If you are a new technical sales engineer, you may not be familiar with the delicate art of technical sales demo to potential clients.
The technical demo is something so important that a simple mistake may lose a deal and that is why I would like to share my experience with you about my own mistakes.
No one can avoid mistakes, and doing many mistakes from the beginning is actually a good strategy to learn what works and what does not… but every mistake may cost a lot to your company especially in a technical sales demo, so if you can prepare yourself correctly you will have already a high chance to reduce the risks and turn the odds against you.
Now let’s review some of the common mistakes that new Sales Engineers are doing.
Technical Sales Demo Mistake 1: Using the reference material that the company provides
May sound strange right? Especially if you are new in a position, you may think that your company knows already THE WAY to present your product in the best possible way.
If you are in a company with a strong engineering culture, there is a big chance that the materials that have already been prepared by other engineers to present your product are actually feature oriented rather than benefit oriented. They will tell about every feature you have, every button and probably you will take some time to understand the presentation by yourself if you are not familiar with your product for a long time. The trap is that you will ultimately master this presentation and every page…
Why is it a trap?
The mistake lies in the fact that any great technical sales demo is centered on the needs of your future client and the benefits that your product will provide to him, not around your product and the features that it possesses.
Reminder: Benefits are very different from product features. For example, a benefit is the amount of time or the money saved, whereas the feature is the characteristic of the product that allow this benefit to happen.
Never “fall in love” with your product. This unfortunately happens very often… you like so much your job and your company that you start to think you have best product on earth and you start to present it even more in details to your prospects.
Your prospects do not know your product and they are not interested into knowing every aspect of the graphical interface. You will probably cause the contrary effect and make they think that your software is very difficult to use if you move back and forth in the menus.
If you are presenting to other engineers that are familiar with products or software similar to yours, they may understand and ask about the features, but do not think that this is the case of everyone. High executives do not necessarily have an engineering background. What they want to know is “If I purchased this product, my team will be X times more efficient because then will save XX time and thus I will save XXM$ of money”.
If you succeed to present the benefits your prospect want to see in a compelling manner, you place your product first in their mind as the solution to their challenges. The following of the sales process will be easier and the price will become a mere triviality at the end of the technical sale process.
Technical Sales Demo Mistake 2: Surcharge the slides of your presentation with text and images
When you are an engineer, you are accustomed to read papers surcharged of information, because you know that all this information is crucial to understand your topic in details. When you are doing some research, you can spend a lot of time on every graph, equation until it imprints in your mind, and you understand perfectly how things are working.
A Demo to a prospect is not a presentation of a technical paper and you are not trying to educate or train people. You want them to grasp quickly the key points of each slides so that they can imagine themselves using your software and succeeding in their own project.
If you start with slides full of graphs and photos of your software’s interface, you will make them want to sleep and their attention will wander around something else.
So what is the trick?
Keep the slides as simple as possible!
One slide, one idea.
Try to follow a story that is compelling to your prospect and will remind them of their own challenges. Then link the problem with your solution.
If you are interested into building simple and visual presentations with a great storyline, I recommend this book from Nancy Duarte. It’s one of the best books on the topic I ever read
Technical Sales Demo Mistake 3: Sit and read the description that you prepared for each slides
This is for engineers who are not comfortable to speak in public… what you may think is: “I don’t like to speak in public because I am not sure if I will tell everything correctly” or “people may think that I am not good enough and criticize me”.
One simple way out WOULD BE to write exactly what you will say, and during the presentation, sit before your computer and read.
Don’t do it… This kind of presentation is the most boring of all for the prospects watching.
So what should I do?
A technical sales demo is like theatre. You should move, put some emotions, interact with your prospect to be sure that they stay engaged and that they catch all the key points of the presentation.
If you are afraid to do that, find some way to gain confidence and remove this fear.
You should understand that people watching the technical sales demo never care about YOU. They only care about the incredible benefits you will bring to them.
Think like that: You are a hero for them; you are the guy that will finally solve the painful problems they have for months and maybe even years.
Sometimes I am using what is called the “circle of confidence” technique. Before you do this technical sales demo, imagine that you are someone incredibly important that everyone loves. It can be a super hero or the president of the United States, whoever you like… put you in his shoes. Imagine that you are he and that everything you have to say is so important that it could change the world. If you practice this technique regularly, you will have a way to gain instant confidence before any presentation.
Be just careful, because you will be confident to say anything, even BS, so your technical sales demo itself should be good as well 😉
Technical Sales Demo Mistake 3: Do not repeat the software/product demo because you did it hundred times before
This is very PRACTICAL advice because it is something that happened to me several times.
When you are used to perform the same demo, you will gain confidence and start to think that you could do it in your sleep….so you don’t repeat the demo before the presentation because it is just too simple…
The day of the technical sales demo, you miss just one single step; the software starts to slow down and miserably crashes… and that HURTS because you know that THIS mistake will lose the deal and you may get fired…
So what should I do?
I guess the solution is clear here… never fall into over confidence and repeat systematically the software demo several times before any presentation in front of a prospect.
Technical Demo Mistake 4: Train the prospect about your product
I already mentioned that the purpose was not to train your prospect, but I think this point have to be clear in your mind:
First priority is to create the desire in your prospect to know more about your product and advance the sale.
You want them to think:
“Oh S***, if I am not able to solve my problem with such an awesome product, I will never be able to do it–> I need this product”
SHOW them that you have the power to solve their most painful problem, but don’t tell them in details how.
Most people don’t care about the strategy, the “How”, they care only about the result. If you talk too in details about the way to solve a problem in details step-by-step, they may lose interest and even think that this is too complex for them and lose interest.
…Of course, they will ultimately have to learn that, but not NOW. After the purchase, they will be committed, because they have no other choice.
What does advance the sale means?
When you meet your prospect for the first time, they are at point A, they have a problem that they don’t know how to solve. You want them to move to point B, where they can actually articulate clearly what is the main problem and why your solution is exactly what they need to solve it.
############ Advanced Notion############
A desire gap is the difference between their actual state where they have this problem and their FUTURE state where they purchased this product of yours and are happy because they freed themselves of this problem.
When such desire gap is created into your prospect subconscious, they will start to think over and over again about the best way to reduce it and the best way out is to purchase your product.
Make them imagine vividly that they are using your product and that they already have it in their possession and you increase the desire gap. More the gap is important and more they will want to close quickly the deal.
Of course, there are much more things to say… so If you have something in your mind, in your experience, write it here in the comments! I’d love to hear from you