I have bad news for anyone who does virtual demos for products or capability presentations: no one wants to see them.
Seriously. Get over it.
Once you realize that it will be much easier to sell your software.
To clarify: they might have signed up for a virtual demo. They might have even clicked a box on your website asking you to please schedule them for one. They might have to watch it to learn what you’ve got, but they “want” to see it like you “want” to go to the bank on a long-weekend Friday. (It serves an important function, but it’s no one’s idea of fun.)
Understanding what customers want in a virtual demo is critical in changing them from time-consuming events that are a necessary part of the sales process to a step in a shortened sales cycle that helps them get on with their lives and makes them glad they met you.
Here are some tips — I apologize for any hurt feelings:
- Customers have only one question on their mind: “Can this thing solve my current business problem?” If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to a sale, if the answer is “no”, don’t waste their (and your) valuable time. Ask plenty of questions before you start presenting, even if it means you never get to actually demo the product. And don’t take all day getting to the stuff they care about or you’ll lose them.
- Buyers don’t care how cool your technology is. This one is hard to take, especially since many of us doing virtual demos built the products in question and are quite impressed with ourselves. The genius of your algorithm or the glory of your GUI (and use of GUI) is a leading indicator you’ve lost touch with your audience. It means nothing if it doesn’t help make their job easier and less complicated. Lots of us like to show off all the features because it’s “value added”. Since it’s not valuable unless the customer says they really care about it, that’s actually “time deleted”, not value added.
- Don’t talk like a programmer. Odds are that early in the sales cycle the person watching the virtual demo is not as technically adept as you are. They are probably not even IT people; they’re in Finance, or Sales or even HR, whichever group is actually going to use it. Use a “programmer-to-mortal” dictionary if you have to and, use their language not yours.
- They need to know you understand their issues.
Two things will help put them at ease:
1. Tell success stories that relate to their business.If they’re a small business, don’t tell them IBM uses your product and loves it (they’ll think you’re too complicated and expensive). Conversely if you’re selling to a big enterprise, don’t tell them about the “Little Company That Could” (you won’t scale to their needs).
2. Use their examples. If the audience is in HR, show them how to do the task they need done. Don’t use a sales example to the IT group. And if they call it a “screen” instead of an “interface”, you can too.
No one signs up for a web demo with a Slurpee, a jumbo bag of popcorn and a comfy chair. They want their questions answered, their problem solved and their lives back. You probably have better things to do, too.
Stop treating virtual demos as presentations and more like real sales calls.
That’s what they are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment.