There are lots of mistakes that a Sales Engineer can make in a demo, but these, in my opinion, are the worst:
- Show up and throw up:
- Prepare too much
- Fail to dry run
- Get too little sleep
- Skip discovery
- Take too long to show product
This is a common mistake of experienced Sales Engineers. If you have done a lot of demos of your product you may be tempted to just show up at the demo without knowing much about what the prospect is looking for in your product. You may not have been given the chance to do proper discovery (see below). You might just be in too much of a hurry to slam out the demo and get on to more important things. But if you don’t customize your presentation and demo to each prospect then you might as well not do the demo to start with. I have also heard this called the “Stop me when you see something you like” approach to demonstrations and I know Sales Engineers that have made a career of it. You can win deals with this approach, but you will win more if you know exactly what the prospect values and can demonstrate your product’s ability to meet their needs.
Lots of Sales Engineers seem to think that it is impossible to prepare too much for a demo, but I disagree. You can definitely go overboard when it comes to preparation, especially if you either focus too much on one feature/function or try to meet ALL the prospects stated needs. A demonstration should be proof of your applications ability to meet the needs of the prospect. If you try to cover all the requirements outlined in an RFP or demo script rather than focusing on some key items first, you will probably spend way too much time preparing. And if you do an equally mediocre job on all the sections of a demo script you will be judged much more harshly than if you knock it out of the park on several and miss entirely on a couple. Focus your attention to limit the required preparation.
I already have a post on the importance of dry runs, but I am always amazed at how often sales teams skip them. They win demos and you should do them!
This goes along with “prepare too much”. Being well rested and ready to present on demo day is more important than tweaking that last slide or changing the color of that button. Know when to say when and get a full night of sleep before your demo.
Although this is often not under the control of the Sales Engineer, experienced pre-sales people know how to push for discovery. Preparing your presentation based on what you hear from a sales rep, or worse, from your educated guesses based on previous customers, is a mistake. Good discovery reduces the amount of preparation required (see above) AND often results in fewer demos because you show them just the stuff they are interested in (avoiding the “show up and throw up” problem).
This ties in with my post on the 30 second demo. People who come do a demo want to see product. If the sales rep stands up and talks about your company for 1/2 an hour and then you get up and discuss the demo scenarios, requirements, etc.. for another 1/2 hour, then the prospect is left squirming in their seats for an hour. Do yourself a favor and show something, anything, in your product as early in the demo as possible.