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The art of the virtual product demo

The art of the virtual product demo

9 Min read

Demos are by far the most effective method of showing off a product’s capabilities. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person product demo meetings more challenging. 

However, video conferencing allows you to perform virtual product demos without ever leaving the comfort of your home office. With so many people working remotely for the foreseeable future, virtual product demos are becoming increasingly popular. 

Read on to learn how to conduct the perfect virtual demo that shows off your product at its best and converts prospects into customers. 

Know your prospect

The worst mistake you can make is failing to do your research. Customers are discerning, and they expect a personalized approach. The prospect you’re going to meet has probably seen multiple product demos already, so you need to stand out if you want to close the sale. Therefore, you must learn all you can about the person and their business before your meeting. 

At a minimum, you should know the names and job roles of everyone attending your demo. You can learn more about them by checking out their LinkedIn profiles ahead of time. 

You can also send out a short pre-meeting questionnaire to learn more about your prospect, the issues they face, and the need they’re hoping your product will address. The more information you gather, the more you’ll be able to tailor the demo to them. 

Pro tip: don’t just rely on your memory. Make notes and bring them to the meeting. 

Make it personal and relevant 

This may seem counterintuitive, but your product should not be the center of the product demo. Your prospect must be the primary focus, and your demo must be relevant to them. Of course, you want to show off your product’s features, but ensure you do so in a way that addresses the prospect’s needs and concerns. 

Clients are looking for a solution to their problem, so by identifying and addressing their pain points in your demo, you bring yourself closer to closing the sale.

Here’s an example of how the demo might go: 

  • An overview of the client’s current processes and business goals.
  • Pain points that cause the client to lose revenue. 
  • An introduction to your solution.
  • A demonstration of your solution and how it solves the problem the client identified. 
  • The opportunity for questions and clarification. This step also gives you the opportunity to address sales objections

To take the personalization to the next level, customize the demo version of the product, too. For instance, you could add their logo, color scheme, and relevant data. 

Example- 

If you’re demoing an ecommerce software, why not add a few items from their inventory to show off your product at work? This customization process adds a bit more work, but it also allows the prospect to envision your product as part of their business. 

Whatever system you use, ensure that the client is front and center. Take them on a journey, telling a story where they are the main character, and your product plays a supporting role. A generic sales pitch won’t cut it. 

Pinpoint where the prospect is on the customer journey

Customers do not make decisions on the fly. Before they make a large purchase, they do their research. Many will reach out to multiple vendors and may participate in several product demos before making a decision. The relationship you have with the prospect, from that first point of contact through to the sale and beyond, is called the customer journey. 

A customer journey map marks the key points of interaction between your brand and a prospective customer. To map your customer journey, stop thinking about your product and start thinking about the customer experience

A typical customer journey includes five main phases: searching for a solution, evaluating different solutions, experimentation, purchase, and retention. 

This useful example from CXL can help you work out what those stages look like in the context of your business: 

journey map

Source: CXL

Once you know where a prospect is in the customer journey, you can tailor your demo accordingly. A prospect in the awareness stage may have little knowledge of your product and how it can help them. But by the decision stage, they might be making a final decision between an expensive, cutting-edge solution and one with fewer features but a lower price point. 

Adapting your product demo to the prospect’s customer journey position allows you to give them a demo that will address their immediate needs and questions. If they’re in an earlier stage of the journey, a great demo can move them down the sales pipeline to the next stage. If they’re in the decision stage, the perfect demo can be just what is needed to close the deal and get their signature on the dotted line. 

Know your products and services inside-out

Knowing your product means more than just memorizing the technical manual. You need to be prepared for any questions your prospect is likely to ask you. Therefore, brush-up on your product knowledge ahead of each demo. 

This way, you won’t find yourself fumbling for an answer if your prospect asks you a question you weren’t expecting. Knowing everything about the product that you’re selling is an essential part of developing credibility. 

Prepare, prepare, prepare

You cannot be over-prepared for a product demo meeting. We’ve already discussed knowing your prospect and ensuring you address their specific needs and pain points. But there are other steps you should take to prepare, too.

Create an agenda and send it to everyone attending the meeting. This ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect. 

You should also rehearse your presentation ahead of time. Knowing what you want to say will allow you to go into the meeting, feeling calm and prepared. If possible, practice your presentation with a colleague and get their feedback.

Finally, test your tech before you start! There’s nothing more annoying (and unprofessional) than having to delay the meeting because you can’t get the conferencing software to work. Ideally, run a test call with a friend or colleague to ensure everything is working properly. Ensure your workspace has a stable internet connection and, if you have any doubts about sound quality, use an external headset with a microphone. 

Professionalism is essential 

It sounds obvious, but many people forget that unwavering professionalism is just as vital in a virtual demo as in a face-to-face meeting. Here are a few easy ways to ensure you stay professional in a virtual meeting: 

  • Ensure you won’t be disturbed. Make sure your partner, housemate, or children won’t interrupt you while you’re on your product demo call.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Ensure your background is professional. A tidy home office or neutral wall in a light color is ideal. If in doubt, use a virtual background.
professionalism is essential

Letting your professionalism drop will lower your credibility with your prospective client. So remember that though it is virtual, it is still a business meeting. 

Allow time to build rapport at the beginning 

It’s a good idea to allow a few minutes at the start of the meeting for small-talk. This is the casual chat about non-work topics that allows you to build rapport and get to know the other person. 

The topics of conversation are less important than simply using the time to develop a friendly back-and-forth. Just remember to stick to “safe” topics! Then, once you’ve put the client at ease, you can segue into the business part of the meeting. 

Agree on the next steps before you end the meeting

Never end a demo meeting without agreeing on the next steps. This will depend on what stage of the customer journey the prospect is in. 

For example, if they need extra time to think about your offering, you might agree to call them after two weeks to check-in. If on the other hand, they’re ready to buy, the next steps will be for you to send them a contract and for them to arrange payment. 

Set yourself up for virtual product demo success

Even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat, it seems likely that remote working is here to stay. According to a recent survey by Gartner, 74% of companies expect that at least some of their workforce will continue to work remotely indefinitely. 

Therefore, virtual sales meetings and product demos are also going to be around for the long haul. If you want to keep your sales figures up and grow your business success, you’ll need to get to grips with demonstrating products and closing sales remotely. 

Remember the core principles of an amazing virtual product demo:

  • Get to know your prospect as much as possible before the meeting. 
  • Personalize your demo to connect it directly with the customer’s needs and pain points. 
  • Map out your customer journey and understand which stage the prospect is in so you can tailor your demo accordingly.
  • Get to know your product inside out and ensure your knowledge is up to date. 
  • Prepare, practice, and test your tech. 
  • Be unfailingly professional.
  • Small talk is valuable – make time for it. 
  • Never end a meeting without agreeing on the next steps. 

Many salespeople who are used to face-to-face meetings are struggling with the abrupt pivot to online sales. However, here’s a vital thing to understand: a virtual meeting really isn’t all that different from a physical meeting. 

So stop worrying, and get out there so you can start demoing your product and closing those sales! 

Bio

Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO and co-founder of 3dcart, an ecommerce software platform to build SEO-friendly online stores. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.

An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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