Demonstrating product features and benefits is a key skill for successful product management. Often, the Product Manager will conduct the demo, while at other times, the Product Manager will define demos for others to carry out. Demos are likely required in the early stages of the new product process to gain support for the new concept. During development and testing, demos can be used to showcase recent work and get feedback, either from internal stakeholders or customers. Demos to potential and existing customers are a critical part of the sales process for winning new business and are also often an integral part of tradeshows and other events featuring the product. The following is a general five-step process for planning compelling product demos.
- Define the demo goal. Consider the purpose of the demo. Is it to move a “prospect” to the next stage of the sales funnel by persuading them of the key benefits of the product? Or is it to gain feedback on a proposed feature during development?
- Consider the audience. Think about the audience’s needs. What needs, wants, or goals do they have that the product can help achieve? Engage directly with the audience or with the demo organizer to confirm your understanding of the audience’s needs before defining the optimal demo.
- Understand key constraints. Enquire about and confirm all potential constraints for the demo. These include how much time is allocated for the demo, the characteristics of the location (is the demo to happen in a small office space or a large, noisy tradeshow floor?), and the size of the audience.
- Define the demo. Given your agenda for the demo (“your goal”) and the audience’s agenda (“their goal”), define the best demo that will accomplish both. Items to consider when defining the demo include:
- An “A/B” demo, where you show the audience today’s solution (“A”) and then contrast that with the new product (“B”) and show how it is superior, is often very effective.
- Plan to start with the high-level context before driving down into the details.
- Consider localization and cultural sensitivities when doing demos for foreign audiences.
- Consider what could go wrong and how you will respond if something does go awry.
- Plan to end the demo with a call to action in support of the goal for the demo.
- Do a dry run. Do a dry run of the demo and practice it a few times. Ideally, do the dry run in the location where the actual demo will occur using the actual equipment and leave the equipment and room set up. Confirm during the dry run that the demo meets all the constraints, including timing. If possible, record a video of yourself doing the demo to identify areas for improvement.
Read more about demos and other key product management topics in my book, Mastering Product Management: A Step-By-Step Guide, available now in paperback and eBook.