10 Preparation Steps to Killer Demos!

I said on LinkedIn recently that you should ‘go the extra mile’ when doing demo prep. In fact the concept of ‘going the extra mile’ should actually be ‘the new normal’! Allowing many multiples of the demo duration for prep time is vital to ensure you build out everything you need and be fully prepared to deliver that killer demo.

No matter how much you think you’ve prepared you can always do more and you should if you have the time. Nail the message, the value, the technology, the data, the opening, the close the next steps... all need to be prepared well ahead of time.

Easier said than done with a packed calendar though, right? Let me share with you my tips and shortcuts to get in the right spot quickly and efficiently to nail it every time!

My top 10 tips for demo preparation success:

1) Record your dry run and listen back to it, put yourself in your audiences’ shoes. Understand how you come across and the way you sound telling your story. Do you hit the right points? Get the right value across? Go too long on one point... not have the right look and feel on another? All things you’ll only see if you step back and review it objectively as a participant.

2) A practice by yourself before the main dry run with the team will inspire huge confidence. Prep for the prep! This is a key tactic for gaining confidence, especially when presenting to the toughest critics… your internal team!

3) Don’t write a script, you’ll just get wrapped up in the words. Make bullet point notes, focus on the value points and practice your storytelling. Scripts never work, you’ll always come across like you’re reading from it. Be natural and trust in your base knowledge and preparation.

4) Don’t have the dry run the day before, build in plenty of time to adjust and adapt based on the feedback. Doing a dry run with no time to adjust means you might as well not bother doing it!

5) Double check your demo data / environment still looks great after the dry run. Reset everything and check it just before the real thing. This is small, but vital to ensure you don’t hit any unexpected issues in your data set.

6) Have a solid plan on who owns what content and always be on the same page with your co-presenters. This is often what takes so much time and practice. It’s easy to understand what you are going to say, but how that interweaves in a complex presentation structure with another presenter can be tough. This exemplifies the importance of having a great AE/SE relationship.

7) Prepare to be agile and thrown off track. Be ready and predict where the conversation might go and have the confidence to bring it back on track as and when appropriate. It’s easy for one strong personality in the audience to dominate, so be prepared for that and react accordingly.

8) Build in redundancy wherever you can. Be prepared for WIFI to go out, power to drop, or your application to crash. Always have videos and screenshots ready to save the day. Prepare for the unexpected!

9) Don’t over rehearse your talk track. Indeed you should know it very well, and have your bullet points locked down, but the more you go over your ‘lines’ the more nervous you will get about missing them and the higher the stress levels.

10) And finally… my killer tip for demo success… Dry run with your champion. Validate your approach then get them bought into your message. Even have them co-present if possible. Having your champion sell for you is sales gold!

Never has the phrase ‘fail to prepare, you should be prepared to fail’ been so relevant. Booking prep time should be as important as securing the meeting date itself. If you try and cram it in amongst other calls or try and ‘wing it’ you might get lucky… but chances are you would do a much better job if you had invested the time. Your AE should be fully aligned to this as well, especially as they are probably booking the meeting. Align with them on your needs and you will succeed together!

Happy Monday!

Matt Finch is the Vice President, Global Solutions Consulting at Mavenlink. He's passionate about SaaS technology, leadership, and sales excellence has enabled him to successfully build award-winning sales, pre-sales, consulting and enablement organizations across the world.

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The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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