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In today’s competitive landscape for digital products, you’ll want to empower your sales and marketing teams with as much tactile materials as possible so that they are able to put your product in front of customers as easily as possible. You’ll also want to enable your customers to learn the value of your product to make it easier for them to decide on your solution.

You are probably planning on or already developing your collection of product demos. In order for the demo experiences to be worth your effort, consider what goes into creating one.

1. Story

When planning a product demo experience, one of the first things to consider is your product story. Memorable stories tend to have a satisfying arc about resolving conflicts in a well-defined context. For your product demo, you would want to set the stage clearly to help your customer manage their expectations.

Different from regular stories, your customer is a leading character in the product story. What that means is that you have an opportunity to include character development in your storyline. We care about aspirational characters because they overcome challenges and become who they want to be eventually. In your product story, make sure you define the “challenge” or “problem” clearly, and invite your customer to solve that using your product. That way, your customer gets to  be their own hero.

With a well-defined storyline and character development, it is easier for your customer to visualize and understand the value of your product.

2. Format

There are multiple ways to build a product demo.

One of the most obvious ways is to show your product and have your customer interact with it directly. This, with a sense of authenticity, helps your customer see for themself how your product solves their problem. However, as mentioned before, this format depends on a number of variables such as internet, database, server connection and being able to deliver on-demand results. This is risky for large-scale complex digital products because these factors, should they malfunction, could make your product look unreliable.

Screen recording is another effective way to demo your product. Unlike interacting directly with your product, this approach allows you to showcase your product’s features and capabilities in a safer environment where the variables are limited. Since it’s not real-time, you will have plenty of room to polish your product storylines and will also have “do-overs” if anything goes wrong. As for your customer, granted that they are not as involved in the story per se, they will be able to keep the recording for reference.

For new product concepts, or new features that are still in development, you might want to consider creating a custom demo experience. You are not bound by the risk factors in real-time demos nor rigidity of screen recordings. Since these types of product demos are developed specifically for the purpose of marketing and sales, they can be self-contained and provide a self-service experience tailored to your customer. If you develop different “demo modules”, you can even present different experiences to your customer based on their needs.

3. Customer insight

Regardless of the types of product demo experiences, one important aspect of the sales and marketing efforts is getting insights to inform your next steps. How do they react to the demo? What has the customer shared with you before, during, and after the demo? Do they have any questions or concerns? Are they looking for technical details or more information for any part of your product?

Successful sales and marketing teams tend to have an effective system of capturing such information and are able to turn it into actionable plans to improve their sales and marketing efforts, as well as the product. These teams also tend to be better at sharing knowledge internally. Even when a different sales rep is talking to a customer, they have all the information needed to help the customer. However, if this system depends largely on specific team members’ way of work, it could become another risk factor for your product.

As the product owner, it is probably safer to have a system to retain the customer insight as you add to it.

4. Communication

Does your customer have a way to talk to you directly about your product? Will your sales and marketing team be able to engage your customer in a meaningful way? Does that interaction  make a stronger case for your product? Yes, there is emailing, voice calls, video calls, texting, and many other channels of communication. But are these channels easy enough for your teams to use for product related customer engagement?

According to Gartner, customers spend just 5% of the buying journey interacting with any given seller. What that means is that it is paramount to keep your communication channels open for the 5% of interaction you do get with a customer to make it easier for them to decide on your product. You will also want to keep the communication clear, to the point, and cohesive among your team members, because while you are addressing customer acquisition, you might not have realized that the effort of customer retention has begun too.

Seeing is believing; that is still tried and true. Crafting a product demo is no easy task, but with the right tools, you might be able to help your teams and your customer jump less hurdles to get to the finish line.
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