Anyone on the Ephox sales and marketing team knows that I love to quote a book by Peter Cohan called, “Great Demo!: How To Create And Execute Stunning Software Demonstrations.”
I’m not exactly sure how many times I’ve read “Great Demo!,” but I’ve sure talked about it a lot over the past decade, since it was first published.
In a gist, Peter was an enterprise software sales guy – like me – who was trying to create a unique way to capture his audience’s attention.
And, as a guy who presents Ephox’s EditLive! enterprise software at events and webinars, I’ve had my fair share of personal experiences. In this post, I’m going to identify six ways to create compelling software demonstration and keep your prospects interested:
- Do the last thing first! I always encourage my team to start with the takeaways (what’s in it for the customer) and talk about our company last. In Cohan’s book, he says to skip the prelude and show the customer what they came to you to see right away. Then you’ll have their attention from the beginning to provide all of the other relevant information over the course of the presentation.
- Never (ever!) trust technology. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to demos. It’s tough to know if your client’s Wi-Fi will be stable enough to support your streaming video – or in our case at Ephox, our cloud-based software. When in doubt, spend some money and bring your own Wi-Fi card or better yet, be ready to demo a product that doesn’t rely on Internet. And, that’s tough to say coming from a guy who likes to demo software in real time.
- Practice makes perfect. Just like my mother always said…practice makes perfect. And in his own way so did Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Outliers,” in which he repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule,” claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for about 10,000 hours.Now, as a career sales guy, I’m sure I haven’t logged 10,000 hours demonstrating any specific software or hardware, but I’m certain that I’ve spent that much time (and more) in front of customers and prospects. To keep improving, practice does make perfect. If you’ve just done a webinar, listen to it and take notes. Also, don’t rule out the idea of videotaping yourself giving a presentation, then watching it with your wife/partner/friend and having them help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
- Set expectations. One of the first things to do after the “Do the Last Thing First” approach is to discuss the objectives (agenda). Your prospects are likely very busy and, while a period of time may have already been set aside for your presentation, many in the audience will appreciate knowing exactly where in the presentation you are, for more effective time management on all parties behalf.
- Encourage interactivity. Participants don’t want to feel that they are being lectured to. From the beginning, encourage attendees to interrupt at any time with any questions, comments or other feedback. If they’re quick to jump the gun and ask you about something you will be getting to later in the presentation, just give a brief answer and let them know you’ll get to it in a matter of minutes.
- Have a problem and solution ready to discuss. Clients need your software because they have a problem and need a solution. Do a little homework and find out in advance what challenges they may be currently facing, and how your product is their ideal solution. Personalizing a demo to show how your offering will help make their lives easier can go a long way in the sales pipeline.
Incorporating or customizing some of the tips above into your presentation methodology should help you dramatically increase your success in closing deals by keeping your audience engaged, focused and interested from slide one.
What other tips do you have for giving a software demonstration?