3 ‘You Should Be Fired’ Product Demo Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them:

Sean Macentee

Photo CC: Sean MacEntee

Product demos are likely the most important interaction you will have with prospects throughout the sales process. So why are so many demos flat-out boring? How are millions of sales folks still just giving nuts-and-bolts walk-throughs, when purchase decisions are so clearly emotional? Is it because it’s easier? More convenient? At CONSENSUS™, our mission is to make the best sales demo. As a result, we subject ourselves to a gauntlet of bad demos on a daily basis. You’ve just discovered when to demo, you’ve got your appointment, and you are ready to go. Now, lets look at a quick summary of the bad demos we’re seeing and how you can avoid giving one.

3 ‘You Should Be Fired’ Product Demo Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them:


1. The nuts-and-bolts demo

The first, and most common, is the dreaded nuts-and-bolts demo. This one makes me sick. Your customer is trying to solve a problem, and the best you can do is show them how the sausage is made? It’s the “here is what we can do for you” approach. Listening to your customer is low on your priority list. Don’t go nuts-and-bolts. Use the problem-problem-problem-solution path and you’ll avoid this pitfall.

2. The tour guide demo

Second, and somewhat related to the first is the “I’ll just walk you through to give you a general idea of what we do…” approach to your demo. This is a common go-to-move for sales folks when a prospect isn’t engaging in much conversation, or if you don’t know how to ask the right questions. When you start down that road, it’s waaaay too easy to get 30 minutes into the demo and miss THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: identifying the most valuable application of your product in their business, and demoing that completely. Stay focused on solving their problems, and demoing the features that do so, and you’ll avoid this pitfall.

3. Time burglars

The third pitfall is in the sales operations realm – demoing to everyone when product demos are time-burglars. Are you giving a full-featured demo to every prospect? You’re likely spending anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours walking a prospect through all of your awesome features. (Don’t believe us? Read this post.) That helps, but how can you scale that? And what about demoing AGAIN to other stakeholders? Or, as most companies do, you may be letting your prospect try to regurgitate every detail of every feature to the other decision makers and crossing your fingers that they use the same messaging that you’ve crafted over the years… Yeah, sounds ridiculous, but that is what many companies are doing. Find a way to educate your customers before you demo to them, and you’ll be able to avoid this pitfall.

These are the most common examples of terrible sales demos. So, honestly, how many demos have you started by telling the prospect “I’ll just walk you through our product/service to give you a brief overview…” and then, 30 minutes into the call, backpedalled to understand their business needs and problems? Let’s do what we can to avoid these common mistakes and spare prospects everywhere from boring and ineffective product demos.

For more tips on better demos, read these 11 tips on delivering a memorable b2b product demo.