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8 Essential Elements Of A Successful Sales Demo

Dec 15, 2020

So your lead has reached out to your team to learn about your service. Great! But now what?

What do you do to make sure you win their heart and get them to buy your service? Let’s admit it: a lot of this depends on how you deliver your sales demos.

You might have an A1 service, but if you fail at explaining your unique selling points or grabbing your prospect’s attention, you won’t be able to hit your goal. This doesn’t mean delivering a successful sales demo is out of your league. If anything, you can do it. How? With these proven eight tips that I have for you today.

Ready to take notes? Let’s dig in…



What’s the difference between a sales demo and a product demo?

Before we cover any ground on what makes a successful sales demo, it’s essential to clear the air a bit by clarifying the difference between a sales demo and a product demo.

It’s easy to confuse the two. However, the key difference lies in the audience.

While both the demo types focus on explaining your product and its features, the end goal varies. With a sales demo, the goal is to impress your prospect and close a sales deal. With a product demo, the aim is to walk your customer through product features so they can understand how to use them.


Now that the difference is out of the way, let’s dig into the meat of the matter: the eight essential elements of a successful sales demo.



1. A powerful sales demo fits its audience’s needs

The success of any presentation depends on how well it understands its audience.

The more you understand your audience, the better you can tailor your demo’s content to address your prospect’s challenges and answer the questions they have.

What’s more, a clear understanding of your audience leaves you in a strong position to use their language, making your presentation more relatable and, hence, easy to connect with for your lead.

To make sure you don’t miss any important essential details of your prospect, spend some time planning your discovery questions. These are questions you ask to gather info on your lead before you jump on giving them a sales demo.

Some helpful discovery questions to ask are:

  • What challenges are you currently facing in your situation?
  • What are your company’s most important goals?
  • What product features are you looking for or which of our features interest you the most?
  • Who is involved in the purchase decision?
  • What kind of problems do you expect to solve with our service?

Remember: you need to gather information on the prospect roles, their business goals, challenges, and their expectations from your service.

Having all this information will help you create a sales deck and narrative that speaks to your audience and, therefore, closes deals efficiently.



2. It’s based on a well-planned presentation

Another essential element of a winning sales demo is its structure. You might be excited to share everything your service can help the prospect with, but you need to contain all that excitement within a well-organized presentation layout.

To this end, always start working on your sales demo with an outline. Lay out exactly what you’ll share with your leads, then decide what comes first, second, and so on.

Keep in mind that your goal here is to answer all the possible questions your prospect has in mind (ideally, before they even ask those questions). So, it helps to use those questions to navigate your demonstration’s structure.

That said, don’t fail to plan out your time brackets for each section. Generally, a demo meeting is structured like this:

  • 5 minutes of introduction
  • 5 minutes of recap findings
  • 30 minutes of the presentation
  • 10 minutes of feedback or a Q&A session
  • 5 minutes on discussing next steps

You can also cut back on these durations as needed. For instance, give 2 minutes to intro and recap each, 20 minutes to the presentation part, followed by 5 minutes to questioning, and the last few minutes to your CTA (call-to-action). This way, you can keep the entire session to about 30 minutes.



3. Includes on-point presentation slides

Equally important here is your slides’ visual outlook.

A poorly designed deck does little to hold your audience’s attention. And, you know how that turns out, right? A prospect that doesn’t listen attentively to you rarely closes the deal.

So you’ve got to get to work on your presentation slides to make them attention-grabbing and memorable.

Here are some no-nonsense tips to help you design memorable and visually appealing slides:

  • Make sure your slide deck has a color scheme. Ideally, this scheme should be based on your brand colors.
  • Ensure your slides are easy to read by using a readable font type and size. Don’t use a slide font size that’s less than 26 points. As for the font type, use easy to read fonts like Calibri, Verdana, and Helvetica to name a few.
  • Visualize data. In other words, create bar charts, circle graphs, and other graphics to turn dry numbers into eye-pleasing and easy to understand charts.
  • Keep block text to the minimum on a slide to keep it clutter-free. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs to explain things.
  • Never add overused, stock photos. Only include high-quality images to your demo that supplement your message.

Want to see all these tips in action? Check out this Uber Eats presentation.

See that the slide deck sticks with its brand color, is clutter-free (minimal text and one that’s easily understandable), leverages the potential of high-quality images, and shares its cost projection data in a graph.

If you’re at a loss here or find yourself lacking in the design department, consider using templates that DIY presentation software tools offer.


sales demo presentation template

Find more presentation templates on Visme.



4. Takes interactivity into account

A plain sales presentation is typically meh.

Yes, a visually appealing slide deck does half the job. But the rest of it? Interactivity can handle that part.

Let me explain: an interactive presentation is one that encourages its audience to participate rather than sit in a corner or on the other side of the virtual meeting room and focus on saving themselves from the embarrassment of yawning in front of somebody else.

For example, a presentation with an interactive quiz can keep your audience on their toes as they have to choose between options. Or, if you have interactive sales tools, like a Return On Investment calculator, you can incorporate those too.

Here are just some of the ways a presentation software such as Visme can allow you to make your sales demo meeting an interactive one:



  • Create a non-linear presentation

There are two ways to go about doing so. One, add links within your slides. For instance, link to a case study. As soon as you click, you’ll leave the slide deck and head over to a new page, making things both interesting and non-linear (a.k.a. mainstream).

And two, let your prospect decide which direction they’d like to take in the demo. Remember reading books that let you decide which path to take? Based on the path you’d pick, you’d go to a specific page number. This is exactly what you’ll do with your presentation. Ask your lead to choose between options and then move to respective slides accordingly.


