Designing Demos with Impact
A demo is different than a standard presentation or meeting. It’s better. A demo offers the opportunity to incorporate visual, auditory, tactile and other sensory cues that engage an audience with built-in interest while showcasing the totality of your company’s capabilities.
For most organizations, the chance to meet with a potential or current client in person is the most important touchpoint to close new business or build on an existing relationship. A demo enhances that interaction by providing the client with an immersive experience with your product or service.
It’s critical to design a great demo that captures attention and leaves a lasting impression but also does not impose a burden on the other priorities or distractions your clients may face.
Remember, you’re promising the full experience of engaging with your product, so make it worth it!
The best demos are visual, dynamic and engaging. As you go through the ideation and execution phases of designing the demo, continually refer back to this standard. The plan is to spark curiosity in your audience and encourage them to ask you to go into deeper detail vs. force feed them the kitchen sink.
Consider a trifecta of communication goals:
- Visually describe a tailored product or service that directly addresses client pain-points.
- Present examples of how the product or service has successfully addressed the pain-points of competitors or peer organizations of the client.
- Build time and opportunities into the demo for your prospect to provide feedback and ask questions. Whenever possible, aim to involve the customer in the discussion and convert the demo into a dialogue. This enables you to fine-tune your pitch and perhaps even point out additional functionality in the demo that you weren’t originally planning on highlighting, but that may hold additional value for the client.
Be concise. Respect your audience’s time and interests—you may be thrilled with new functionality in your product but it may not be particularly relevant to your audience. Keep an “extra information” file or pamphlet handy with more in-depth details if the client asks for it, but make your initial volley as succinct as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to fully test the demo and work out the kinks before bringing it to prime time. Practice where it doesn’t count. Nothing’s more embarrassing than having your demo malfunction in the middle of a pitch.
Whenever possible avoid 2D demos on monitors or wall screens, stuffed with difficult-to-absorb facts and figures. It’s easy to get lost in numbers and charts, and most people only retain a handful of takeaways from a presentation. If practical and the situation allows, a physical demo provides a more visceral experience to enable prospects to ascertain and comprehend your value proposition.
If you have large physical assets you want to show off, it may be worth it to bring select clients to you to show them what you’re working on. Airbus, for example, can’t very well bring a double-decker A38O airplane to a meeting, so designs bespoke sales events where potential clients, analysts, regulatory officials, etc. can all physically experience what the plane has to offer.
Absent bringing a demo to a client, other opportunities including tradeshows, conferences and seminars furnish opportunities to show off a physical demo. Try to design a “wow-factor” demo events whenever possible to overcome other visual noise and distractions inevitably present.
Make it personal
Seasoned business development professionals can often recite their entire pitch from memory. Although this helps with a smooth flow to a presentation, we’d actually consider it a flaw rather than an asset, from a client-centric point of view.
Do your homework on the client beforehand. Rather than going in cold and rolling through your standard pitch, incorporate interstitial question points and sidebars where you can show off that you know the client’s pain points, and suggest how you can help. Consider even building an interactive component into your demo to make it that much more memorable.
Keep the branding on-point
Never lose sight of using your brand as an evaluative lens as you create your demo. Does what you want to show and the way you’re showing it accurately represent your overall branding strategy and marketing goals? Are accompanying collateral pieces (pamphlets, slides, giveaways) on-brand or out of left field? Make sure your demo builds the overall brand vs. fractures or depletes it.
Above all, don’t overpromise. If you’re demoing a solution that’s still in the pilot phase, or that you know there are some kinks to be worked out, say so. Sophisticated prospects have a finely attenuated nose for BS, and appreciate the honesty. Being straightforward builds trust. Every demo represents a particular product or service, but never squander your organization’s broader reputation in pursuit of a quick sale.