Local Account Managers on How They Mastered the Product Demo

Janey Zitomer
August 27, 2020

There’s a certain universal feeling of pride that accompanies being able to present your boss with a tool or solution that makes their life easier. At Chicago-based companies dscout and CityBase, account managers approach product demonstrations with this human desire in the back of their minds. 

“At the end of the day, an individual wants to feel they are making a direct impact on their company,” Account Manager Susan Nguyen said. 

And so they promote product characteristics — like stability or security — that can help bridge a gap or address a longstanding need for their prospective clients. 

The catch? 

Sometimes, the customer doesn’t know or can’t articulate exactly what those needs are. Madeline Allen, a senior account manager at CityBase, said in those cases, she looks for cues that might reveal pain points below the surface. Both she and Nguyen dive deeper into their psychology-based approaches to product demos, below. 

 

dscout
dscout

In a recent product demonstration, dscout Account Manager Susan Nguyen didn’t show her potential client all of the qualitative research platform’s offerings. Why? Nguyen knew the prospective customer was working on a strict timeline. Instead, she focused on providing a tailored solution to their problem. This kind of thinking allows Nguyen and her team to stay nimble and appeal to a broad user base. 

 

How do you prepare ahead for a product demo with a prospective customer?

I do my research. I typically give product demos to prospective customers who both have exposure to dscout and those who might not. It is my responsibility to get new users onto the platform within my existing book of business. The customer will typically share what team they are on, so I’ll start there. 

First, I want to understand what that team is working on, what kind of impact they are making and what they are planning for the future. Next, I will focus on the company as a whole. What are their strategic goals? 

At the end of the day, an individual wants to feel they are making a direct impact on their company. I want to be able to align how our tools would be able to connect their team’s direction with the company’s strategic goals. By creating that story, I am able to show how our product can be valuable for the prospective customer. 

Practice your demo out loud.’’ 

The goal of a product demo is to prove to a potential customer that your product can solve a particular problem for them. How do you go about achieving this goal? 

I tailor each demo to the specific prospect. Prior to the call, I send an email asking if there is something specific I can address during the call. Once the call takes place, it’s important to let the prospective customer have the floor. The key to a great product demo is asking the right open-ended questions to go beyond the surface-level problem and into the root cause. 

During the demo, I will reference the email they sent or something they said to illustrate how our tool is the right fit. Recently, I had a prospective customer who had a deliverable she needed to share out to stakeholders that week. I tailored my demo on a specific product we have built for speed and scalability. 

In a typical demo, I would show all of our product offerings. But in this case, I knew it was not relevant to her. Due to the tight timeline, we had to work fast to win this project. I gave her a demo of the platform, then I went directly into what next steps needed to take place in order for us to be successful. By laying out a clear plan of action, she was confident our platform was going to be the right choice. 

 

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to another salesperson who’s looking to master the product demo? 

Practice your demo out loud. By practicing out loud, you are able to hear how your story flows to determine what changes need to be made. As you continue to practice your demo, you become more confident on the tool. This will successively show clients that you are masters of your product, and in turn, illustrate its ease of use.

 

CityBase
CityBase

As a Senior Account Manager for a company that works closely with the public sector, Madeline Allen is able to bring a macro perspective to product demonstrations that clients might not otherwise get. The CityBase team member said she prioritizes deeply listening to the prospect to help her figure out what specific information might be most useful for them to know. 

 

How do you prepare ahead for a product demo with a prospective customer? 

I understand the prospect’s expectations and needs by scheduling a pre-demo 5-10 minute call to agree on an agenda and goal of the meeting. This saves everyone time by setting expectations. I research their current vendor, budget and any other interesting points that display our knowledge about them and their needs. I also equip my team internally with my research and make sure each person on the call understands the prospect, goal of the meeting and their role on the call. 

A successful demo should be scripted in such a way that it goes beyond just showing the product.’’  

The goal of a product demo is to prove to a potential customer that your product can solve a particular problem for them. How do you go about achieving this goal? 

A successful demo should be scripted in such a way that it goes beyond just showing the product. The demo should feature aspects of the product that solve the prospect’s problems. Use the demo to actively speak to these pain points throughout.

Be prepared to speak to their not-so-obvious needs and pain points as well. Stick to the agreed-upon agenda, but don’t be afraid to spend more time on areas or issues that come up on the call.

At CityBase, we exclusively work with public sector clients. Our experience solving challenges for local governments across the U.S. makes us a valuable thought partner to other cities and counties, since we bring that macro perspective. For example, I recently leveraged our experience with another client in a CityBase demo in order to address very specific pain points. I spoke to the issues at hand but also revealed other solution-based functionality that alleviates issues down the road they were initially not aware of. This level of preparation and thoughtfulness for the future sealed the deal for a long-term, innovative partnership. 

 

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to another salesperson who’s looking to master the product demo?

It’s not usually about the demo as much as it’s about listening to the prospect, understanding the visible and invisible pain points and creating excitement and urgency around the idea of working together to make their job easier. 

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