How to Give Effective Online Demos

Best Practices for Online Demos in B2B & Software Sales

posted by Philip in May

It was a long way to get to the product demo stage. Marketing budget was invested to capture leads, many sales mails followed until the prospect agreed to the online demo. Now, it’s your turn to present your product in the best possible spotlight. You just started the online demo and the disaster happened. The scree-sharing service did not work, your prospect has not been able to install it, or you just found a new bug in your system during the demo. As usual, you apologize for the inconveniences, the prospective customer says something like “no problem” and you exactly know that the next chance to close a promising deal just disappeared. We all know these situations. Find out how to change for the better in future – without any technical problems, without any bugs and with much more self-esteem.


Why your online demos fail

Online demos are one of the most crucial elements in sales, especially for B2B or software products. It takes a lot of effort to bring the customer from the first lead stage to the product demo. The deal is very promising and the last thing that should now happen is to fail at the demo. In many cases, it is not directly your fault that the product demo was a catastrophe. Many external and technical circumstances can destroy your demo, before you even started with your pitch. Here are 4 of the top reasons why your product demo did not convince the prospect:


1. Technical problems with your webinar solution

Most product demos take place over distance nowadays. It is much cheaper and more efficient than meeting in person. Even though there are hundreds of webinar solutions out there, most screen-sharing solutions suck. How often did it happen to you that the first minutes of the product demo have been wasted with some technical explanations on how to install the software, start the meeting or anything related to that? It happens every day that product demos are messed up before the pitch even started. If you use a webinar solution where the prospective customer first has to install something (and even if it takes only five seconds), you have a big problem. Many businesses, especially bigger corporations, do not allow their employees to install software without some prior tests of the IT department. Even top managers often have to request the usage of a new tool before being able to install it. Yes, you can now complain about that and discuss how unfair the world is – but that’s just part of the sales game. What can you do to avoid that? We will talk about that below in more detail, but you maybe decide to choose an online product presentation that finally works (without any installations) or you simply use your phone for the demo.


2. Bugs

It’s great that you want to show your prospective customer how your product works. Nothing better than a screen-sharing solution which shows your product in real-time, or? Well, it depends. If you are hundred percent convinced that your product will work without bugs during the demo, yes. But if there is only a small potential risk that a bug occurs during the live demo, no. If you ever worked in software development, you know the golden rule: there are always bugs. Not even the best solutions in the world are bug-free. That’s normal. Every time when you release a new feature, some new bugs occur. Nobody knows why and it takes weeks to fix them. Of course, you will detect them first during the sales demo – right in front of your customer’s eyes. In this situation, there is not much that you can do. Naturally, you will apologize for it. If you are a little bit more experienced, you take the “chance” and show the potential client how great your customer support works by immediately contacting them. Honestly, it is very annoying to hear that all the time for your customers. This is the live demo. You are an expert in handling your product. Only the basic features got presented so far. How they hell can there be a bug?! The prospect does not care about your support team, he wants to use a system which just works. It’s not your fault that there are bugs. But it’s your fault that you chose to present them in front of your customer. Instead, you could have chosen to present a slideshow with screenshots about how your product works. Why? We will discuss all the advantages below, but you probably already understood the main point: there are no bugs in a PDF document with screenshots.


3. You are unprepared

While the first two points are (mainly) not your fault, it’s your blame if you are not prepared. It just happens that you go into the demo without knowing anything about the prospect and his company. You feel confident about explaining your product and all its advantages. The customer will then (hopefully) tell you how great your product is and what he shall use it for. Wrong. It’s your product. You are the sales guy. So, sell! Make sure to understand your prospects situation, his business needs and which solutions the company currently uses. Demonstrate that you care about your customers and show your interest in helping the prospect to meet his targets. If you find out what the prospect is looking for during the call, it is too late. Preparation is as important as the demo itself.


4. Your customer does not show up

It happens from time to time that your customer does not show up for the online demo. Especially if you use automatic online calendars where the prospect selects a certain date for the demo without directly getting in touch with you, this can happen. In some cases, you can prevent the situation by remembering the client about the demo. In case that your client does not show up, you should try to call him or write him an email a couple of minutes after the meeting started – maybe he just forgot to join but still has time. In case that this does not work, try to arrange a new product demo as soon as possible.


