Don’t Play Show and Tell with Product Demonstrations

One the most powerful tools that a product marketer has to move a client through the buying cycle is the product demonstration. It is here that the salesperson of old would promise the world; how the offering would solve all problems and how the product or service had no match in the market place. The salesperson would even “wow” the bewildered client with the amazing “bells and whistles” of the product. Today, sales pros still have to illustrate how a product or service may benefit a customer or business. The difference is that product demonstrations have to be more interactive; they can’t just be show and tell.

Instead, make the product memorable and relevant to the buyer by identifying the client’s true problem and how the product will solve it.

Here are a few keys to keeping web-conferenced, tele-conferenced and in-person product conversations memorable and meaningful for the buyer.

DEFINE YOUR PRODUCT

After countless follow-up calls, emails and voicemail messages, the buyer finally schedules a face-to-face meeting or a conference call to see a product demonstration. Often sales professionals assume the client has reviewed the brochure and knows exactly what this presentation is all about. Upon starting the demonstration, the salesman neglects to clearly state the perceived problem the product or service solves. Even worse, he doesn’t state what the solution is to the problem.

No matter what, this is difficult to recover from because the prospect may have a completely different understanding of the offering then what is intended.

In any product demonstration, and throughout the buying process, define set clear expectations for the product: what is it, what problem does it solve and how.

KNOW WHAT LISTENERS WANT TO HEAR

After all of the preparation put into product demonstrations, preparation often doesn’t go to formulating the discussion flow to match the interests of the client. If Company B is most concerned with feature and benefit Y, why make the ineffective effort of hammering home feature and benefit Z. All to often sales professionals are intimidated to speak about an aspect of the solution if it doesn’t feel as if that part is among the strongest.

That’s OK. The organization has needs. Cater to those or find an unknown problem that can be solved by the offering.

CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INTERACTION

It can be difficult to get interaction from a large group attending a product demonstration via web conference or even in-person. Sometimes even stopping to gather interactive feedback or asking the all-important question: “How would this benefit the organization?” can lead to awkward pauses and long uneasy silences.

However, it is very important to get feedback. For web-based presentations, a mediator or voice of the group can be used as the barometer for the rest of the audience. Simply asking if there are questions will not suffice. There simply may not be any.

Instead, tell anecdotal stories that make the products useable. Creating these scenarios will give the participants the ability to envision themselves using the solution. Remember that if you can’t get interaction or positive feedback, there may not be true buy-in or appreciation for the solution.

ANNOUNCE THE CONCLUSION

Abrupt endings often leave a sense of unease, similarly to when you hear a song that stops suddently or a book is left unfinished, without a resolution or conclusion. The same is true for product demonstrations, which should be treated as a narrative that needs to capture and maintain the interests of the clients.

Throughout the demo, keep the attention of the listeners by making real-world illustrations throughout the presentation. At the end, announce conclusions with a wrap up summary of all of the key points. Special attention should be paid to the part of the solution that solves the client’s problem and caters to their organizational needs.

With all of the competing forces that vie for a client’s time, with all of the products and services that organizations have to choose from, sales professionals have to capture the client’s attention and wow prospects. It doesn’t matter if you have a simple transactional product or a high-level complex multi-staged solution, the product demonstration is one of the most potent and valuable resources at a sales pro’s disposal. Don’t waste it. Anyone can simply show their product or demonstrate its features. Giving valuable interactive presentations that have the ability to connect solutions with a client’s needs and business wants is invaluable.

Happy selling!