Postmortem of a Product Demo

Today I sat through a product demo. That’s nothing new for anyone in a startup, especially someone trying to develop the perfect sales stack.

As a sales person, I am always analyzing how others try to sell to me. I thought this demo would make for a good case study on what to do and what not to do with potential clients.

What the rep did well:

Found me through a really creative method

  • I was talking in an open forum about a product I was looking at and he identified me there as a prospect. That’s a pretty unique way to find highly targeted leads, which I can appreciate as someone who tries to target high quality prospects.

Set the appointment well by showing I was looking at a competitor

  • His initial email emphasized the similarity of his product to the one I was considering purchasing — great timing and relevance. I could not have been more interested in seeing a product demo.

Had great confidence in his product

  • I knew that this guy thought his product was great. He wasn’t trying to slip one by me. (For why this matters, see my article on how to sell a losing product.)
What the rep could have improved on:

Started right in on the product demo — no questions about me, my company, or my process

  • Other than the fact that I was looking at buying a similar product, he didn’t have any idea how his product would fit me and my company. He could have asked me anything — I was impressed with how he found me and wanted to know more. But as soon as the demo started, I mentally shut down.

Made inaccurate assumptions about my operations

  • He mentioned that I would be working within my clients’ CRMs. I don’t do that. I have my own leads management platform — but you don’t ask, you don’t find out.

Vaguely referenced multiple times features I wouldn’t get to access

  • Apparently because I work with multiple clients I would have to pay more for certain product features. Whatever; I didn’t have a problem with that. But he must have mentioned this lack of access at least three times without ever saying what the features were I was missing out on. I finally called him out and got to see the features: turns out I don’t even need them. Crisis averted.

I’m certain that the product I reviewed is valuable. But buying a product that’s in its early stages (this one is) for a company in its early stages (mine is) means more partnership than purchase.

I’m not certain that I’ll buy. I’m not going to lose out on a good thing because of an imperfect sales presentation, but some aspects were so offputting that I really felt like a prospect. That’s not a comfortable place to be (which is a good reminder for me too).

What was the worst demo you’ve seen (or given)? The best? We’d love to hear your story and learn from your experience.

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