How to maximize the effectiveness of your sales demo environment


Author: Barry Mueller

The demo environment is where the magic happens.

Your sales engineering team transforms the patched-together sales demo into a customized deal-maker. Your sales team is absolutely killing it, removing all doubts and winning buyer buy-in. Your company is closing deals at an ever-increasing rate.

Everything’s perfect.

Unfortunately, it's also a fantasy.

In reality, giving effective sales demos is often a disjointed and frustrating experience. Several things can go wrong, and getting prospects to visualize your product in their world—how it’s the perfect fit—is easier said than done.

But this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Creating a successful sales demo environment that connects your demo with your prospect's pain points, is personalized and efficiently addresses their concerns, and explains the “why should you choose us“ question—can stack the odds in your favor.

What is a sales demo environment?

A sales demo environment is the total environment in which you present your products to prospects, including the demo instance, what you show within the demo, and how you deliver it.

Think of it this way: if your product is a movie’s main character, your sales demo environment is the entire movie set. The better your movie set, the stronger your main character will look, making it more likely for the audience to like the movie.

Every sales organization has a sales demo environment, and yours is no exception. How well you optimize it to achieve the intended results is on you, though.

4 tips to build the perfect sales demo environment

Think about the last time you received a demo with a less than ideal demo environment. The sales rep had a poor video connection. Or perhaps they were in a noisy place and executed the demo badly.

You had likely second thoughts about buying the product, maybe even passed on it. That’s why having a good demo environment is critical to delivering good demo experiences.

Let’s look at four sales demo environment best practices to help you maximize the outcomes of your demos:

1 — Prepare a good sales demo script

Your sales demo experience should be flexible and adaptable, but a sales demo script gives it just the right structure to help you cover all the key points to keep the demo on track.

Outline the main sections of your demo, followed by filling in each section with specific details about your product. Ensure to include relevant features, benefits, and the “why“ behind your product. Think: Why is X an important solution to fix? Why is this a top priority? Why should the prospect buy now?

Leave some room for questions and conversations towards the end of the demo to remove doubts.

Using storytelling in product demos is incredibly important to maximize the effect.

Make your sales demo in the form of a story, giving it a beginning, middle, and end—and put your prospect under the spotlight. Take a benefit-focused approach, where you answer: “This is what our product can do for your organization.”

  • Mention where your product fits in your prospect’s daily schedule
  • Discuss how it’ll make their lives easier
  • Talk about which pain points it eliminates
  • Show how it can solve their problems and improve results

Incorporating realism and relatable scenarios stir just the right emotions within the prospects, making them sit up and take notice of what you’re saying.

2 — Get the housekeeping stuff out of the way

Your sales demo environment goes beyond the product. It’s also the slides, charts, statistics, and tools you use, as well as those who present the demo.

  • Sort out your hardware and software. Help your sales team deliver quality demos by giving them the appropriate hardware and software. Provide them with clean and updated desktops, strong internet connections, good-quality cameras, and microphones. Configure the screen-sharing permissions of the conferencing tool to avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Make your cursor clearly visible. This may seem trivial but can make a big difference in the overall demo experience. Prospects want to see where your cursor is, what you’re clicking on, and where you’re guiding them. The last thing you want is to confuse them or look at lost faces. So, make your cursor visible enough.
  • Check demo availability. Check your demo's performance ahead of time to ensure it's available and working correctly. Make it fast and responsive.
  • Get the right people on the call. Ensure you have the right people during the demo from both sides. For example, it may be the sales engineer or account executive from your side and the decision-maker or departmental head from the prospect’s end.

Prepare a checklist of things to do before, during, and after your demo. This way, you can ensure everything is covered and prepared for, helping you deliver a great demo.

3 — Establish a personal connection

In her article for Cirrus Insight, Erica Desmond points out, “Customers want to see how the product works, if it solves their unique problems (without generating any new ones in the process), and how simple or complex it is to use.”

Your sales demo environment should make the prospect feel your sales team is there to help them achieve this and that they understand their needs—but you can’t ensure this if you jump to the business conversation right away.

Take the first few minutes to build trust and create an emotional connection with your prospect.

How do you do that?

  • Research the hell out of your prospect. Understand who the person attending the meeting is and what their company does. What would they want to see? What do they care about? What kind of data or examples are the most relevant to them? Look them up on social media platforms to find common talking points to break the ice and build a rapport.
  • Summarize past conversations in your sales demo. Check your CRM to see whether there are any previous interactions between you and the prospect. This will ensure you cover the key points discussed in previous conversations, making the prospects feel you actively listened to their needs. Also, take notes during the demo to follow up with any questions or concerns later.
  • Speak their language. Make an effort to speak your prospect’s language and demonstrate you understand their industry and common challenges. Looking at their website and previous email exchanges between you and them is a good starting point to identify common words and phrases they use and then use the same lingo when giving the demo to create familiarity.

In addition, make the sales demo environment interactive and engaging. Your prospect doesn’t want to just sit down and listen to your talk. So, encourage cross-questioning; even better if they can try your product themselves to gauge whether your product is the right fit for their needs.

4 — Customize your sales demo — and then personalize some more

Make your prospects feel like they are in their natural environment. To do this, you need to understand what their ideal outcomes are, the problems they are looking to solve, their pain points, their use cases, and their needs.

Clearly, presenting a generic sales demo isn’t going to cut it.

Take your sales demo experience to the next level by connecting the demo instance to your prospect’s pain points and focusing it on your product’s benefits instead of its features. Emphasize how they can use your product to overcome challenges.

Do this well, and your prospect will see the value in your solution. Do it wrong, and you risk using the deal.

The following are a few additional sales demo customization tips to help enhance your demo experience:

  • Don’t label things “demo.” According to Peter Cohen, customers often unconsciously translate the word "demo" to mean fake. Labeling anything “demo“ in your (ironically) demo environment— file names, login names, dashboards, or module tables—causes the same result. Use neutral names or a naming convention that feels realistic instead.
  • Avoid using fictional names. From movie stars to sports figures to illustrated authors, we’ve seen many sales teams using the names of famous characters in a demo. While this is a good tactic to easily remember names, there’s also a huge disadvantage: it screams fake. Swap your dummy data with realistic names, logos, and data relevant to the prospect.
  • Ensure market alignment. Fake data is obviously bad, but so is using data that isn’t relevant to your prospect’s market. Your data, vocabulary, demo samples, and use cases should match—or at least be close to—the prospect’s specific market or vertical. Have a fairly neutral set of data that can be customized or configured to map to specific markets. You also don’t want your sales team to use statements like, “Trust us, we can help you.“ Help them demonstrate value and show the prospect how your product is the perfect solution for their requirements.
  • US vs. International. Showing US-focused demo environments when presenting to non-US audiences is another common sales demo mistake sales teams make. If you’re selling to a UK-based company, use pounds, spellings and vocabulary, British addresses and postal codes, and other units and measures used in their target markets and countries. The same goes for other companies in, say, Asia or Europe. Having region-specific data helps customers visualize using your product within their environment, improving your chances of closing the deal.

Investing in a demo experience platform is also key to giving effective, powerful demos that win deals in today’s hyper-digitized sales scenario.

It allows you to showcase your product in the best possible light, enabling your prospect to understand its value faster. Use it to tell an immersive product story customized to your prospect’s specific needs and use cases to maximize the demo outcome.

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