How to Deliver Exceptional Sales Demos (With Steps and Tips)

Chayanika Sen
min read
July 21, 2023

Recently we asked our community of B2B businesses how important they think sales demos are in converting potential customers to paying customers. 97% agreed that a sales demo is essential.

A poll showing how sales demos are effective in converting prospects to paid customers. The poll is divided into 93% of people agreeing to the statement.

But how do you create a great sales demo and what kind of approach should you take with demos to ensure your prospects are engaged throughout the buyer journey and later convert?

We looked at sales managers and sales engineers for answers, and this is what we found! But more on this later (we like to save the best for the last), first, let's understand what a sales product demonstration is and why you need one in the first place.

What is a Sales Demo?

A sales demo is the showcasing of a product by an account executive or a pre-sales specialist to prospects in order to help them understand whether the product is best fit to solve their particular problems. 

Pre-call AEs usually research about the prospects, their problems, pain points, and latest industry trends to help the prospect and to form relationships with them. 

It's delivered via face-to-face, video, or on-call using online meeting tools. The goal of a demo is to showcase the product's value and convert prospects into paying customers.

Other benefits include:

  • A demo gives the prospect a first-hand experience in exploring the product that no case studies or brochures can do.
  • As prospects get to explore the product themselves and not spend time on the back and forth between sales reps, sending interactive demos to your prospects can shorten the sales cycle.
  • Improves buyer experience. 

What Makes a Sales Demo Effective?

How to make a sales demo effective

Feature dumps that stretch over 30 minutes will definitely make your prospects yawn. Sad part is that most demos, albeit unintentionally, are long and explain top features. So what makes a demo effective or out of the ordinary? One that makes prospects converse with you. 

“Actual demo is not just about showcasing your product or service; it is about building a relationship and addressing the unique needs of each prospect. By focusing on preparation, customization, and engagement, you can create a compelling sales demo that effectively communicates the value of your offering and increases your chances of closing deals.” —Bill Ortiz, B2B-SaaS Sales Development Representative, Mailshake

Here's how you can make a demo that is effective, respects the prospect's time, and helps prospects solve their pain points. Five common elements found in awesome sales demos:

1. Give Your Demo a Story

Storytelling is awesome. Period. As witnessed across history. We consume and retain information much better when it’s in the format of stories. So use a storytelling format to present your demo.  

An infographic of how storytelling affects the brain from a scientific perspective.

Here’s how to do that. 

Think of the prospect as the hero of the story who’s having a problem. Acknowledge their problem with empathy. Share stories of other customers who had a similar problem to explain that they’re not alone.

Begin your demo with a strong emotional hook. For example, you might say, “Have you ever got stuck for a server downtime and thought there might be a way out of it?” You’ll see most of the time, the prospect nods in agreement.

Now plug in your product that can solve the problem of the hero. Highlight the specific product features that can solve the problem instead of talking about every other click and button of the tool. Take the help of case studies and customer testimonials to validate your claim. 

For example, you may say, “When we implemented this solution for one of our clients, it helped them save $10000 immediately.” Take the prospect on a journey where they discover a solution for their problem. 

Finally, end your demo with a strong CTA to help the prospect progress to the next demo. For example, you can share the link to the pricing page. 

2. Focus on Them, not You

Best sales demos are simple to comprehend and do not overwhelm your prospect. Remember sales demos shouldnt be a 45-minute snooze-fest. Break down 1 or 2 workflows that the prospect is mostly probably going to follow if they get the product, and show just that. 

Often sales reps get too engrossed in explaining the features of the product. Remember, your prospect doesn't care about your product or how many features it has. What they care about most is how their pain points can be solved. 

As  Klue's AE, Qayyam Noorani says, “When showing the relevant parts of a solution, don’t describe the feature but explain the value the prospects will get from it. Talk about: what problem does it solve? How does it relate to the prospect’s pain points? ‘Come into the call, spend some time validating the prospect’s challenges, goals, timelines, and then show them exactly what they need to see. No more, no less. And you’ll have a successful meeting.’”

3. Personalize the Demo for Different Decision Makers

The B2B buying decision is complex and involves a group of stakeholders. Gartner reports that complex B2B solutions include six to ten decision makers who already have their own opinion and information gathered independently. So craft a flexible and customized sales demo that addresses each of their pain points and requirements.Your demo should be tailored depending on:

  • Who will be using the product?
  • What are the pain points specific to the persona using the product?
  • Have the prospects tried using similar products before?
  • What were the challenges?
  • Who all are involved in the internal buying teams?

