Skip to the main content.
Contact Us Online Learning
Contact Us Online Learning

2 min read

The Demo: A Competitive Judged Event!

The Demo: A Competitive Judged Event!



Software demos are necessary if you want to truly bring in a win during the software sales process. Typically, a company’s inquiries will lead the top 2-3 competitors face off for the win. If you find yourself in the top three of the final competition, then you will need to understand the mindset and skills it takes to impress the prospect, who is your event judge.


That’s right! It is important to keep in mind that this competition, The Demo, is a “Judged Event.” And, much like Olympic diving or ice skating, it’s subjectively judged. Like an Olympic athlete, sales reps delivering demos must ensure their delivery can sway the Judges (the client or prospect). Judges are not only looking for technique (best practices) but also pay close attention to mistakes (worst practices). A dash of originality can help, but competitors delivering demos mostly need a flawless performance from beginning to end. Any stumbles, no matter how slight, can result in “deductions” from the judges.


By the time a prospect has agreed to a demo, they have already been enticed to the point that they could be willing to actually buy a solution. The more demerits you have, the better your competition looks. Too low of a score, and all your hard work, preparation and training to get where you are has been squandered. And, unlike the Olympics, you are doubtful to get another chance in four years.


So how can you avoid getting sent packing? Demo training for your selling team is the key. Through knowledge of best practices, repetition, rehearsal and a repertoire of engagement tactics up your sleeve, and most importantly avoiding worst practices, you can earn your spot on the podium — a podium where there is no second or third place.


The “Demo Crime Flies” — Yes, Your Demo Is on Trial!

In the book “Demonstrating to Win!” author Bob Riefstahl (2Win! Founder) refers to the Demo Crime Files. Like ordinary “crimes” demo crimes range in severity. For example a minor crime, the equivalent of misdemeanors, might get you a small slap on the wrist. However enough misdemeanors, and you can get put on “probation” for an account — sidelined while you watch others finish up on your hard work.


Serious demo crimes, the “felonies,” can get your privileges revoked entirely. Just like a felon can’t leave the country, you may be banned from an account entirely.


So what are these most heinous of demo crimes?


  • Blind Leading the Blind — Lack of prep leading to “getting lost” in the software
  • I Love this Part of my Solution — Demonstrating new or flashy features that don’t apply to the client’s issues.
  • So What! — Demonstrating a feature without providing context or a benefit to the viewer.
  • Data Dump — Drumming on and on delivering feature after feature without stopping
  • Teaching vs. Demonstrating — You guessed it! They’re not there to learn the “how” just the “what” and “why.”


So every bad demo crime committed can mean a penalty from judges (your client). Keep your rap sheet clean and the judges impressed by being prepared and avoiding “Demo Crimes,” giving solid demos and practicing before each delivery.


Demo training for your selling team is the best way to stay sharp and light your path to a successful demo. Proven Techniques and avoiding Demo Crimes can make the difference between 1st and 2nd place. Without them you can never truly close with a win.