5 Points to Help You Nail Your Next Demo Meeting

demo meeting

Initial demo meetings are stressful.

You’re making your first impression, setting the tone for future conversations, and establishing trust to ensure a continued relationship with this potential customer.

Everyone wants to know the secrets to nailing these critical first meetings, which is why we’ve been discussing this in detail with our last two posts, on proposal structure and how to NEVER email one.)

Now we’ll consider the nitty gritty of these initial interactions. There are hundreds of small steps and tactics to consider when introducing your product to a potential buyer, and plenty of opportunities to blow it, rebound, and blow it again. But if you know which points are most important to nail, you can almost always finish strong, even with a few blunders along the way.

I’ve run thousands of meetings with everyone from senior executives to junior level staffers, and have identified the critical points that must be focused on for a successful demo meeting.

1. Preparation

Researching your prospect is the most critical task in planning for a first meeting. Knowing their business will allow you to prepare an appropriate pitch, as well as rebuttals for possible objections. You must anticipate their questions and concerns, and do your best to be prepared for anything they throw at you. The more information you can learn about them before you speak, the better.

Try role playing with potential objections and questions based on what you know about this person, how long they’ve been there, their background, and the industry. The confidence that comes with preparation is invaluable.

2. Start strong and stick to the plan.

This alone can make your meetings run exponentially smoother. Many people jump right in without any indication as to where they’re going. Instead, slow down and start with small talk to lighten the mood. Then set a clear value statement to make it clear as to why they should be excited about this conversation. In other words, tell them what problem of theirs you’re about to solve. Then move on to a clear agenda. Communicating an outline for the meeting will put you in control, and make your prospect comfortable because they know what to expect. Here’s an example of our most common meeting agenda.

“I’m going to take 2-5 minutes to better understand key details, then I’ll walk you through what we do at a high level. If it seems like a fit at that point, we can discuss how we’ll move forward from there.”

3. Always recap after key discovery questions.

Many times we ask rapid fire questions and then go straight into the pitch. Recapping will keep everyone on the same page with confirmation that both sides are understood.

4. Open-ended questions first, closed questions later.

As salespeople we tend to fear open ended questions because it hands some control over to the prospect in steering the conversation. But if used correctly, open-ended questions are a powerful tool in understanding each other. Following up with, “Why?” and, “What else?” can turn simple questions into significant pieces of information.

Two questions I find particularly useful are…

“How would you see this working at ?”

and…

“Is this something you can see helping with ?”

These force the prospect to think through the process of on-boarding your product and imagining the steps of going through with the purchase.

Once you’ve gathered some useful information with these open-ended questions, it’s time to transition to close-ended to seal the deal.

“Is this something you can see helping with ?”

One question to avoid at all costs is, “Does that make sense?”

People will always say yes, no matter how little sense it makes, because no one wants to look stupid. It’s a pointless question that won’t get you anywhere and it’s used far too often by seasoned sales people and newbies alike.

5. Pause your pitch and let them talk.

If you’ve been taking for more than a minute or two, shut up and ask a question.  As salespeople, we might mistakenly think we’re the Shakespeares of pitching, masterfully crafting soliloquies that are disarm our prospect at every turn. But successful conversations require participation by both parties.  Make sure you are constantly checking in to make sure you are both on the same page.  There is no point so critical that it requires 7 minutes of explanation.

As I said in the beginning, there are hundreds of interaction points in a meeting but only a few can make or break it.  We can’t expect to hit every note perfectly, but it’s crucial it hit the big ones.  These five points will ensure that you stay in tune with your prospect and set yourself up for success.

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