Ep. 40 | Our Secrets to a Successful Sales Demo

Karra Hendrix Rethink Marketing Podcast thumbnail

In this episode of the Rethink Podcast, we chat with Act-On’s Karra Hendrix about her secrets to a successful sales demo.

Karra is a product marketing manager at Act-On.  She has given hundreds, if not more, product demos during her time at Act-On. Among her other duties, she now coaches our sales team on giving successful sales demos. That includes managing demo certifications with all the reps.

What is a sales demo?

Whether you call them a sales demos, or product demos; they usually take place after a prospect has been handed off to sales and an initial discovery call has been made. These are an online demonstration of your solution. Today, online demos have become a core part of the sales process. Because they are online and lack the engagement you may get being face-to-face, it is critical to the business they are meaningful to the prospect.

How to prepare for the demo?

Before the demo happens, however, you need to prepare and that is done via the discovery call, Hendrix said. “You don’t know their business well enough to give a good demo,” she said.

Just a few questions you should find out before the demo include:

  • What are their current challenges?
  • Are they using a competitor?
  • Is this a new initiative?
  • What will be the use cases for your product or service?
  • What can you learn about their industry?
  • And, who will be joining in on the demo, and what is their role?

“Understanding all of those things is critical in your preparation for the demo because that is going to inform how you present, and what you present,” Hendrix said.

In addition to your discovery call, she said, scour the prospect’s website, check out what they are posting on social and learn as much as you can about them, their business, and their business challenge.

How do you start the demo?

Hendrix believes in the advice attributed to Aristotle:

  • Tell them what you will tell them
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you just told them

That way, she said, you are getting validation early on from your audience on the agenda.

From there, she suggests giving your prospect the “oohs and aahs” of your product, specific to their pain points.

Personalize your demo

“Anything you can do to personalize the demo goes a long way to grabbing people’s attention,” Hendrix said.

This could range from adding their logo to your slides to calling out the pain points that were identified in the discovery process. Hendrix said this not only grabs their attention, but also shows that you put in the work.

Additionally, you want to focus your demo to what matters to your prospect. This shouldn’t be a feature dump where you are trying to show off every single aspect of your product or service during the call.

Instead, you should focus on those key benefits that you offer that will solve their problem. By tightening that focus, your prospect will be better able to easily remember why you should be the solution they are seeking.

Keeping them engaged

As mentioned earlier, it can be challenging to keep someone from zoning out or checking their email during an online demo. Hendrix suggests asking as many questions as possible to keep them engaged. These should be value-oriented questions such as:

  • How would this work in your business?
  • If you made this change, what impacts would it have on your business?

Whatever you do, Hendrix said, DO NOT ask “Does this make sense.” You’re only going to get a superficial affirmation.

(And my own advice is never try to LinkedIn with a prospect before the demo, or start the call with “How can I help you.” When that’s happened to me, I have ended the call within seconds.)

What is a successful demo?

A successful demo is one that “ends with a next meeting,” Hendrix said.

Additionally, a successful demo will have kept the prospects engaged throughout. It is more listening than talking; and will show value, including offering reference customer stories that have similar use cases or that had remarkable results.

“It’s not just a feature dump,” Hendrix said. “It should be showing them key examples of a successful implementation and how it solves the key challenges that you learned in the discovery call. … It should and feel more like a conversation than a presentation.”

How do you follow up?

Hendrix suggests you follow up a demo by sending a recording, if you made one, so that it can be shared with your prospect’s team. And get that next meeting scheduled, preferably while you are still on the demo call.

“Keep moving things forward,” Hendrix said. “And keep showing them how you are going to be the best solution for them.”


  • Can you tell us more about what you do day to day at Act-On?
  • How do you define sales demo?
  • Is this done online or in person?
  • How do you prepare for the demo?
  • How do you start the demo?
  • Personalize the demo?
  • How do you engage during the demo?
  • What is a successful demo?
  • How do you enable the Act-On team to deliver a good product demo?
  • How do you follow up?