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The Key to Effective Demonstrations of a Technology Solution

A guide for technical sales people on how to give excellent demos

Have you ever been invited to present a product solution and within a few minutes the audience is thumbing on their mobile devices?

Have you ever presented to a remote audience and asked the end "any questions?" and there are none?

Here are some tips for giving a great demo. (Credit to this material goes to Peter Cohan of The Second Derivative who presented this material at a workshop I attended and have me permission to write a summary)

What is a bad demo?
"Let me show this awesome product and all its cool features."

What is a good demo?
Presentation of specific product functions required to solve a customer's critical business problem.

Tips for  a good demo Before you start, get this critical information about your audience:

  • Industry
  • Names and titles
  • One or more problems they are facing
  • Specific functions of your product solution that will solve their problems

Oh and don't forget: turn off Instant Messenger and email alerts - this can be embarrassing to have messages pop up during a demo!

During the demo

  • Set the agenda
  • Engage the audience
  • Summarize midway through the demo
  • Get them to ask questions during the demo
  • Summarize at the end

Tips for remote demos (Webex, GoTo meeting...) Since you cannot see your audience, how can you engage them? How do you know what they are doing in the room(s)?

Pre-demo setup:

  • Ensure Webex GoTo meeting etc is functioning
  • Get inventory of who is in the room- name, title, what you want them to get out of the demo
  • Ask the audience  "can you see my mouse?, Can you hear me?" - no point starting the demo if no-one can hear or see!

During the demo

  • Engage the audience: ask them to read what they see on the screen
  • Annotate on the screen using webex and other tools
  • Capture questions in a document that you share over the Webex so that the audience can see they are being listened to and answer all the questions by the end of the demo.
  • Move the mouse slowly
  • If possible, run a second computer/tablet connected to your webex, so you can see what the audience is seeing and you can measure any network latency
  • Remember, the audience cannot see  you, don't point at your screen with your finger - engage them with the mouse.

Most important for in-person or remote demos
Predefine what the customer's problem is and showcase your product features that will solve their problem.

More Stories By Jonathan Gershater

Jonathan Gershater has lived and worked in Silicon Valley since 1996, primarily doing system and sales engineering specializing in: Web Applications, Identity and Security. At Red Hat, he provides Technical Marketing for Virtualization and Cloud. Prior to joining Red Hat, Jonathan worked at 3Com, Entrust (by acquisition) two startups, Sun Microsystems and Trend Micro.

(The views expressed in this blog are entirely mine and do not represent my employer - Jonathan).