What's a Sales Demo? The Full Guide to Successful Demos

Buyers today have more options to choose from than ever before. Just take a look at G2 or any other software review site, and you’ll see that your list of competitors is growing by the day.

According to Forrester Research, 74% of B2B buyers do at least half of their research online before they buy. Therefore, sales professionals must stand out in the way they approach their prospects, and most importantly, when presenting the product or software. That’s why the demo is one of the most crucial phases in the sales process. 

The first impression is key. It is no longer about seducing the prospect or doing a sales pitch: It’s when you reveal your product for the first time, and when it comes to sales, there’s no second chance to make a first impression. 

This article covers everything you need to know to prepare and create a sales demo that converts.

But first, let’s start at the very beginning.

What’s a sales demo?

A sales demo is the phase of a sales process where a team member (usually a sales rep) makes a presentation that demonstrates the value and benefits of a product or software to a prospect. The demo’s main objective is to show how your product (and its features) solves your prospect pain points, and to position your solution as the most efficient tool to achieve this goal.  

Are sales demos the same as product demos?

Marketers and salespeople frequently use these two terms interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference in their purposes and the audience they serve.

A sales demo’s audience is a prospect interested in knowing more about the product. And its purpose is to convert a lead or make a sale.

On the other hand, the audience for a product demo is usually an existing customer who wants to know how the product features can benefit them.

Why do sales demos matter?

If you ever want to close more deals and improve your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), then you need to pay attention to how you present your sales demos. 

Why? Because a sales demo is usually the difference between closing a deal or not.

You could have the most amazing software product in your niche or the best customer service but still have poor sales numbers if your demos suck. 

When done right, your sales demo gives you the chance to highlight your unique selling points, show how your products can change a prospect’s life or business, and give them reasons to choose you over the competition.

When do sales demos happen?

Sales demos usually happen in the later stages of a buyer’s journey as they move through the sales funnel. 

A buyer’s journey usually starts with prospects reading a blog post or video that makes them aware of your product. 

Buyer's journey infographic

The journey then moves on to the consideration stage. At the consideration stage, the buyer will want to know how your product can solve their specific problems and help them achieve certain business goals. Buyers often indicate they’re considering your products by joining your email list, downloading a whitepaper, or attending your webinars.

After considering your product, buyers read your case studies (to see how you’ve helped businesses like theirs), check your pricing (to know if it’s within their budget), and finally schedule a demo, to know how your software can solve their unique problems. 

What is the goal of a sales demo?

Prospects who make it to the demo stage of a sales process are interested in what you have to offer. 

Using Eugene Schwartz’s customer awareness levels, you can say that these prospects are already “product aware.” Meaning they know your product and your competitors’ but haven’t chosen any yet as they’re still analyzing the best solution for them.

The goal of your sales demo is to present your product as the best solution to solve a prospect’s pain points. And to make these prospects choose you and become paying customers.

Who usually presents a sales demo?

In most companies, presenting a sales demo to prospects is usually the responsibility of a sales rep. But it’s not limited to them alone. A sales executive, solution engineer, or other organization members can also present a sales demo. 

Where does a sales demo happen?

Most sales demos these days happen online rather than in-person. Those in-person presentations don’t often work because it’s hard to find a time slot that fits you and your prospects. And let’s not talk about COVID. 

Your sales demo delivery option needs to be flexible to accommodate to your prospects’ needs. 

The most common delivery systems include (live) video chat, phone calls, and pre-recorded videos.

How to deliver a successful sales demo

Now that the basics about sales demos are out of the way, it’s time to know how to create and present sales demos that convert. 

Getting prospects to say “yes” after a sales demo doesn’t come by chance. Here are some steps you need to take that will help you get more “yes”s than “we’ll get back to you” responses.

We’ve grouped the steps into three categories — before, during, and after the sales demo.

Preparing before a sales demo starts

Study and research your prospect

One of the biggest sales demo mistakes sales reps make is that they don’t fully understand their prospects. 

For your sales demo to be successful, you need to research and understand your prospect like the back of your hands. Understanding your prospect goes beyond knowing your prospect’s name, job title, and where they work. 

You need to be able to identify their interests, needs, and pain points. You can achieve this by performing good old online research. 

Type in your prospect’s name and company into Google to see what comes up. Check their profile on LinkedIn and other social media platforms as well, to know who they are, what they’re talking about, and to collect professional information about them.

