Make Your Demo Sing

There is nothing quite like running a demo for a prospect and sensing that you have them totally captivated, that what you are showing them resonates with what they need, that they feel that there is something slightly magical in your offering.

Conversely, have we not all been the audience of demos that are painful,   slow and monotonous?  Ones that bury you in an avalanche of forgettable information and feel like fingernails on a chalkboard or watching paint dry.

The following are a few thoughts on how to make your demos sing, make them something your propects actually enjoy and remember.

Use Your Demo to Tell a Story

Because you and your team built the technology you are about to demo, and because technology typically offers specific capabilities – we call these features – your instinct when showing it to someone is to focus on what it does.  This is absolutely wrong.  Your viewers will remember more about your offering and be much more impressed with it if it is organized around a coherent narrative that resonates with their needs.  Frame your demo in terms of real world problems that your prospect faces and that your technology will help them solve.  How will it make life easier for them, improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, improve efficiency?  What tasks will it shift from sheer drudgery to ease?  Structure this in simple story with a beginning, middle and end.

Keep it Short

You sweated over building your app, it has taken a huge amount of effort to get it to this stage and so there is so much to talk about.  But, strenuously resist the urge to show your prospect everything, to describe every feature, to dwell on every button or field.  You must keep your demo short – 30 minutes is fine, 40 minutes is passable, 45 minutes is the absolute maximum.  Past minute 40, your prospects will experience MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) and will start check their email.   If you go past 45 minutes you will lose them completely to their Twitter feed, text messages and other social media distractions.

Keep Your Actions Simple, Limited

You know your app inside out, you can navigate it blindfolded with the precision of James Bond disarming a nuke in Dr. No’s man-cave, however your audience has never seen it before, is likely watching what you do via webinar (a particularly flattening experience) and so needs a demo experience that is very simple.  Think carefully about the mechanics of your demo and keep them simple.

A CEO client of mine happened to be onsite with a large prospect when one of his sales team members ran a web based demo of their workflow management software remotely.  He came away saying “My sales guy did an amazing job but some of our app just doesn’t show well, it’s too detailed for an initial demo.”  Indeed.  We figured out a script that avoided a couple of the most bothersome screens while still telling a story about how the application could help the viewer.

Keep your clicks, scrolls and screen changes to a minimum.  Be purposeful, steady in your actions:  a screen that jumps all over the place is very hard for a prospect to watch.

Don’t Underestimate Sizzle

Part of the demo process is about selling magic, a vision, the future – that is part of what makes a technology sale fun, so some piece of it should reflect this.   What part of your offering is magical and will leave a strong impression?

A number of years ago I was working with a company that provided field service operators with a workflow system that included mobile capabilities; this was long before smart phones and the mobile web, whose fluidity we now mostly take for granted.  At the end of each demo, I would be sure to leave enough time to have the system magically call the prospect’s cell phone and read them a message in one of those emotionless, computer generated voices.  This little trick never failed to light up even the most obdurate prospect and spoke volumes about what we thought technology could do.

Of course, you need to be careful about this:  too much razzle dazzle and your credibility will ebb, but the right amount will enhance y0ur presentation.


How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice.  This is almost trivial to say, but you want to have worked your demo so much that, like a good stand up comic, you can do your routine – and it is a routine – in your sleep.  Demo for each other, have your team members demo for you via webinar so that you understand the audience’s experience of your software.  Demo with hiccups, with random questions, with janky hardware.  Absolutely nothing should phase you when you are making your presentation; your pitch should flow and you should rapidly recover when thrown curve balls.



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