May 25, 2023

What is a Sales Demonstration? (Steps, Tips & Best Practices for 2023)

A sales demonstration, or a sales demo, is a presentation given by a salesperson to showcase how a product works and its key features and benefits to prospective customers. Sales demos are essential to the sales process, especially for complex products with many different components or functions. While sales demos are traditionally done in person, they can now be given virtually via video conferencing.

Done correctly, a sales demonstration can quickly turn a skeptical prospect into an eager buyer by visually and tangibly showing how a solution meets their needs. However, effective demoing requires proper planning, practice, and presentation skills. This article will discuss planning and delivering sales demos that win prospects and close deals.

The Purpose of Sales Demos and When to Use Them

The main purpose of a sales demonstration is to eliminate doubts and objections that prospects may have about a product by showing them how it works and the tangible benefits they’ll gain from using it. A sales demo should:

Explain complex features.

If prospects don’t fully understand your product’s capabilities, they may not see the value it can provide. A demo visualizes and highlights important features that solve their pains or needs.

Prove claims.

Your sales demo puts your claims and promises “to the test” by showing how the product delivers on what you said it would do. This builds trust and credibility.

Motivate action.

When prospects see how your solution works and how it could improve their situation, they become motivated to buy. An effective demo stirs their emotions and sparks a desire to move forward.

Shorten the sales cycle.

You can avoid multiple follow-up questions and speed up the buying process by addressing objections upfront through a demo. Demoing your product early in the sales process is recommended.

Sales demos are especially useful for:

Complex products: Software, technology solutions, machinery, medical devices, etc., with many different parts and functions.

High-ticket items: Products above $5,000 where buyers want to reduce risk as much as possible before making a large purchase.

Products with an “experience” factor: Anything prospects must “try-out” or see in action to fully understand and appreciate. Examples include vehicles, furniture, and appliances.

In summary, sales demos prove that your claims are backed by reality and help prospects visualize the benefits they’ll gain from using your solution, which motivates them to move forward with a purchase.

How to Prepare and Plan an Effective Sales Demo

Proper preparation is key to a successful sales demonstration. Plan your demo by following these steps:

  1. Understand your prospect’s goals and challenges. Research your prospect thoroughly and discover what pains they are trying to solve, key metrics they want to improve, and objections they may have. Tailor your demo specifically to their situation.
  2. Outline your demo’s structure and talking points. Create a structured framework with an introduction, product overview, feature highlights, and closing summary. Write down key points you want to cover for each part. Consider creating a separate demo for prospects at different stages.
  3. Practice your demo multiple times. Practice aloud and time yourself to ensure you fit within the allotted time. Record yourself to identify any awkward pauses, “ums,” and “ahs,” or other areas for improvement. Practice with a colleague for feedback.
  4. Select the demo environment. Choose a location where the product functions properly, and your prospect will be comfortable. Test your video conferencing setup and screen sharing in advance for remote demos.
  5. Gather all necessary materials. Have manuals, brochures, sample reports, and other physical materials your prospect may want. For technology demos, ensure all software and demo credentials are ready.
  6. Anticipate challenges or objections. Consider your prospect’s potential concerns and develop responses that redirect them to the benefits. Avoid becoming defensive.
  7. Involve the decision maker. Invite all key stakeholders involved in the purchase to attend the demo in person or remotely. Having buy-in from all decision-makers early on smooths the buying process.

The more preparation you do for your sales demo, the more smoothly it will go and the better impression you’ll make on your prospect. Follow these steps to plan effectively before showing off your product.

Important Dos and Don’ts During Your Demo Presentation


Focus on benefits, not features.

Demonstrate how your product will benefit the prospect and their organization by solving key challenges, saving time/money, boosting productivity, etc.

Connect features to benefits.

Mention specific features and functions, then immediately tie them back to how that helps your prospect achieve their goals.

Be enthusiastic.

Show passion and confidence in your product to create excitement and motivate your prospect. Stay positive even when facing objections.

Involve your prospect.

Ask questions, get their input, and have them participate when possible to keep them engaged.

Handle objections.

Address objections quickly and directly with prepared responses that return to the benefits.

Keep it brief and on track.

Only demo the most important and relevant features. Avoid getting sidetracked to keep within time limits.

End strong.

Close your demo by summarizing the key benefits and how your product can help them achieve their vision.


Overwhelm with features.

Focus more on highlighting 3-5 must-have features, not every feature.

Talk too much.

Less talking and more showing/doing are best. Ask your prospect to perform tasks themselves when possible.

Use jargon.

Explain technical terms in plain language your prospect can understand.

Ramble or fill the silence.

Keep the pace brisk and move from point to point methodically. Only pause briefly between sections.

Ignore objections.

Address objections as they arise, even if you need to “park” them to return to later.

End abruptly.

Thank your prospect, recap key benefits, and transition smoothly into the next steps, like a trial, quote, or proposal.

In summary, focus your demo presentation on benefits over features, involve and engage your prospect throughout, address objections directly, and end strongly by summarizing value and next steps. Avoid information overload, jargon, rambling, or ignoring objections. Follow these important dos and don’ts to captivate your prospect during your sales demo.

Tools and Techniques to Make Your Demos More Compelling

Aside from proper preparation, there are also specific tools and techniques you can employ to make your sales demos as persuasive and impactful as possible:

Visual aids: Use charts, graphs, images, and videos to showcase your product in action and highlight data points to support your claims. Visuals help create lasting impressions and memories in your prospect’s mind.