All the insights you find would serve as ammo for when you hop on a discovery call with the prospect before scheduling a demo.

If done right, the discovery call would help you unearth challenges your prospects are hoping to overcome and make it a no-brainer for them to book a demo. 

Schedule your demo 

Once your prospect has decided to book a demo, it’s time to choose a meeting software or screen sharing tool that allows you to successfully run the demo.

The most popular options here are Zoom and Skype. But there are other tools like Whereby, WebEx, and JoinMe.

Try to get as many key decision-makers to join in on the demo. Send personalized messages to remind your prospects of your demos (you’d be surprised at how many people forget they scheduled a demo).

Set the plan or agenda for the demo

Much like a skeleton, an agenda provides structure to your sales demo. Without a plan, your demo might be all over the place and not flow as it’s supposed to. 

It’s good practice to use the information you gathered from your earlier research to create your sales demo agenda. 

Typically, the agenda should include:

  • An introduction where you welcome and establish common grounds with your leads. Your aim here is to find a human-to-human connection with your prospect
  • A brief research recap. Weave the challenges or pain points you found during your research into a story that your prospect can see themselves in
  • The product presentation, which is the whole point of the meeting. Here you describe your product’s value and position it as the solution to your prospect’s pain
  • A recap that serves as a summary of the sales demo. This is the part where you allow your prospects to ask questions that can help you discover other pain points they have
  • Process for next steps. Lay down the process prospects need to follow to close the deal

Sharing the demo agenda with prospects would help them prepare better for the demo and know what to expect. 

You might not consider it a big deal, but when you let prospects know the agenda for the demo, it puts their minds at ease and makes them trust you more — and you’re surely going to need all the trust you can get.

Test Everything Before Starting

Double-check all your equipment and tech you plan to use for your demo to ensure everything is running fine. 

It can be quite embarrassing to have your tools acting up while you’re in the middle of a presentation. Not only can this make you lose your composure or train of thought, but it can also quickly cause your prospects to become disinterested in your demo.

As a little checklist, make sure you test your:

  • Internet
  • Video calling/Screen sharing tool
  • Microphone or audio settings and
  • Room lighting

Even the best checks and re-checks, the truth remains that “whatever could go wrong, would go wrong.” It’s sad, but that’s life. 

However, with a demo tool like Walnut, you can run your demos in a capsulated environment. That’s our fancy way of saying our tech ensures that your demos run as smooth as butter without any bugs or loading times.

Write a script and rehearse your demo

Aside from your tech, you also need to check what you want to say. It’s no use having a great internet connection and zero bugs only for you to stammer your way through the presentation. 

So instead of leaving things to chance, it’d be great to write a script you plan to use. Of course, the script isn’t set in stone, and some things might change as you go along. The script’s point is to help you identify important issues you don’t want to miss. 

When you rehearse your script well, you’ll also become more confident during your presentation.

Create personalized demos — at scale 

Each prospect is unique, so don’t try to use a blanket format for your sales demos. 

Before the demo, you must have uncovered some pain points and challenges that your prospects face, so personalize your demo to address your prospects’ specific pains.

Personalization also means that you focus on the features of your products that can help your prospects. There is no need to tell them everything your product can do if it doesn’t apply to their business.

Just like with emails or any other form of outreach, personalization goes a long way in warming up your prospect and making them primed to listen to what you have to say.

With Walnut, your sales team can easily customize their demos - from the logos to the texts, features, figures, and more. You can also learn, optimize and duplicate your demos for each vertical, allowing you to scale and create much faster and higher quality demos.

Walnut demo creation ad

What to do during a sales demo

You’ve scheduled the demo, and it’s now time to make your presentation. Here are some steps that will help you wow your prospects with your demo.

Don’t jump right into the demo

Yes, you read that right. Sure, you want to show prospects all the fancy things your product can do and have them nodding their heads in agreement. But not so fast.

More than all things else, your prospects are humans too. As such, they crave human connections, even during a sale demo.

Imagine you’re at a car dealership and two sales reps approach you. 

The first sales rep goes, “Hey, you see, this car’s engine has the power of 24 horses”. With a smile on his face, the second sales rep says, “Hey, I see you’re looking at minivans. Are you planning a family trip soon?

Which of these sales reps would you want to attend to you?

