The Art of the Sales Demo: How to Turn Demonstrations into Customers

Sales professionals have an arsenal of sales tools at their disposal, but one of the most powerful sales tools is the sales demonstration. Delivering an impactful sales demonstration is not as easy as it may seem. It certainly takes practice and refinement, and once a sales professional approaches the demonstration as an art, rather than as a set of rigid guidelines, the sales demo flows a little more easily. If you’re struggling with turning your demonstrations into customers, try some of our suggestions and strategies and tweak them to make them your own.

Before the Sales Demo

Preparing for your sales demonstration is half the battle. You need to be focused, prepared for your specific audience, and convinced that you have done all that you can to get your prospect to view the demo as a valuable use of time. Think back to your high school English classes: if you had a stellar teacher, she probably told you always to consider your audience before writing or speaking. That advice holds true in your sales demo.

You need to approach the demo from your potential buyers’ points of view. Anticipate the questions, concerns, and hesitations they will bring to the demo. But, be cautious: don’t assume that you know all of their needs. Have a list of questions in mind to ask to help you zero in on their needs, and remember to be prepared with follow-up questions that drill down to their motivations.

Another pre-demo strategy is to put yourself into the mindset of a conservative buyer. Your client may be leery of you and your product because of its cost, potential to disrupt established business practices, etc. Your prospect also may not be as ready and willing to make a final decision at the demonstration, and you need to know how you will handle the hesitation. Be prepared to schedule a follow-up call and confirm the details before you leave, to transform your prospect into your customer.

During the Sales Demo

It is important to remain focused during the delivery of your sales demonstration. Keep tabs on your prospects’ body language to gauge interest. You should make sure that you are engaging your prospect with visuals and hands-on opportunities to interact with the product. This will generate interest and establish a sense of ownership of the product for the potential buyer. Provide samples, pictures, videos, or other tools to help you spur interest and convey ownership; these proof devices provide tangible evidence of what you are saying. This will help your prospects to trust you, so that they are more inclined to become your customer.

This also is your chance to evaluate your prospects’ needs and timeline. The questions we mentioned earlier are an integral part of the sales demonstration. To ensure that you are getting as much useful information from your prospect as possible, make sure that you ask follow-up questions when she makes comments or asks questions about the product. Get to the heart of her needs by asking questions that force her to give specific answers, rather than a “yes” or a “no.”

Another questioning tip for use during the demonstration is to enquire about the prospect’s motivation for allowing you to demo in the first place. Asking a question such as, “What prompted you to look into our product?” is more powerful than asking, “What are your needs?” The buyer should reflect on his needs, challenges, desire to change, timeline, etc. when you frame your question about his inspiration for meeting with you, rather than asking him point-blank about his needs.

Of course, listening to your potential buyers is just as important as questioning them. You need to be sure you are taking the time to hear their answers, rather than half-listening while planning your next question or move. Listening closely enough to potential buyers gives you the opportunity to examine their needs and challenges through their answers and shows that you will be a valuable partner in the future.

After the Sales Demo

Babette Ten Haken, founder and president of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, explains that the steps you take after your sales demo are just as important as preparing for and delivering the sales demo. She offers five important things to consider after you demonstrate your product for potential buyers. We highlight our three favorites below:

1. Be proactive and anticipate closing opportunities: Consider the factors that play into your prospect’s decision to buy: corporate culture, timeline, and decision-making process. Then, make sure you are “ready to act on these factors and impact their decision to buy.”

2. Collaborate with your sales engineer at every step of the demo process: Take a team approach to the demo with your sales engineer. Collaborate to gain a better understanding of your potential customer and to determine the best approach for your potential buyer.

3. Identify additional opportunity in your prospect’s culture: Divide and conquer your potential client’s team with your sales engineer. Identify which contacts are better for each of you to approach and increase your chances of getting more of the stakeholders and decision makers to choose your solution.

Sales demonstrations are a powerful sales tool when you refine the art of delivering them, fully prepare prior to the demonstration, ask questions of your prospects and listen to their answers, and follow-up correctly. This preparation and hard work will help you turn your demonstrations into customers.

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