Launching a tech startup? If you really want to impress your prospects, you should consider offering them a product demonstration.
Demos allow consumers to test-drive your product or service. According to Robert Fassold, co-founder of Ultra-Practical Solutions, a small-business software provider, they are "absolutely necessary" in the following situations:
- The product is somewhat unique and many potential customers may not understand what it is from the description.
- There is a "wow" factor that can be demonstrated only in person.
- The product may be bundled with additional products and services, and the demo provides the opportunity to cross-sell.
A demo is much like a consultation, said Alex Haimann, head of business development at Less Annoying CRM. Essentially, you are offering your prospect insights on your product and showing them its exclusive benefits.
If you're setting up demos with potential customers, here's a step-by-step guide to help you close the deal. [See Related Story: 4 Keys to a Successful Sales Pitch]
1. Start with a conversation
Asking sales prospects about their business, interests and needs allows you to reflect on your product and connect with the potential buyer, Haimann said. For example, you may ask the prospects why they want to use your product, what experience they have with similar products, and whether or not your product is in their budget.
Fassold agreed, noting that budget should be a priority topic, so you don't end up wasting time on a demo if the customer has no intention of buying.
"Get to the budget discussion as early as possible, or use your product's affordability as a way of defeating the budget argument," he said.
During your initial conversation, focus on ways that your product can cater to the needs of that specific customer.
"Make a note of terminology they use and anything that could help shape the demo," Haimann said. "Don't be afraid of asking follow-up questions — you wouldn't want to miss a key factor or condition in what your prospect wants!"
2. Customize your demo to the client
Be sure to customize the product demonstration for each prospect to ensure the customer has an exceptional experience, Haimann said.
"You have to do something that will explicitly help the customer use your product and help them have an 'aha' moment," he said. "For us, that means customizing their account so that they don’t have to worry about doing it themselves and they can really see what their business looks like in the CRM. For your business, simply do something your customer might need help with. If your company offers website creation services, start customizing your prospect's new site. If you host an online marketplace, set up a vendor slot."
"Don't settle into a demo pattern, or you'll stop listening to what your prospect really wants," Haimann added.
Additionally, make sure you clear up any questions or concerns regarding your product.
"If the customer is not getting it, then turn the session into a discovery and find out what the customer is truly looking for, and give them some good tips to where to find it," said Fassold. "Selling a customer something they don't understand creates a help-desk nightmare scenario and ultimately bad press."
3. Prepare for technical difficulties
Demos are not always successful, Fassold said, so it is crucial to test your systems and always have a backup plan.
"When it comes to demos, Murphy's Law is always lurking: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong," he said. "For example, I used my brother as a test subject for my demo, which required him to a download an internet plug-in. This process worked flawlessly on all the other tests we had run. However, we could not get his PC to run the plug-in. The lesson I learned was always have a backup, even if it is a presentation of the screens without the live demo."
4. End with an open invitation
Much like the start of the demo, you'll want to end with questions to ensure you get beneficial feedback. Clear up any concerns and offer follow-ups a few weeks later to keep the lines of communication open.
“Take notes on everything that transpired and close with a summary of the next steps or action items," Fassold told Business News Daily. "Talk among the other members of your demo team to get consensus on viability of the sales and the customer's primary objections. Then, follow-up [with the prospect] immediately with a thank-you note, including how to buy the product if they're interested."
Need help with your sales pitch? Check out Business News Daily's guide here.