The 3 Critical Elements for a Successful Product Demo

Photo by  Austin Distel  on  Unsplash

You’re launching a new product and want to schedule appointments with prospects and customers you believe might be interested in a demo. But once you’ve nailed down the meeting, how do you ensure that you deliver a presentation that packs a powerful punch—and inspires your customer to take the next step?

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle offers insight into this topic with his work “The Art of Rhetoric,” which was published about 2,400 years ago.  

Aristotle introduced the three elements of influence that still serve as the foundation for effective sales communications today. And If you overlook any of the three elements when planning and delivering your product demo, you’ll stack the odds against you being able to win over your audience.

What are those three elements?

#1. Ethos.

Aristotle uses this Greek term to refer to the character and credibility of the speaker—which is you.

Does the prospect believe in you, trust that you have their best interest in mind, and have the confidence that you know what you're talking about?

The idea here is that you can present the most compelling product, but if customers don't trust or believe in you or your company, they'll dismiss your recommendations before you even give them.

Now, if you’ve scheduled a demo, you have established some level of trust with the prospect. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have agreed to meet with you. That’s great! But the important thing here is this: Don’t blow it!

Be meticulously prepared. Dress appropriately. Put together an agenda for the prospect so they know what to expect. 

The last thing you want to do is give the impression that you’re winging it. This will insult the customer and undermine your credibility. They’ll check out before you even get into the nuts and bolts of your demo.  

#2. Pathos.

This term refers to the emotional disposition of the audience.

Aristotle talks about how we look at things differently based on our emotions. Whether we're fearful, angry, happy, or hopeful, we see things differently and accept the same message differently depending on what emotional state we might be in at the time.

Your job is to identify both the current emotional state your audience is likely to be in and the target emotional state you want to lead them to. Then build your presentation in a way that moves your audience from their current state (e.g., fear) to the target state (e.g., confidence or optimism).

How do you apply the Pathos principle?

Before diving into the meat of your presentation, ask questions to take the temperature of the room.

For example, you might say, “I'm curious. How do you guys think or feel about the current state of your equipment [or whatever it is that you're talking about]?”

The customer might respond with, “We've been experiencing a lot of service issues right now, and it's costing us a lot more money to run and to keep it working. When there’s downtime, that can cost us a lot. You know, if one machine is down, that can cost $10,000 a day.”

BOOM! You now have a clearer idea of what your customer is feeling about their current situation. They're FRUSTRATED!

Now work that insight into your demo by, first, connecting with what they are feeling right now—by acknowledging their frustration. Then tell your product story in a way that demonstrates how the key benefits of your solution can help your customers shift from frustration to a feeling of hope and inspiration where they’re ready to take the next step.

#3. Logos.

This element pertains to the logical consistency of your presentation.

After all, you can establish your credibility and make a powerful emotional connection with the audience. But if your proposal doesn’t make sense, you’ll lose all that momentum—and the sale. 

Organize your demo into a story format that’s logically consistent by keeping these points in mind:

  • Cast the prospect into the role of the hero in your story.

  • What are their most pressing frustrations, concerns, or challenges that your product can help the prospect overcome? Tap into that pain—so that they feel the distress of the status quo if they don't take action to change their circumstance.

  • Then walk them through your demo, taking them on a "journey" where they can envision, with concrete examples, how they would use your product to overcome their challenges and fulfill their aspirations.

  • By the end of your story (demo), you've brought the prospect to the point—both mentally and emotionally—where they want to know..."Okay. How and when can I get this?"

The objective is to construct the story arc of your product demo in a way that's clear, concise, and compelling for your customers to “get it” … so that they’ll be more inclined to buy it.

Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, an Orlando, Fla.-based consulting firm that helps companies use storytelling techniques to unlock sales growth.

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