Keys To Effective Demos and Presentations

By John Barrows | January 11, 2017

shutterstock_215821246It’s unbelievable how robotic sales reps have gotten when giving demonstrations and presentations and it’s driving me crazy. They’re offered up before reps have even qualified a prospect or know if what they are selling is needed. Lazy reps blast out template e-mails that basically say: “Hi, I don’t know if you’re the person I should be sending this to and I definitely don’t know how to sell. I’m hoping to trip over someone who is desperate enough to respond and who will agree to sit through the pre-canned demo my Marketing department put together in the hopes you will be so impressed that you’ll end up buying my solution. I want a commission without actually having to do any real work.” 

Effective Sales Adds Value To Marketing

I wrote a while back about the Death of the Average Sales Rep which focused on how Marketing was creeping further and further into the world of Sales and was eating away at the traditional values sales reps provide. This isn’t just with lead generation, it’s happening throughout the entire sales process, including with demos.

If a rep doesn’t customize a demo, how is it different than sending a link to a generic video? It’s not. Actually, the video will probably perform 10x better since it’s in a controlled environment and is usually delivered by an expert who developed it. If that’s the case, then what value does a sales rep bring to the equation? Zero. Focus on your value.

Sales Presentations: What Not To Do

I sit through demos all the time and recently one pushed me over the edge. I had a qualification call with this company to help them understand what I was looking for. We then scheduled a call to walk through a presentation of their offer and their specific solution. Throughout the process it seemed like they were listening and it felt like they put a lot of work into customizing a solution and a presentation for me which is way more than I can say for most. I was actually looking forward to the “demo” this time.

As we started the call, my main point of contact introduced me to all the players on their end who would be involved. He then proceeded to go through the presentation slide by slide. It was pretty evident within the first 3 slides that this was a stock presentation and wasn’t customized to me at all other than some of the numbers. To make things worse, he spent the first 20 minutes going into detail about an aspect of the solution we had already told him we didn’t need.

He finally stopped to ask me for my thoughts on what he had just presented. Unfortunately for him I had plenty of thoughts I wanted to share, but none of them were about the quality of the solution. All my comments were about the quality of his presentation and listening skills. It was obvious he hadn’t listened to me at all during the qualification phase and therefore wasted everyone’s time. The presentation was over at that point regardless of how good the rest of the solution might have been for me.

Don’t be that sales rep.

Creating Effective Sales Demos and Presentations

Here are some tips on how to make your presentations and demos more effective:

  • Start presentations off with an agenda and ask the client what they would like to get out of the presentation
  • If multiple people are on the call, then ask them all what they want to get out of the presentation and reference back to each person throughout
  • Make sure you are crystal clear on the client’s business priorities and highlight the various aspects of your solution that align with them throughout the presentation
  • If you have a 30 page presentation, tell them you’re going to focus on 5 main slides based on their priorities
  • Instead of making the first 3 slides in your presentation all about your company’s awards, background and clients, make them about the customer. Ask the customer “How much of our background do you need to know? Because I can go into detail if you want but I’d really like to focus on what is most important here – you.”
  • Put logical breaks in your presentation to stop and ask questions to ensure the client understood what you presented and that they see value in it
  • Let them know you will be pausing along the way to get their feedback
  • Don’t ask “Does that make sense?” That’s insulting. Instead, ask them to pitch back to you what they just saw and compare it to what they are currently doing now
  • Don’t ask “Do you have any questions?” Instead, ask “What questions do you have?”

Do you have a specific question on your demo or presentation approach? Hit me up on Facebook or Snapchat (johnmbarrows).

Make it happen.

Create urgency around your sales offer

  • Mark Williams

    Well written. There are some useful insight into presentation. Thanks for the tips

  • Good insights here, John. It sucks how we usually get presentations that are stock or generic. I think one can clearly spot that in the first few slides. Gladly, I can see that we go with the same path. It’s always safe to ask what they want to get out from the presentation. Some may be hesitant to do so (because it might seem like they don’t know what they’re doing) but it’s really better to ask.

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