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How to Conduct a Product Demonstration Planning out a product demo, from knowing your product to zeroing in on the sale

By Ben Casnocha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Standing in front of a crowd and talking intelligently aboutyour product, demonstrating it and then trying to convince youraudience to do whatever it is you want them to do is not an easything. Product demonstrations require knowledge of the intrinsicdetails of your product, strong salesmanship skills and goodpresentation etiquette.

Having done hundreds of product demonstrations, from one-on-onesto groups as large as 20 people, in a variety of settings and witha variety of goals for each meeting, I believe you can benefit frommy experiences. I'm going to outline some ground-level buildingblocks to keep in mind when conducting a product demonstration.

1. Know your product.Unfortunately, many aspiring salespeople focus too much onstylistic presentation aspects of a product demo, and not enough onlearning the product. Conducting a presentation that sizzles iseasy enough; learning the product you're going to be presentingis not. You should feel comfortable with every element in theproduct--what each link does, what every button accomplishes, etc.Coming across as a competent presenter will increase your chancesfor a sale tenfold.

2. Practice. Hmm...this one sounds just a wee bitfamiliar, wouldn't you say? But, as with sports, musicalinstruments and the like, this old adage applies to product demos.Practice your presentation constantly. Run through thedemonstration a half a dozen times per night before it'smastered; go through each screen; press every button. Perhaps writea "demo script" that outlines the process in whichyou're going to do the demo.

3. Prepare. The day of the presentation, arrive at theplace you'll be doing the demo early. Set up your computer andprojector if necessary; make sure all the wiring is set up. Youwouldn't want all your practice to go to waste if youcouldn't find an extension cord the day of the meeting!

4. Start off by re-iterating the goals of the meeting.For example, your goals could be to a) get feedback, b) get acontract and c) get referrals to other possible buyers. Whenyou're ready to dive into the product itself, go slowly,leaving each page on the screen for a few extra seconds to allowenough time for your audience to read all the text. If you'reusing a computer, move the mouse slowly. Talk about the features asyou show them. Pause and ask for questions at each juncture in thepresentation; this also allows you the chance to take a sip ofwater!

5. Afterwards, ask for questions again. If you know theaudience is evaluating other products, you could ask a questionlike "Were you looking for something that you didn'tsee?" or "Did you see anything that looked especiallybeneficial?" You always want to harvest some good feedback.When it seems like the meeting/demo is winding down, you'llwant to close the meeting by saying something like "Thanksagain for your time--we are very interested in working with yourcompany in implementing this product."

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