3 Common Demo Mistakes That Will Ruin a Sale

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3 Common Demo Mistakes That Will Ruin a Sale

John Burleson | August 26, 2015

 Sales People

 

Product demonstrations are far from easy to perfect. Scripts are written, people have questions, reps try to “wing it” or improvise, and the entire format goes out the window in a free-for-all. And then you lose a big sale.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of losing a sale to a bad demo, you need to recognize a few of the most common mistakes made by both new and experienced sales teams. Once you do, you can coach your reps and impact their close rate.

 

1. Demo Too Early

 

Imagine you’re sitting at your desk one morning, using your data subscription to build a prospect list. Suddenly, you get a call from a purchasing manager at a local construction firm. They’re in the market for an excavator and found your website from a paid search ad. They want to demo your excavator.

 

This is great news. Now you don’t have to do all this cold calling. “Sure,” you say. “When is the best time for you?”

 

And you’ve made a mistake. Already you’ve failed to evaluate your prospect and understand their needs. You got too excited about a demo falling into your lap, and you immediately said yes to everything your prospect wants.

 

Before you say yes to a demo, you need to thoroughly understand your prospect. Evaluate their pain points and their business, and then earn their trust.

 

Make sure your prospect will be happy with your product.

 

2. Demo Every Feature

 

Now let’s imagine you’re a prospect for your business. You’ve come to meet with a sales rep to see the excavator for the first time. Your rep meets you at the door with a folder and says, “Hi, John. This is my offering, and in the next hour, we’re going to cover every feature of this awesome machine.”

 

I can already see your eyes glossing over.

 

This is another big mistake. At this point, if you are focusing on your equipment’s features, you are missing an opportunity to directly address your prospect’s pain points.

 

Your prospects are interested because your products fit their needs. You have a solution to their pain. There may be one specific feature they find appealing. It may be everything, or it might just be because it’s a particular brand. No matter what appeals to them, you have to address their interest.

 

3. Demo Too Long

 

If you’ve done everything right up to this point, great. But you can’t rest on your laurels yet. You still have time to lose the sale, especially if you take too long to demo your product.

 

One of the worst, and biggest, mistakes sales professionals make is scheduling a demo and spending the entire time talking about themselves. This demo isn’t about you, it’s about your prospect. Prospects need to fully understand how your solution is the right fit for them.

 

This is also the time to make sure your prospect is comfortable and prepared for the next steps. Are they ready to buy? Do they have a purchasing process? Do they need executive approval? Do they need to involve their legal counsel? You need to know an answer to each of these questions.

 

If your prospect isn’t prepared to take the next step, you need to know.

 

Once you’ve given your demo, be sure to allow your prospects to ask questions. Give them time to ask any questions they have, then follow up with close-ended questions to move the process forward a step.

  • Was this helpful?
  • Do you understand what we talked about?
  • What’s the next step?

 

If you get an answer indicating the prospect was engaged and interested throughout their visit, use the opportunity to move the relationship forward. Settle on a follow up meeting to determine the next steps to purchase the equipment.


Top sales professionals don’t have any great secrets. But they do understand things that many overlook. They understand how the sales process looks to their prospects and customers, and they leverage each step of the process to guide people into a sale. By understanding these simple principles and constantly improving upon past performance, you’ll be able to move the sale forward.  

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