How important is demonstrating the functionality of a given software tool in the sales process?
How important is the timing of the actual product demo?
I would argue that the demo is important, but is not as important as many less skilled sales/pre-sales personnel might have you believe.
Relationship building is paramount. As is a deep understanding of the customer’s current situation/reality. How (if at all) are they solving their current issue(s)? How specifically will your offer differ?
In Demonstrating to Win!: The Indispensible Guide for Demonstrating Software, author Richard Riefstahl discusses the concept of “bridge building” – which means to clearly create and demonstrate what the new environment will look like post implementation.
Ease of use is always a key. And the reason for this is that the prospect knows their current situation. They may or may not like it very much, but at least it is a known entity.
I have seen many a salesperson rush too quickly into a product demo. Many times this is due to poor selling acumen. The salesperson either cannot articulate the overall value proposition or isn’t particularly adept at relationship building – or both.
A demo is important – if done at the correct time in the sales process and after gathering the needed information to convey the most appropriate message(s).
A custom demo is almost always the best. Why? Its more difficult for a Financial sector customer to understand how they will use the software when the demo they have just seen was originally constructed for the Manufacturing industry.