Entrepreneur

10 tips for hosting killer online sales demos


This post is sponsored by Citrix GoToMeeting. As always, VentureBeat is adamant about maintaining editorial objectivity.

You’ve got exactly what a prospective client needs to grow their business: the right service, the right software, or the right product. But how are you going to convince her of that fact when she’s in New York and you’re in Chicago? With a killer online sales demonstration, of course.

But online sales demos need to be done right or you’ll lose the client’s attention, and then you’ll lose the sale. Here are 10 tips for delivering killer online sales demos.

  1. Do your homework
    Before you open up your laptop and start broadcasting, spend time talking to and researching your customer. Ask questions: Who is she? What does she need? Why? How will your solution be used? Who will use it? Once you know the answers, customize your presentation accordingly. Make it relevant to your customer’s specific situation, and you’ll close more sales.
  2. Don’t waste time
    No one has time to waste on long, drawn-out introductions, explanations, or product demos. Imagine Steve Jobs is at the other end of your demo, and he’s itching to get the big picture and see the relevant details, right away, without any dressing or flowery language. Respect your client’s time, and they’ll respect yours.
  3. Make it a story
    We forget facts; we remember stories. Loading a prospective buyer up with a million facts about your software or solution is counterproductive. They won’t remember them, but they will remember being bored by you. Not good. Instead, make the demo a story — the story of your client solving the problem they have. That’s going to be more memorable: There’s a hero, a problem, and a solution. Much more interesting!
  4. Walk through typical uses — avoid the feature dump
    We’ve all been in the demo or presentation where a “sales engineer” is engineering his way through every single menu, every single item, and every single option in his unnecessarily complex software. Did you find that fun? Enlightening? Enjoyable? Or were you just about ready to connect your head with a hard object, quickly? Remember that feeling … and do whatever it takes to avoid replicating it in your clients. Because, with apologies, your tedious list of features is just as boring as his. Instead, walk through some common processes or typical uses. Ignore edge cases, unless there’s one the client has specifically mentioned they need. Do not walk through the configuration or installation steps. Instead, show your client what she’ll be able to do with your solution.
  5. Customize your pitch for every client
    If your client is in the automotive industry, customize your examples to that segment.Don’t use examples from the packaged consumer goods industry … unless you can find an angle that credibly connects the two.
  6. Sweat the small stuff
    This one may be obvious, but if so, it’s evidence that common sense isn’t nearly common enough. Make sure you get all the tech details sorted out before you start. Test, try, demo to a colleague before you demo to a prospect, and work out all the bugs.In addition, make sure you know your clients’ computing set-up, and check with the vendor who provides your screen-sharing or webinar software. Are they compatible? Are there plugins that need to be downloaded and installed? Do whatever you can to ensure that all those details are taken care of before your presentation is due to begin.
  7. Provide social proof
    Whether you’re a startup or a huge company, don’t assume your prospect has heard of you, knows your story, or has faith in your ability to provide the correct solution.Ease her mind and reduce the perceived risk by mentioning clients who have used your solution successfully. Apologies, but no one wants to be your guinea pig. Everyone wants to know that this is not your first rodeo.
  8. Talk less, listen more
    There is a famous adage in sales lore: “In a single day, Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Every day, thousands of sales are killed with the same weapon.”Don’t let your mouth be your worst enemy. Pause, ask questions, and listen. When your potential client is speaking more than you, you’re doing your job well. And you’re positioning yourself for a sale by engaging your prospect.
  9. Be flexible
    Sometimes your client wants to go in a different direction than your pre-planned 15-slide presentation. Remember who is making the buying decision, and let them go. Redirect if absolutely necessary, but do it with caution.Remember, your customer knows what they need to understand and what questions they need answered before they can sign a check. Insisting on sticking to your presentation is not going to make you popular … and an unlikeable sales rep is a poor sales rep.
  10. Don’t forget sales 101
    You’re showing your product, you’re customizing the presentation to your client, you’re listening, you’re doing it all right. Just don’t forget why you’re there: to make a sale. When the opportunity comes (and you may have to invent the opportunity), ask for the sale.You may have to use trial closes if you’re early in the sales process, but you need to make this more than simply an informational session. It is, but it’s also a sales call, and your job is to provide the information and context within which your client can make a good decision.

Now you’re a pro: ready to go. Load up with lots of energy and make it fun for both you and your client!

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee


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