Live product demonstrations: Show your actual product or solution through a hands-on demo whenever feasible. Having your prospect interact directly with the product keeps them engaged and motivated.

Success stories: Share concrete examples of how your product has helped similar customers achieve specific results. Hearing what other clients have accomplished with your solution builds confidence in your prospect.

Testimonials: Include positive quotes and reviews from existing satisfied customers to prove that your product delivers on its promises. Testimonials from trusted sources carry significant weight.

Real data: Present actual metrics, figures, and statistics on the impact or performance of your product to prove claims concretely. Hard data is very persuasive and motivating for data-driven buyers.

Models and prototypes: Use physical, working models and prototypes to give your prospect an authentic preview of your product’s use. It brings your solution to “life.”

Role-playing: Ask your prospect to assume the role of an end user performing tasks while you guide them through the process. This active participation solidifies learning and stays with your prospect longer.

Repeating information: Rephrase and reiterate the 3 to 5 most important benefits multiple times throughout your demo in different ways. Repetition drives points home and helps your prospect recall key takeaways.

Incorporating these techniques into your sales demos - visual aids, actual demonstrations, real data, repetition - will make your presentations far more believable, educational, and action-inspiring for your prospects. Test different options to find the right mix for your product and audience.

Best Practices for Virtual Versus In-Person Sales Demos

With more sales demos moving online due to the pandemic, it’s important to understand the nuances of conducting effective virtual versus in-person demos.

For virtual demos:

Test your setup in advance.

Ensure your microphone, camera, screen sharing, and internet connection work properly before your demo starts.

Be conscious of your virtual “stage presence.”

Look into the camera when speaking to create more personal engagement. Smile and use gestures to connect.

Utilize the chat function.

Direct certain questions or requests to specific participants in the chat to involve them in the demo.

Over-explain everything you’re doing.

Verbally narrate each step and action you take onscreen as you demonstrate features.

Supplement with video and images.

Use pre-recorded product demo videos and images to illustrate complex features your prospect cannot see live.

For in-person demos:

Greet your prospect warmly.

A friendly handshake, smile, and brief small talk can set a positive tone before beginning.

Move around the room.

Standing up while demonstrating and interacting with your product keeps the energy high.

Bring multiple units.

Having multiple sample units lets your prospect try out features themselves simultaneously.

Ask for participation.

Invite your prospect to perform tasks themselves as much as possible for a truly immersive experience.

Provide takeaway materials.

Give your prospect a brochure, guidebook, sample report, etc., to reference after the demo.

Follow up quickly.

Confirm the next steps verbally before they leave and follow up with a personalized thank you email the same day.

In short, while virtual demos require more narrative descriptions and visual aids, in-person demos allow a hands-on experience through participation and interaction with multiple product units. Ideally, strive for a blend of the two by:

  • Showing alongside telling as you narrate
  • Providing supplemental instructional videos and images
  • Allowing space for your prospect to try things out themselves
  • Ending strongly with a clear recap and next steps

Following these best practices for virtual versus in-person sales demos will ensure your prospects leave fully informed, motivated, and ready to move your opportunity forward.

Here are some reasons why the Folio product demo tool could be a good choice:

Hands-on interactivity: Folio allows users to interact directly with the product demo, which gives them an immersive experience that other static demos lack. This helps users better understand how your product works in practice.

Customizability: Folio demos can be customized to showcase specific features and workflows relevant to users’ needs. This focused approach helps users see your product’s value to their use case.

Personalization: Folio demos can be personalized with a user’s data, further enhancing interactivity and relevance. When users see their information in the demo, it creates a more tangible experience.

Self-paced learning: Folio demos are interactive tutorials that users can use at their own pace. This self-paced approach allows users to go deeper into certain aspects of the demo based on their specific interests.

Accessibility: Folio demos can be accessed and used anywhere due to their web-based nature. This makes them a convenient tool for users to learn about your product on their own time and terms.

Insight gathering: Folio demos can integrate feedback mechanisms to collect information from users about what features they like, what is confusing, and what is missing. This insight can help shape your product roadmap.

In summary, Folio’s interactive, customizable, and self-paced product demos can provide users with an in-depth and genuinely useful experience for understanding your product’s value and functionality while providing actionable insight to help guide your product development.


In summary, sales demonstrations - whether virtual or in-person - are an indispensable part of selling complex products that benefit from a visual presentation. With proper planning, compelling visual aids, and active participation from prospects, sales demos can turn doubt into desire by proving your claims, motivating action, and shortening the sales cycle.

The key to an effective sales demo is:

Thorough preparation: Understand your prospects’ goals, outline your talking points, and practice your demo multiple times. Ensure any necessary materials and product access are ready.

Focus on benefits, not features: Highlight how your solution will help prospects achieve their objectives, save time/money and boost productivity. Connect features to these tangible benefits.

Engagement and interaction: Involve prospects as much as possible by asking questions, inviting them to perform tasks, and directly addressing any objections.

Visual aids and repetition: Use charts, graphs, videos, models, and repetition of the 3-5 most crucial benefits to make your demo’s message stick.

By following these best practices, you can give sales demonstrations that wow prospects, shorten sales cycles, and close more deals. The right demo at the right time can transform a skeptic into an eager buyer - so plan, practice, and present your demo with confidence and passion for your product.

Cover Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash.

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