  • Animate your slides

You don’t have to use the ‘go big or go home’ approach with animation. A small movement or features popping up one after the other can do well to hold your audience’s attention. However, stay away from tacky transitions and animations: heart-shared transitions were only accaptable in the early 1000s and they were corny even then.


  • Include a short video clip

You don’t have to be the only one having to do all the talking. A small video clip embedded within your slide deck can help you put your sales demo on autopilot. For example, a short video interview or case study snippet from an existing client can back up your points.


  • Have leads enter the information themselves

Another interesting way to keep your audience involved is to have them enter information so you can show them how your service works.

Let’s say, you have a marketing plan template to show in action. Ask your lead to enter their info in it and show them how the template can help up their marketing game.



5. It’s humanized and has a voice

In addition to the visuals, another element that can help you win at holding your audience’s attention is the demo’s voice. Yes, that’s right. You need to work on humanizing your demo meeting by giving it a distinct voice.

The question now is: how do you inject personality in your demo presentation?

Here are three surefire ways to do so:


  • Proactively module your tone

The same way as narrators of a good story do. Think of it, really. Would you sit attentively through a monotonous presentation that sounds like a boring microbiology lecture?

A good starting point here is injecting personality into your voice whether you’re on an online sales call or giving an in-person sales demo. Hand gestures to explain your point help too.


  • Talk like a human

This helps you connect with the lead. Using a conversational tone, asking questions, and sharing stories to explain a feature or case study can make your lead feel valued.

Want to start off your presentation by instantly engaging your audience?

Use icebreaker questions to get your prospect talking and excited to learn about your service. For example, for a sales demo on social media scheduler, you can break the ice by asking about your lead’s favorite social media network and what they like about it.


  • Keep injecting personality throughout the demo

Three things can help: providing background information, adding humor to your narrative, and telling stories.

Sharing your company’s background story can help you gain your audience’s trust from the get-go. As for humor and storytelling: the brain is hardwired to enjoy them. Just make sure your jokes don’t offend your prospect.

Regarding telling stories, here’s an idea for sharing about, let’s say, a link building software solution:

❌ Don’t say: X is a link building tool that gets you good quality links by running a campaign in a few steps. Simply click here, here, and here and you’ll end up sending tons of emails. 

✔ Take this approach instead: Picture this… Sending tons of emails daily manually to publications that have already mentioned your business, but haven’t linked to it. Imagine having to find all those email addresses on your own! *dramatic pause* Let’s do the math and see how long that will take… Now with our tool, you can automate all this process by planning an email campaign, etc.

See how that makes a difference?



6. Doesn’t focus on product features

A successful sales demo is not about your product features. It’s about your audience, their challenges, and how your service will eliminate roadblocks.

Basically, there’s a story in here with your prospect being the hero of the tale and their problem being the heart of the pstory’s conflict. And how does the hero solve his problem? With your service.

Note that the focus of such an approach isn’t your service or its features — it’s the prospect.

Hence, to explain your product features, you must first take the time to understand your prospect’s Goals, Plans, Challenges, and Timeline (GPCT). Based on these findings, you can keep the focus on the problem followed by the solution rather than the other way around.

Here’s another approach you can take: let the prospect do the talking. Let’s walk you through an example:

You: To solve this [problem], several of our customers use [the product feature]. Here’s how [briefly explain how]. What are your thoughts on it? How would you like to solve this problem yourself? 

Prospect: We would actually take the following A, B, and C steps. And then, we’d go on to… 

In this case, the lead often ends up selling themselves your service.



7. Explains the why

A sales demo that sufficiently answers the ‘why?’ in their prospect’s mind is one that often closes deals successfully.

The reason is simple: prospects have lots of options in their hands. But, if you correctly explain what makes your service unique, you’ll be able to win them in no time.

So always answer the following in your demo presentation:

  • What’s your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
  • Why is your service better than your competitor’s products?
  • Why is your product ideal for solving your prospect’s problem?

It’s also helpful to explain what your current customers love about your service. That adds social proof to the mix and assists in explaining your product’s USP too.

So, for instance, a live streaming platform could say things like how their pricing is a differentiating factor or how they make it super simple for their customers to launch their channel and earn money from that channel.

golden circle model in sales demos

You can utilize Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model to truly differentiate your products or services value proposition.



8. Has a CTA

A CTA or call-to-action is the next step you’d want your prospect to take. Missing on adding a CTA means you’re likely going to miss on the opportunity to seal the deal.

Numbers prove this: successful demo calls spend an average of 12.7% more time on discussing the next steps than unsuccessful ones.

So, take out at least five minutes at the end of the meeting to ask your prospect how they’d like to move forward. And, don’t forget to tell them that you’ll follow-up with them with a recap of the meeting and next steps within X time frame (usually within 24 hours so the meeting is still fresh in their mind).



Wrap up 

And that’s all, folks. Delivering successful sales demos is only as hard as you make it. With these eight tips by your side, you don’t need to worry. Remember: the goal is to keep your audience on their toes so they listen to you and move on to the next stage in their buyer’s journey and you’ll never have to revive a stalled deal ever again.

Designing a well-structured, visually stunning, and interactive slide deck can help with this. By injecting personality into your narrative style, conversing with the lead, and including a CTA, you can handle the rest.


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Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer for SaaS. When she’s not writing actionable blog posts, she has her head buried in a fantasy novel or business book. Masooma Memon

Freelance SaaS Writer

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