The second guy, right? Yes, the second guy would still try to sell you a car just like the first guy, but because of the human-to-human interaction he created, you’ll feel drawn to him.

The same goes for your sales demo. 

While you don’t want to use all your time for chit-chat, you must create an atmosphere that allows you to know each other. More generally, it’s essential to build a strong relationship with your prospect.

Manage your time smartly

SaaS buyers, especially in the B2B industry, are conscious of time. 

You can respect your prospect’s time by following the schedule you created for the sales demo. 

It can be tempting to go overboard, especially when you have a lot of things to say. But you need to resist that temptation and follow a schedule or timeline instead. 

Using the demo agenda we mentioned earlier, here’s what the time structure for your sales demo should look like:

  • Introduction: 5 minutes
  • Research recap: 5 minutes
  • Demo: 20 - 30 minutes
  • Feedback and question: 10 minutes
  • Next steps: 5 minutes

Focus on benefits over features

Prospects don’t usually care about your product’s features unless it helps them achieve a personal or business goal. 

Instead of providing your prospects with a list of all the features of your product, it’d be better if you focus on highlighting your products’ benefits.

You can borrow a leaf from Apple’s marketing campaign for the iPod. Instead of saying the iPod has 8GB memory (a feature), Apple said 1000 songs in your pocket (a benefit that their audience cares about).

Like Apple, make sure to use your prospect’s language when communicating the value of your products.

Where necessary, you can pull out case studies and testimonials that show prospects how similar businesses like theirs have used your products to overcome their problems.

Like Mike DeCorso formulated brilliantly in his interview for Walnut: “People want the hole, not the shovel". 

Keep the presentation simple

The sale demo’s goal is to close a deal and not impress prospects with your vast vocabulary and technical jargon. 

Instead of using big words that make prospects pick up the dictionary, use simple concepts and expressions that your prospect is already familiar with.

Address objection

Don’t be afraid of objections. In fact, you should expect them. If you go through your presentation without objections, it might show that your prospects are not interested in your product.

One common objection that comes up during sales demos is the issue of pricing. According to Gong, unsuccessful demos also spend 8% more time “talking price” than successful demos.

You need to take your time to research your prospects before your demo. From your research, you should have been able to gauge how much your prospect is willing to spend - allowing you to manage the pricing topic more efficiently.

If the prospect still isn’t satisfied with your offer, the best way to handle it isn’t by reducing your price but by positioning your product as an investment instead of a business cost. 

You can also handle other objections by actively listening to the prospects to identify their underlying fears and concerns.

Always ask questions to confirm that you have handled any objections.

time talking pricing

Ask questions and encourage engagement

A sales demo is not supposed to be a monologue, as these kinds of demos bore prospects fast.

Be willing to allow dialogue that might help you understand how your product can help your prospect better. 

Many sales reps hesitate to welcome questions because they feel they might not know the answers. It’s fine if you don’t know the answers. You’re not the Riddler - and if you are, big fan, keep it up. 

Note down difficult questions that come up during your presentation and tell your prospects you’ll address them when you’re following up. 

Sometimes, you can even create questions of your own that’ll help you get personal and earn more trust with your prospects.

What to do after a sales demo

Conclude with a Call To Action and define the next steps

Like calls to action on a landing page drives visitors to take action, so do CTAs at the end of your demo.

Your CTA should help prospects identify the next steps they need to take now that the sales demo is complete.

If the prospect is ready to start using your product, what steps should they take? The best sales reps usually have the answer to this question even before they start the demo. According to the same research we mentioned earlier, winning product demos involve 12.7% more time devoted to discussing “Next Steps” at the end of the call. 

Follow up

After the demo, send a follow-up email to your prospect to remind them of the next steps they need to take to complete the sales process.

Remember proper email etiquette when sending follow-up emails. Be patient and polite even though you’re trying to close a deal. Don’t send a follow-up two hours after the demo — give some time.

Also, include a summary of your discussion while highlighting your USP and benefits and the next steps. 

If the prospects asked a question you couldn’t answer during the demo, you could also include it here.

Start creating sales demos that close deals

You’ve seen that demos are a vital part of your sales process, and by now, you must have picked up a thing or two that’ll help you create demos that close deals.

Remember that your prospect should be the main focus of the demo, not you or your product. You’re only acting as a guide to help your prospect solve their problems while using your product.

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