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10 Tips for a Successful Product Demonstration

Walk into any department store on a given weekend and you’ll see Product Specialists demonstrating and selling products.  Everything from fitness equipment and consumer electronics to kitchen appliances and toys are available for customers to try.  Manufacturers know that the consumer wants to see and test products in a no-pressure environment.   Retail Product Demonstrations can be the key to improved retail sales, enhanced brand awareness, and increased customer satisfaction.

Whether you want to sell more products with engagement selling–or you want to make money as a demonstrator–here are 10 tips for increasing the effectiveness of your in-store demonstration

Actually, all ten tips can be rolled into the first point, but I’ll make it #1 of ten.

The Product Specialist needs to be ready to demonstrate a product.  From appearances (demo area clean and stocked; clothes cleaned and pressed; hair combed and shoes shined) to education (product knowledge is ingrained; the product is operational; the presentation has been practiced).  Do you have a back-up plan if the product fails? Are you ready to handle objections? Are you rested and looking successful and confident?

  • Product Demonstration Tip #1 = Be prepared
    The Product Specialist needs to be ready to demonstrate a product.  From appearances (demo area clean and stocked; clothes cleaned and pressed; hair combed and shoes shined) to education (product knowledge is ingrained; the product is operational; the presentation has been practiced).  Do you have a back-up plan if the product fails? Are you ready to handle objections? Are you rested and looking successful and confident?
  • Product Demonstration Tip #2 = Stand during the demo
    Often – and usually toward the end of a long demonstration day – an in-store demonstrator will want to sit down.  Don’t do it.  Your customer will see this as a sign of disinterest.   As presenter, you’ll appear more in command and in control if you stand.  Sitting implies laziness, disinterest, and tiredness.  It will be easier to hold the customers’ attention when you stand.  And if you have customer brochures to hand out, don’t hand them out until after the demonstration.  It will be hard to hold the customer’s attention while they are reading company information.
  • Product Demonstration Tip #3 = Engage the Customer
    Even if you were given a prepared presentation script, let the customer direct the demonstration.  Turn the demonstration into a conversation instead of a speech.  Ask questions that have meaning and will lead to more questions and discussion.  “Most people have been raving about this feature, is this something you would use on a daily basis?
  • Product Demonstration Tip #4 = Listen to the Customer
    Even if you were given a prepared presentation script, let the customer direct the demonstration.  Turn the demonstration into a conversation instead of a speech.  Ask questions that have meaning and will lead to more questions and discussion.  “Most people have been raving about this feature, is this something you would use on a daily basis?
  • Product Demonstration Tip #5 = Involve the Customer
    Confucius said it best.  “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. “  When it comes to product demonstrations, showing a customer how the machine works isn’t good enough.  For greater results from your demo, have the customers hold the item; have them press the buttons; have them touch, taste and smell the results.  The next time the customer asks, “Can this machine do ____?”, Your response should be, “Here…do it yourself; I’ll walk you through the process.”
  • Product Demonstration Tip #6 = Be honest with the Customer
    ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ may be a common catchphrase in self help seminars, but it won’t work in product demonstrations.  If the customer asks a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t fake it.  Promise the customer that you’ll get back to them with the answer—and don’t forget to do it;  or send them to where the answer can be found.  “You’ll find more information about that on our company’s website at www…..”  If you’re not sure exactly how the product does something, don’t try to work through the problem together with the customer.  If the answer is not easily discovered, the product will seem complex and the demonstrator inadequate.
  • Product Demonstration Tip #7 = Be ready for the Customer’s questions
    Before answering a customer question, repeat the question or ask for clarification if necessary. For example, if the customer asks, “Does this come in red?”, a wise product demonstrator will ask a clarification question such as, “Do you want this in red?” or “Are you saying that no other color will work for your situation?” Customer questions and objections can easily be handled if you’re prepared for them.  Make a list of Frequently Asked Questions– and their proper responses—and practice the correct responses until they roll off your tongue naturally and confidently.  An objection about a product’s price tag, for instance, can be handled naturally and confidently if you prepare an answer in advance.  Prepare an answer for every question and objection you anticipate.
  • Product Demonstration Tip #8 = Demonstrate the greatness vs. Asserting the greatness.
    Here’s a little secret: Your competitor’s website claims that they are the best in the business.  And did you know that their product brochure states that their product is state-of-the-art and best in class?   When demonstrating a product, avoid telling the customer how great the features are.  Show him instead.
  • Product Demonstration Tip #9 = Don’t overwhelm the Customer (Demonstrate—don’t train)
    Here’s novel idea: when you demonstrate a product, just demonstrate the product.  Your job is to demonstrate a product not to train a purchaser on how the product operates.  A fine line, I know, but an important distinction. For example, when you took the car out for a demo ride you got a sense for how it handles, how it feels, how it looks.   It wasn’t until you got the car home that you opened the owners’ manual to learn how to program the radio.  A customer who endures a seemingly endless parade of menu screens, icons, and blinking cursors may lose focus, turn bleary-eyed, and eventually tune out.  You can’t show someone how easy your product is to use by making it look complicated.
  • Product Demonstration Tip #10 = Plan to be spontaneous
    When you add original thoughts, examples, and stories to your demonstration you attract the attention of your customer.  An interesting story may even answer a customer question or objection.   Draw on personal experiences for a spontaneous demonstration or jot down some stories in advance to be dropped into conversation when needed.  “I got a call last week from a customer who bought this same unit last year….”;  “I have this same machine at home and my husband….”

The more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have doing product demonstrations.  And the more fun you have with it—the more your sales will increase.

Author:  D. Wolan