Let's face it, your product demo probably sucks. Maybe not in 5000 different ways, but almost every product demo fails in one of a handful of dimensions that destroy its impact.

#5 Your Product Isn't Stand-Alone

If your product doesn't actually do anything without another product driving the bus, you probably shouldn't be doing a product demo most of the time.

I've spent about half of my career at database companies. Databases are engines, not cars. You can't demo an engine because they don't do anything, they power others to do things. Think about the last time you went to a car dealership for a test drive... did you drive the engine around the lot? No, of course not, you drove the car. Sure, you experienced the power of the motor, but you also experienced the air conditioned leather seats and the surround sound system, and 100 other things about the car.

I have tried dozens of ways to demo a database. My feeling about almost all of them is "meh" - not exactly a ringing endorsement.

That doesn't mean I won't do one when necessary - but I don't lead with a demo for a product that does its best work behind the scenes.

#4 Your Spokesperson Doesn't Embody the User

This is a big one that isn't talked about a lot. The person doing the demo has to channel the heart of the user to be effective. If they don't, they'll be tuned out almost immediately by the audience.

Because of this, I'm not a huge fan of recorded demos - when was the last time a video demo made you feel like "this person has walked a mile in my shoes"? I see a lot of marketing for this product that wants to record and can demos so you can stop wasting an SEs time - if it's a waste of time for the SE to do the demo, just don't do the demo. Seriously.

#3 The Demo Doesn't Resonate with Your Brand Story

I talk about the brand story in my eBook so I won't pontificate about it here, but if your demo doesn't resonate with your brand story, not even the world's best demo will save you.

Why? Because you're fighting against the gravity of every other message your customer is receiving about your product and company. Just like you can't be the cool/weird company and have your sales engineer show up in 3-piece tailored suit for a meeting with an engineering team, you can't have your demo tell a bargain-basement story if your brand image is upscale (or the opposite).

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#2 Your Demo Focuses on Features/Functions, not Outcomes

Sorry, but no one gives a *&#$ about your product having x feature or y function. They care about how your product is going to solve a problem for them, so tell that story and casually show how your features and functions enable that outcome.

I don't care if you're going in because they specifically ASKED for a feature demo. Show them the outcome that the feature (and 5 other features they haven't thought about yet) enables them to solve their real problem.

#1 Your Demo Isn't Telling the Right Stories

Beyond your demo just being consistent with your brand, if it doesn't tell the right stories no one will care.

What are the right stories? At a minimum, you need to tell the following stories:

1) Customer Story - why the product will make the customer successful

2) Company Story - why should they choose you to solve this problem for them and not someone else

3) Users' Story - how all these pieces come together to solve a real problem

4) Your Story - make the demo personal and add an anecdote about how a tool like this would have solved one of your own problems

There are more stories you could tell in your demo, of course. But if you don't tell at least these stories, in a way that's consistent with your brand story, you're better off not doing a demo at all.

Don't believe me? When was the last time you closed a deal after a bad demo?

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