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Top 3 ways to win the deal with a live sales demo

When meeting with a customer or potential client, objectives are crucial.

To enter the room without a desired outcome or direction is like embarking on a time-sensitive road trip without establishing your route. You know where you want to end up, but you haven’t figured out a way to get there in the time required.

This lack of adequate planning results in delays, frustration, and costly detours to everyone in the vehicle. And worst of all, your passenger (who got into the car under the impression you knew the route) may decide to travel with someone who has planned better, seems more organized, and appears takes the situation more seriously.

The same goes for technical sales demos. A clear path is the strongest path.

There are three main goals for a successful technical demo presentation. Sticking close to these methods will help you and your team win the deal during your next live sales demonstration.

Win an opportunity

Persuade a potential customer that your solution is the right answer to a business challenge they face.


Communicate an understanding of a technical concept to increase the knowledge of your audience.

Prove a concept

Show your audience that your technology or idea can become their business reality.

Your demo will fail if it does not meet at least two of the above goals.

1. Win an opportunity

The biggest misstep when meeting with a customer is to not connect what you’re presenting to your customer’s business reality. 

This meeting should be more than simply showing off your product or moving a sales opportunity along the pipeline; your focus is to set the stage for how your technology can help your prospective client address or solve their problems.

Although it’s fantastic when presenters are excited about the product, but when the eyes of their audience glaze over during the demo, you’ve lost them. As enthusiastic as the demoer may be during the presentation, they have neglected to connect the customer’s issues and your product’s solutions.

How to ensure your audience understands "What's in it for me?"

Know your audience when preparing your demo.

  • Understand their business challenges
  • Be aware of the challenges they face
  • Weave a customer example into your demo to illustrate how your product is the answer they need.

Success comes when your audience has that “Ah-ha!” moment and realizes “I really need this to help me be successful.” Without the “Ah-ha!”, there’s no relevance and your demo will miss the mark with your customer.

2. Educate

At 3Sharp, we support presenters at product and technology conferences such as Microsoft Ignite. As a result, our demos and keynote materials must teach and inform a large audience all at once. Whether it’s a quick how-to or a deep technical concept, the audience should walk away feeling like they have learned something.

During educational-style demos (such as training events or conferences), distractions can limit the effectiveness of your demo. You want your audience focused on the message your delivering and information you’re providing. If they are distracted, they won’t learn anything.

Your audience should always leave the meeting thinking,
"I have learned something!"

Distractions divert your audience’s attention and can include:

Techno-babble. Make sure your demo content matches the technical level of your audience. A guaranteed way to disconnect your audience is to overload them with technical terms or acronyms that are unfamiliar to them. It can be a challenge when you have a wide range of skill levels present, in which case you need to make sure you briefly define any terms you use and then move swiftly on.

Missing the point. Every demo should have a few (and just a few) key messages that it is trying to deliver. You want those points to be the main things that the audience walks away remembering. Avoid anything in your demo that does not reinforce the key message, such as pointing out other options or scenarios along the way.

Make it actionable. A good way to help drive home a demo is to give the audience a way to try it out themselves.  If you’re showing a software product, is there a trial version where they can replicate your demo? If it’s code, can they download the source to play with themselves? Is a video available of the session or demo that they could review again later? Some of the best demos are the ones where the audience leaves with the desire to try it out for themselves.

Quick tips to avoid common distractions:

The demo presenter:

Stay on topic.

Be specific. Don’t speak in generalities.

Wear a plain shirt. Avoid busy or “witty” t-shirts.

Don’t jump around the user interface. If unavoidable, be sure to explain what you’re doing so it’s less jarring to your viewers

The product demo:

Use a fresh, clean demo device.

Remove excess items from the device’s desktop. Move any unnecessary icons into a folder.

Sign out of all applications, including email.

Turn off all notifications.

3. Proving a concept

Beyond preparing well, the important thing to remember when giving a demo is to maintain trust and professionalism.

Don’t let minor – or even major – hiccups deter your product message. It can be awkward for the audience to see a presenter stumbling over a demo failure. Keep calm and carry on! 

If you can explain why the demo failed, do so, but don’t waste valuable time trying to solve the problem live. Anything other than the most simple of fixes will take too much time and will mean the audience’s memories will be about the failure and not your message. In my experience, audiences are forgiving if a demo doesn’t quite work out according to plan, so go with the flow and move on.

You may recall the video of Windows 98 giving Bill Gates the Blue Screen of Death in a demo. 

This is probably the most famous example of a demo failing spectacularly. 

The expected outcome of these kinds of failures are that you either fail to prove the concept you’re intending (such as how easily and reliable plug and play in Windows 98 is), or you erode trust that’s been built between you and your audience – but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Check out our Demo Wizards series and our blog post, Top 5 tips for a great live demo presentation, for tips on how to guard against these kinds of failures.

The demo failures that people remember most tend to be those big technical slip-ups, however the true failures that impact a business are to not convey your target message. Glitches and bugs can hinder a demo, but even with the odd hiccup you can still leave your audience feeling their time was well invested in watching your demo by staying on script and making sure you land your talking points.

At 3Sharp, we have nearly two decades of experience building bulletproof demos. Whether it’s equipping technical sales people with demo tools and materials, providing conference keynote demo support, or simply telling a better technical product story that informs, excites, and wins deals, our key objective is to ensure our demos meet the needs of our customers and their audience.

Tell your best product story

Tech storytelling is what we do.

3Sharp is an industry leader in product demos. We design easy-to-present and easy-to-understand content that’s focused on accelerating sales cycles and turning your technology into your customer’s most valuable assets. Let us help you land the sale with relevant and compelling demo materials. Learn more.

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