4. End With a Clear CTA

The demo stage is when prospects can leave you hanging. Right after it, if you don't clearly outline next steps and take charge of the conversation, you can lose your prospects to their more pressing tasks. You have to develop the urgency in them to pick up and start using the tool. To do that, end your demo with clear next steps, like encouraging them to start free trial, or asking them to check out demos for other use cases, or directing them to the sign up link.

Recommended: How to select interactive product demo software

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Delivering a Sales Demo

An infographic representing the different steps required to deliver a solid sales demo.

How do you create a demo that fully engages the prospect? How do you get them to keep asking questions about the product and interacting with you? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Step 1: Prep for the Demo

Sales demos created with a 'one size fits all' mindset usually don't do well because it doesn’t always meet the requirement of the ideal buyer profiles. So, you need to research the prospect properly before creating your demo pitch deck. Get on a discovery call to understand their pain points. Once you get to know your prospect, decide how you want to run the demo. Is it going to be a quick 20 mins, are there materials you’d like to share before the demo? Prepare the structure of the demo accordingly. 

Next, set up the prospects' expectations by sharing with them the sales demo agenda and if there's anything more they’d like to be addressed.

Step 2: Schedule the Demo

Schedule the date and time for your demo. Make scheduling as easy as possible to avoid any no-shows. Try to schedule the demo between the working days and ask for a 30-45 minutes slot. Identify the people who are on the decision-making committee and ensure to invite them all. Send out email reminders with personalized messages to minimize the chance of no-shows. 

Step 3: Structure it Well

Plan your demo well. Start with a typical 30-minute demo agenda and what the prospect can expect during the demo. Demos that are stretched out may get super boring, having a script will help you stick to a time frame.  Paint the big picture for everyone to get the context. It will also help you control the narrative, highlight the challenges, and showcase the product features that will solve the challenges. 

Pro Tip: Remember, different prospects have different challenges, so be mindful of the features you want to showcase.

Step 4: Keep the Prospect Engaged

The key to keeping the prospect engaged is building good rapport from the get-go, asking open-ended questions, and putting the focus on their needs. 

An engaging sales demo helps to keep the prospect engaged and hooked till the end. It helps to build rapport and instill trust. So speak their language and avoid using too much jargon and industry acronyms. Keeping the whole process conversational is another great way to keep the prospect engaged throughout.

Pro Tip: Keep control of the cursor movement, as it can distract the prospect when positioned incorrectly. Move the mouse in a manner that helps the prospect to focus better. 

Step 5: Be Prepared for the Unpredictable

No matter how well prepared you are for your sales demo, you can't control unpredictable scenarios like an unknown bug in the application showing up in between the demo or the application just stopping working altogether or you just ended up revealing some sensitive data. So be prepared for such unforeseen moments. Staying calm and confident will help you to navigate through the situation better.

Pro Tip: Using an interactive product demo is a great idea to eliminate the chances of application errors halting your demo. It also lets you blur portions of your demo in case you accidentally revealed some sensitive information.

7 Expert Tips to Deliver Exceptional Sales Demos

Tips to deliver exceptional sales demos from experts

So now that we know how to create a sales demo, let’s understand how you can make it exceptional. Here are top tips shared by top sales pros:

1. Practice Active Listening Skill

We can't stress enough on developing active listening skills, especially when you’re running a sales demo. You should know how to pick up cues from listening to what they’re saying, their tone of voice, and pace in speech.   

“The most basic yet often overlooked hack for running a good demo is being a good listener. Ask questions to your prospects that’s specific to them and listen carefully to what they have to say. Remember the key is to keep them engaged throughout the demo that makes sense to them and is relevant to their requirement. No one wants to know what each button on your platform does” —-- Anirudh Ram, Account Executive, Outplay

2. Set up the Expectations

Before you start your sales demo, it’s a great idea to share the agenda slide of the meeting with your prospects. This way, they’ll be well-prepared and know what to expect during the call. Before you start the demo, brief the prospects on what they’re going to experience and how the whole session will be conducted.

