Looking for sales resources and advice?

Check out the Future of SaaS Festival, May 11th-13th.

With 40+ experts spanning 6 of the hottest topics in SaaS over 3 jam-packed days, you’re guaranteed to walk away with tons of new and proven tactics, strategies and ideas to take your business to the next level.
Reserve your ticket HERE


When was the last time you saw a sales product demo that not only informed you, but actually got you excited? Where you couldn’t wait to get your hands on it, explore it, and put it to good use?

Usually we join a 30 minute Zoom call with an AE. They talk passionately over some positioning slides before opening up the product demo. Cue: an explanation of every every button, every form field, and every screen.

But that’s pretty unhelpful. If we’re early in the process, the prospect is going to be overwhelmed. If we’re later in the process then a demo is too little, too late.

Screen grab of James Doman-Pipe Twitter post

A good sales demonstration, early in the sales process, is not a walkthrough. It’s to demonstrate how your product solves the prospect’s problem, to substantiate your product’s value, and build momentum.

4 signs your product demo could be better… and how to counter them

1. Most sentences start with ‘This button…’

You showcase your product by explaining every feature, button-by-button and click-by-click.

Is it necessary to explain “this button opens this form up in a new window”? Or that the user can “click here to see more details”?

You're probably attempting to show configuration and optionality... but this is hedging your bets. You need to show the definitive solution your customers will use to solve their problem. Otherwise, you'll overload prospects with minor details that have no bearing in their purchase decision.

You might be attempting to justify a high price point by demonstrating comprehensiveness. "We're worth the price because you're getting all this!" Instead, it devalues and commodifies your product down to a number of buttons

The more you explain your product, the less people will want to hear about it.

Instead…

Structure your demo around value nuggets to ladder each feature up to the value you provide. Make sure every feature you mentioned deserves precious airtime.

Infographic of a value nugget

2. You show the administration area

Generally, I don’t believe that any sales demo should show the admin area. They’re often ugly, complex, and full of settings. Settings raise questions… and questions lead to objections.

This depends on a number of factors:

  • Where the demo is in the process
  • Whether your product is positioned with configuration as a core value
  • Whether you’re demoing to an admin user rather than a buyer or champion.

Showing the admin area will prompt questions like “Can it do X? How do we do Y?”, which will slow your process down.

Instead…

Understand who the demo is for and where it fits into their buying journey. You’ll then be able to pre-empt questions that will arise and tackle them head on.

Try to avoid broadening the goalposts in the early stages of the sales process. Your product solves a discrete problem and it provides many benefits around that. Later on, you can tackle the broader applications and how to make it happen.

3. You’re talking in hypotheticals

The demo has to ground the product in your customer’s world. They have to understand what working in the product will be like.

But so many demos will talk through the product in hypotheticals.

  • “So if you wanted to do X, you’ll click here and do that.”
  • “You could do Y, if you wanted to.”

These are prime opportunities to build confidence and show you believe in how your product solves problems. Instead, you’re introducing optionality and choice into the prospect’s consideration.

Instead…

Throw away that broad catch-all sales pitch and focus on solving specific pain points. Use what you know from the discovery process, and use relevant examples from other customers.

Think less fairytale, more documentary.

4. You talk too much about the how, not the outcome

The sales demo is to get your prospect excited about using your product. The product experience is part of the puzzle, but don't forget: they have an acute problem to solve. And most problems have many solutions, so you need to hit the mark and make sure yours wins.

Using a sales demo to only explain how your product works is a missed opportunity to understand how to galvanize the deal:

  • How do they prioritize the solutions you’re showing?
  • What's the most powerful thing you’ve showed them?
  • How do they think your product would change their life or results?

A poor sales demo will also have an unhealthy listening-to-talking ratio. The sales demo is not just a stage in your process: it’s a tool to help both sides make progress.

Instead…

Link as much as you can back to the ultimate value your product is delivering and the problems you’re solving.

Construct the conversation around SPIN. Through questioning, build a story with the prospect that identifies the clear positive outcomes they want to achieve.

The sales demo is a key tool

It's likely that your sales process will need a more in-depth opportunity for a user or technical evaluator to see the product. They'll want to play around, ask questions, and see exactly how it feels to use. But that can come later in many formats, like:

  • Interactive product walkthrough tools
  • Demo account access
  • Guided walkthrough sessions with pre-sales
  • A sandbox
  • Detailed how-to videos

But the sales demo has a special role in your buyer journey. It can motivate the prospect, generate insight for your rep, and help you build momentum.

Don’t use complex walkthroughs, insignificant details, hypothetical situations, or product-centric presentations. Make the most of it by positioning your product around your unique value, their problem, and how you'll solve it.