Get buy-in at every stage with these sales demo tips.

  • In sales, we tend to focus on the pitch and the close. But in between, we need to demonstrate the product. And a great sales demo can clinch the deal.
  • Digital marketing specialist Sam Dunning encourages us to tailor demos to each client with a five-step process.
  • Sam discusses the importance of the discovery process, setting an agenda, and weaving stories into your demo while getting buy-in at every stage.
discovery call

A legendary Jedi master once said: Do or do not. There is no try.

Whether you’re training warriors to fight the Galactic Empire or selling software in a global pandemic, Yoda’s infinite wisdom tells us to take action – and always pass on what we’ve learned along the way.

Sales demo tips to rock your meetings

The best way to teach is to show, not just tell. When we demonstrate the solutions we sell, we’re empowering our customers in ways a pitch just can’t match.

“A lot of us are guilty of sending a quote or proposal and hoping for the best,” says Sam Dunning, the co-founder and sales director of Web Choice

“But demos are so good because you’re having a one-to-one conversation with your prospect,” he adds. 

On an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Sam – who also hosts the popular podcast Sam’s Business Growth Show, says you can tailor demos to your clients with five simple steps. 

It starts with a thorough discovery process, a mutually-agreed-upon agenda, and harnessing the power of storytelling in your presentation – while getting buy-in at every stage.

1. Discovery zone

Prior to the demo, it’s essential to nail down your prospect’s pain points, goals, objectives, and desired outcomes, as well as their timeline, budget, and exactly who the decision-makers are. 

You need to know if they’re expecting X amount of turnover per month or X annual revenue. And if you’re talking to a manager or director, you need to know if anyone else will be involved in the buying process.

“A discovery call makes your presentation,” says Sam. 

Thenand here’s the kickeremail a short, simple agenda with three to five bullet points to everyone who will attend.

Hardly anyone does this, so you’ll immediately stand out. Plus, it sets expectations and optimizes everyone’s time. If you’ve clearly outlined what you want to accomplish during the meeting, you encourage all the participants to show up prepared. 

2. Ready, set, demo

Okay, it’s D(emo) Day. First, build rapport. It’s always key, but it’s especially critical in the era of social distancing.

Break the ice with something simple: Whereabouts in the world are you today? 

“Find some common ground, but keep it short and snappy,” says Sam.

Then confirm that everyone who agreed to be on the call is thereand if not, Sam says you must reschedule. 

“Don’t try to pitch people who can’t make decisions,” he explains. “It’s a waste of your time and theirs.”

If everyone is present, carry on with a recap of the agenda. Agree on the timeframe, too: We’ll spend about 30 minutes going through everythingis that still okay

Every step of the way, repeat your mutual understanding: the purpose of the meeting and the knowledge you’ve previously gleaned. That tells clients you’re paying attention. And they know you’re focused on solving their particular issues, not just reading a script. 

3. Anticipate the debate

In the demo, you can finally share the features and benefits of your wonderful product. Hooray! 

So do your thing – but customize it wisely.

discovery process

“Make sure your presentation showcases only the features relevant to your customers’ pain points or the goals you’ve established during discovery,” he says. 

And as you walk them through the features, bring up any issues before they do.

For example, if you offer CRM software and a common concern is whether it links to email, head it off: You might be thinking you’ll need to manually input data from inbound leads into the CRM. But here’s a tool that lets you export it from Gmail with one click.

“I like to list three or four common objections I get whilst presenting,” says Sam. “Make sure you address them before they even arise.”

Then, give them the opportunity to respond – in a strategic way.

“I learned this from Sandler Training,” he adds. “Once you’ve gone through a big feature, say: Okay, we’ve covered quite a bit. Usually, there are a few questions at this point…”

“People don’t like to be confronted,” Sam explains. So instead of asking what questions they have, encourage them to ask you anything.  

They might say, I don’t quite understand feature [x]. And you can clarify – without inadvertently offending anyone.

Once you’ve demoed the product, ask: Are you 100% comfortable with how we can attack this issue

If they’re not, ask them to explain – “and just shut up,” says Sam. (You, the sales rep. Not the buyers.)

Listen, and then show them exactly what they need to see.

4. Story time

Storytelling helps us build relationships. It’s the way we learn. And it’s a skill we’ve been honing all our lives. Explore innovative approaches to storytelling through advancements like story creation with AI, offering new avenues for creativity and engagement.

Sam points to a common objection: Looks good, but we’ve been burnt before. Our last supplier took us for a ride, billing us thousands per month without tangible results.

His response? “I understand. Can I tell you a story?”

Chances are they’ll say yes. “Everyone wants to hear a story,” Sam adds, before sharing one of his own. 

“I used to always buy Ford cars. And a few years ago, I got one secondhand. I was still quite new in sales, so I wasn’t earning much. But I picked out a nice, shiny, silver Ford for a few thousand pounds.”

At first, it was great, but then the engine problems began. Multiple visits to the garage and hundreds of pounds later, Sam was fed up.  He asked someone he’d gotten to know all too well  – his mechanic – for recommendations. That’s how Sam came to buy a Hyundai right off the lot – no sales pitch necessary.

The point of his story: Due diligence ensures a sensible decision. So if prospective buyers need to research and gather recs, encourage them to go for it.

5. Close talking

Toward the end of the demo, Sam recommends another Sandler technique:

On a scale of one to 10from not interested to ready to go ahead with our solution – where are you right now?

If they respond with a 10, the deal is done. Boom. 

And an answer that’s anything less? Ask how you can improve – “and keep repeating until they get to a 10 and you’re ready to move forward,” says Sam. 

If you offer several solutions at closing, he recommends putting forth one that’s “bang-on the budget you agreed to in discovery, and two or three more with extra features – just to give a bit of upsell flexibility if they’re game.”

Then ask: Does it make sense to go with option one, or would option two or three be a better fit?

If one of these options work, great. Done deal. Pop the champagne. 

If not, keep probing: What didn’t make sense

“Find the exact issue, address it perfectly, and ask the question again,” says Sam.

Now go forth, Padawan. And may the force be with you.

Inside Inside Sales Podcast