How to effectively hold sales demos online

After discussing the most common reasons why product demos fail, I want to share best practices with you on how to make them perfect. Even though it is not possible to prevent all external circumstances, you should use your whole power to minimize potential problems. By following these 4 recommendations, you will soon experience better product demos and feel more comfortable in making them.


1. Use PDFs with product screenshots

Screen-sharing solutions include technical problems and need a strong internet bandwidth on both sides. If you now add the problems of bugs which can occur during the live demo, you will understand why PDFs are the better way to demonstrate your product. In the end of the day, the product demo is a sales call. It should give the prospective customer a better understanding on how your product works and which advantages it has. By sharing your screen and switching between the product and the slideshow which highlights the benefits, you will fluster your client. Instead, you should create one sales pitch which shows the most important features of your software in a slideshow. This helps you to guide the customer through the product, while you can additionally integrate some slides which highlight the advantages of your features compared to competitors. No bugs can occur since you only show screenshots. The product demo is not the place where your client must see all details of the product. In most cases, a trial period will follow the successful product demo. Focus on several screenshots and meet your client’s expectations – without fearing bugs and technical screen-sharing issues. Many modern sales teams understood the advantages of PDF pitches instead of screen-sharing webinars. Try it yourself and you will see why they chose to do so.


2. Present online with Beamium

What’s the easiest and most reliable way to talk to somebody over distance? Correct, your phone! That’s why you should use it for a solid audio line. If you talk to somebody in another country or to more than one person, you can use FreeConferenceCall or similar services for setting up meeting rooms. In addition to having a solid audio system, Beamium should be used to present your sales slideshow online. Simply upload your sales pitch on www.beamium.com and share the viewer access link with the prospect. The only thing the prospect has to do: clicking on the link. That’s it. No installations and it works on every browser (on notebooks, smartphones and tablets). Your viewer will always be on the same slide as you. Even if the prospect forgot to open the link prior to the call, he just needs to go to beamium.com and enter the 8-digit presentation ID which you can also share verbally. This guarantees a smooth experience, no matter how clumsy the prospect is. After the end of your presentation, you can enable the prospect to go freely through the document and download it afterwards. No need to send an extra email with a large document attached. And most important: no risk that any technical problems occur.



3. Be prepared

After ensuring that the demo works without technical issues and without bugs, it’s up to you to make the product demo perfect. Find out which goals your prospect’s business has this year and how you can help them to achieve the targets. Share some examples about how other customers used your product to deal with similar challenges and which results they achieved. That’s not rocket since. It’s simply a couple of minutes looking around on the web about your client and his company.


4. Follow-up

Every sales rep knows about the power of follow-ups. Deals are not closed during the sales call, they get successfully closed afterwards. Equally important to delivering a good product demo is to follow up. Especially in B2B and SaaS sales where sales cycles are long, it is important to effectively learn on how to stay in touch with prospects and form a relationship. The magic buzzword many modern sales experts use is called “customer insights”. It means that you get insights on the interests and questions that your prospects have. Instead of asking them, if they already had time to look at your presentation – you should know that! How? By using the sales acceleration features of Beamium. Your leads will not only be analyzed based on their behavior in the presentation, they will also be categorized with a sophisticated lead score. This ensures that you can focus on the most promising ones. Additionally, you are able to understand which parts of the product your customers like most and where they churned your sales pitch. The more insights you get about your customer’s level of interest on specific slides, the easier it will be to follow-up. The great customer insights of Beamium will help you to make your slides more effective and simultaneously enable you to make the next sales call more concrete.


I hope that you found this blog post about online product demos helpful and that you now replace your old-fashioned webinar solution with a modern sales presentation technology. It is very difficult to sell nowadays and there are many problems which make your life difficult – but technology should not be one of them. I wish you all the best for your next product demos, you will rock them!

Image Source: ©unsplash.com/@crew


Author: Philip Beamium icon