“Defining the purpose before the call, perhaps sending the entire demo agenda before the demo led to better outcome of the demo. Talk about the plan at the beginning of the call, go through the steps and see if there is a need to add anything else.” – Himanshu Choudhary, Account Director, inFeedo

3. End With a CTA

Even after the demo is over, your job is not over yet. You need to set the next step to take the process forward.

“Setting the right cadence for next steps led me to build better rapport with the champion. 40% more deals moved to later stages and closure, while practicing this.” Himanshu Choudhary, Account Director at inFeedo added.

4. Speak Their Language

Don't confuse your prospects with too many technical details and jargon unless you’re talking to CTOs. As a sales rep it’s super important to speak to your prospect in a language that they understand and can relate to.

“Clients don't prefer demos in technical language unless they are CTOs so as a sales rep you need to talk potential users' language. Customize your demos depending upon the persona you are giving the demo to and focus on the features that would be relevant for them.” —- Gaurav Jain, BDR at Salesforce

5. Do Your Homework

You can’t just turn up for a sales demo without doing homework.So, spend time understanding the ICP, their pain points, and how your product will solve their problem. Focus on the key features that will be useful for them rather than discussing all the product features.

“The most important thing is to understand your ICP. Familiarize yourself with the pain points and needs of your target audience. This knowledge will enable you to tailor your demo effectively.” —Bill Ortiz, B2B-SaaS Sales Development Representative, Mailshake

6. Customize Customize Customize

If you need one winning formula with your sales demo, it would be to tailor your demo according to the needs of the ICP. Show them only the features that will solve their pain points.

“A one-size-fits-all approach rarely succeeds in sales demos. Tailor your presentation to each prospect by highlighting the aspects that align with their specific needs and challenges. This customization demonstrates that you understand their business and have a solution designed to address their pain points.” —-Bill Ortiz, B2B-SaaS Sales Development Representative, Mailshake

7. Engage Your Audience

Keep your sales demo interactive. A conversational sales demo always helps to uphold the attention of the prospect until the end. Bring in storytelling, keep it conversational, and simple to keep the audience hooked.

“ Engaging your audience throughout the sales demo is crucial to keep their attention and drive their interest. Avoid a monotonous, one-sided presentation and instead encourage interactivity.” — Bill Ortiz, B2B-SaaS Sales Development Representative, Mailshake

What to Do After a Sales Demo

Imagine, you have just returned home after completing a stellar sales demo. You had a killer demo script and everything went as per the plan. You relax with your favorite beverage, thinking, “Now it’s time to close the deal.”

But there’s nothing but crickets on the other side.

In such moments and in general, here’s what you have to do:

Follow up with demo leave-behinds using Storylane

Follow up after wrapping up the demo by summarizing the 'aha' moments, and outlining the next steps. 

To make your follow-ups more valuable, embed interactive product demos that highlight workflows that the prospect liked or was interested in.  Here are 3 reasons demo leave-behinds are a gamechanger for account executives: 

1. If there are multiple stakeholders involved, which is the case in most B2B SaaS purchases, create different demo leave-behinds that cater to the pain points of each stakeholder in the buying process--the user, the decision maker, and/or the manager. This will also be useful for your champions to get buy-in from senior leadership.

2. You can personalize the demo for each prospect within 15-30 mins. 

3. Understand your prospect's intent much better. When you add demo leave-behinds, you can track how prospects interacted with your demo. Storylane offers a cool analytics feature that lets you do just that. 


  1. What is the difference between a sales demo and an actual product demonstration?

 The main difference between a sales demo and a product demo is that the demos are targeted at different audiences. Sales demos are shown to prospective buyers with the intent to sell, while a product demo is shown to current customers with the intent to explain how the product works.

  1. What are the different types of successful sales demos?

These are the six types of sales demo. These include:

  • Vision demo
  • Micro demo
  • Technical demo
  • FAQ demo
  • Closing demo
  • Qualifying and discovery demo
  1. Why do we need sales demos?

Sales demos give a first hand experience to prospective buyers about how the product can solve their biggest pain points.

  1. What tools do you need to deliver a sales demo?

Tools that you will need to create sales demo are:

  • Cloud-based design tool for creating prototypes
  • Cloud-based diagramming tool to help explain complex concepts easily
  • Interactive demo platforms like Storylane that lets you create interactive guides easily
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