, Zach Lawryk. He was an early SE hire @ Box and helped us onboard and scale this incredibly important function. He has been in presales, for some of the fastest growing companies and sales teams in history. Starting with salesforce.com, Get Satisfaction and Box. He now leads Sales Engineering at Optimizely and loves a great demo.*
A captive audience is a gift often squandered. Most demos are bad. Demos are often treated as a selfish exercise with the only two intentions being 1) to finish a meeting with zero objections and 2) to speed through a laundry list of features. “Any questions?” – “No” – “FANTASTIC”.  A wasted opportunity. 
How many opportunities do you get with a customer, where almost everyone above and below the decision making line is interested and engaged? It is a special opportunity to differentiate you, your team, and especially your product, including services and solutions. I have spent years preparing, delivering, and strategizing, on how to deliver impactful demos for some of fastest growing technology companies and sales teams in history. A great demo does not require great charisma, public speaking skills, or years of professional polish. Any sales human can be taught to deliver an effective demo, pitch and/or presentation – and taught to do it well.
To soak up every ounce of this unique opportunity with a prospect, there are three simple tactics to ensure a successful demo. You must first set the intention for the interaction. If you set a clear intention for the demonstration, your demo will be better than 99% of all presentations that do not. Second, you must empathizewith the audience and put yourself in the shoes of the customer – this isn’t the time to be selfish. Third, you must be authentic. Don’t pretend to be someone or something you are not; a customer can smell your bullshit over the phone. 
Let’s unpack these. 
1. Make your intentions clear
This seems obvious, but I am often surprised by how many sales humans jump into a demo or presentation without first stating the objective of the meeting. Why are you demoing? Why do you deserve the time of your attendees?How is your intention tied to the business goals and objectives of your audience?
2. Empathy: Understand your audience
Leave nothing to the imagination. If you can demo something to solve a specific problem and empathize with your audience, do it. If you don’t know the problem you are trying to solve, be consultative. Be the expert and tease out the business problems. Everything you demo should be targeted to the customer, no matter what. The demo is not about you. The demo is about the audience. Take a moment to understand 3 things, listed as questions in order of priority. If you can’t answer these three questions, find out how:
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is their goal for your interaction? -they are there for a reason, what is it? what is a ‘successful’ interaction for your audience?
  • What is your objective or desired outcome, post-interaction? Meaning, how will this demo accelerate your sales cycle? -everything for a reason, intention is everything – what are the ideal immediate and long-term outcomes of this interaction
3. Authenticity is obvious
You must be authentic. Polish and charisma does not immediately translate into effectiveness. Remember, this is not about you or your company. This is about your customer and their potential investment. Bad delivery of any presentation is often rooted in the presenter pretending. Pretending to talk, sound, present, or behave like someone other than themselves. People connect with authenticity and connect with vulnerability. You aren’t recording a car commercial, you are having a conversation. Be yourself. 
A demo is the ultimate proof point in a sales cycle. It is the opportunity for a presenter to convince an audience that their solution will solve one or a series of problems. Don’t squander this unique gift. 
1. Set (and revisit) a mutual intention.
2. Empathize with (or understand) your audience. 
3. Be authentic. 
A demo is an opportunity to connect emotionally above and below the line – to tell your story and leave a lasting impression – and following these guidelines allows anybody to deliver an effective demo. Don’t waste another opportunity to make an impact and close that sale!

*You can learn more about Rocky on Linkedin or on Twitter

* If you see an acronym or word anywhere on the site that you haven’t seen before, I might have posted an explanation here If not tell me and I’ll add it!*

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