Elements of a Great Solution Demo

By: Steve Robins

The Solution Demo Series, Part III

This is the third part of the Solution Demo Series.  Check back for additional posts (see end of post for complete list).  Also, be sure to check out the last post, Strategizing The Solution Demo.

Now that you understand your audience, the business problem being addressed, and the goals of you and your audience, you can begin to build and deliver the actual demo. Following are several tips, based on my own experience and that of experts like Peter Cohan, that will help you to develop and deliver great demos.

Great solution demos draw the audience in immediately with relevant stories focused on their unique business challenges and requirements.  These demos aren’t loaded with extraneous features.  The audience leaves with a clear understanding of the solution’s ability to meet their unique needs.

  • Frame the demo – show the value up front. WebInno22 showed that the demo alone is never enough.  You also need to frame the demo, helping your audience to understand how your solution solves their problems and why it matters to them.  Do what works: frame the demo with a short verbal explanation or use more detailed slides, depending on how much time you have.
  • Tell a story. Audiences enjoy easy-to-follow stories. Set up the scenario, the key users, their challenges and needs, and how the solution will help each of them to address their challenges, meet their needs and achieve success.  Continue to tell the story with the demo.
  • Compare Before and After. Identify the organization’s/users’ business challenges before the solution.  Compare those against the benefits achieved after deployment of the solution.  You may also want to quantify those benefits – e.g., “saved 20%,” “shortened processing time by 3 weeks” etc.  Weave in actual case studies if they’re relevant.
  • Tailor it. Whenever you can, you should always tailor the demo to your audience.  Develop the demo based on their unique business challenges.  Their industries.  Their departments and business functions.  It’s amazing how little insurance companies care about the latest software used by energy companies.  They want to see demos that speak to their unique needs.
  • Solve the business problem. Design your entire demo to show how your solution and its key features solve the organization’s/user’s business problem, and how the solution improves their business processes.
  • Highlight only the most important features. Zoom in on the features critical to solving the business problem, and leave out the other features.  If the audience wants to see more, give them the opportunity at the end of your demo.  Then drill deeper at that point, or in a later presentation.  Great advice from Peter Cohan.
  • Never hold the sizzle. Even when you tell a story, don’t save the “aha” moment for the end of the demo.  Rather, put it up front to grab the audience’s attention and keep them interested, says Peter Cohan.  Better to grab them early than to hold them in suspense.
  • Hold questions to the end. It’s amazing how many questions come up in the first 2 minutes that are answered later in the demo.  Hold questions until the demo is complete.
  • Reframe. Once you’re done, go back and reframe the demo and give the audience key takeaways and value propositions so they remember your most important messages.

Now you know what it takes to develop a great demo.  So, what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Did I leave anything out?  Let me know – please post your comments below!

Check back in coming days for additional posts:

Solution Demo Series

Part I: Getting Started with Solution Demos.
Part II: Strategizing the Solution Demo. Understand your audience and determine goals before you develop the solution demo.
Part III: Elements of a Great Solution Demo. Build and deliver a great demo that your audience will value.
Part IV: Solution Demo Resources. Links to selected demo resources – articles and demo companies.
Part V: Solution Demo Checklist. Answer these strategic questions and you’ll be ready to develop a great solution demo.


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Filed under Demos, Messaging, Solution Marketing, Solutions

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