How to Host an Effective Online Demo in 5 Steps

The primary responsibilities of any sales organization are to qualify new opportunities and to help those opportunities become closed sales.  Driving sales requires an effective online demo strategy to share what makes your company different and help prospects determine that you are the right choice.  Here are five steps to hosting an effective online demo.

Step 1: Schedule the Online Meeting and Send Calendar Invitations

To host an effective online demo, we recommend Cisco Webex Meetings, a web-based meeting service that is reliable, easy to use and robust enough to support up to 1,000 attendees per virtual meeting.  Webex supports screen-sharing and is accessible from any connected device – especially useful features for remote engagement.

Webex Meetings is available as a mobile app to both Android and iOS users and works as smoothly as the desktop version.  The app will even connect to the audio portion of the meeting automatically so that users on-the-go can remain safely hands-free.

CLICK to View the Cisco Webex Meetings Solution Overview

Webex Meetings enables participants to chat privately or amongst everyone, further enabling collaboration, and includes the ability to stream live web-cameras.  These are default settings that can be customized.

For example, as host, you can choose to hide the participants list or to disable screen-sharing, web-cameras, chat, microphones or any other collaborative feature.  This offers attendees more privacy.  It can also make it more difficult to interact with participants during the meeting, but it will give you more control over possible interruptions.

To schedule a new meeting, simply log into your Cisco Webex Meetings account.

webex login

From your dashboard, you can select Start Meeting to start a virtual meeting right away.  In most cases, however, you will select Schedule a Meeting to schedule a virtual meeting later.

Input a meeting topic and a meeting password.  Then, select the meeting date and time before inputting the email addresses of attendees.  Finally, select Schedule.

Prior to scheduling the meeting, verify who from your prospect’s organization will be in attendance, what their roles are in the decision-making process and whether they should receive digital meeting invitations.

After scheduling is complete, detailed meeting information will be generated, including a unique web link to join the meeting room.  Excluding the host key, this information will be automatically sent to the attendees designated by email address in the previous step.

Keep in mind that joining a virtual meeting room does require uninterrupted internet or telephone access.  These are non-issues for most businesses, so it’s best to focus on the rest of your prospect’s experience.  However, if you anticipate your prospect could encounter difficulty accessing the meeting due to a poor connection, a lack thereof or simply because they struggle with new technology, provide clear instructions for accessing the service at least twenty-four hours prior to the meeting.

Step 2: Design a Visual Aid and Script

In addition to your product itself, visual aids are a necessary component of your online demo.  They can prompt conversation, ideas and questions; they can also serve as a reference for the audience and help you stay on track, presenting your story in a cohesive and confident manner.

Put together a polished, company-branded presentation using presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi.   It should include a cover slide and follow the outline of the story you want to tell about your company and solution.  Then, craft and perfect your story by writing out an accompanying demo script.

Step 3: Tell Your Story

Prepare your computer by opening your presentation file and connecting any other hardware.  If you plan to use a web browser to showcase your website or other web resources like a customer support portal, spend time becoming comfortable with the process of navigating from your presentation to your browser with pre-loaded pages and then back to your presentation prior to the meeting.  Smooth transitions between different components of your online demo will prevent delays and unnecessary distractions.

A few minutes before go-time, launch your meeting room.


Make Introductions and Set the Agenda: Set the tone for the entire meeting by greeting attendees in an upbeat manner.  Your prospect may not be able to see your face, but the high energy in your voice will translate as excitement and genuine passion for what it is you are about to show.  Excitement is good; excitement is infectious.

Ask attendees to introduce themselves with job titles.  This will allow you to home in on the ways in which your product can impact challenges facing specific roles within your prospect’s organization.  Personalization can be more challenging during an online demo, but this will also help with voice recognition, allowing you to address attendees by name.  Finally, share the meeting agenda.

∙ Share Your Background: Personability is always a factor in decision-making to some degree, so be sure to share relatable details about your company.  Your mission, company vision or a special picture of your office space are all great ways to break the ice and establish a two-way conversation.  Even fun facts like your growth rate or exceptionally high employee retention will help to foster a more personal rapport with a prospect you haven’t met face-to-face.

Consider a brief discussion on the nature of the market and the kinds of problems affecting small businesses that created a need for your product or service.  By illustrating in-depth industry knowledge, you will build credibility as both an ally and resource to your prospect.

∙ Highlight Happy Customers and Industry Recognition: Showcase examples of how you have worked with other organizations – specifically ones with environments or problems similar to those of your prospect.  Add their logos to your presentation.  This will help your prospect make connections between your product and some of their industry peers.  It will also help them begin envisioning themselves as your customer.

Highlight industry recognition.  Third-party analysts like Forrester, Gartner and IDC have established reputations as unbiased purveyors of information across industries.  So, if your business has been recognized by an industry analyst for growth, innovation or quality, leverage these accolades in your online demo.  This will add to your company’s credibility and continue shaping your story as an industry stand-out.

∙ Mention Differentiators: Decision-makers who have committed to an online demo have probably done some preliminary research.  It is even more likely that they are also evaluating some of your competitors.  They will be drawing comparisons.  Without speaking negatively of competitors, talk about makes your company and product different.

For example, discuss the resources your organization reinvests in research and development. Illustrating your company’s commitment to continued improvement will reassure innovation-conscious prospects that you are the right partner for them in the long run.

Or perhaps members of your leadership team have previously led other successful organizations.  As far as buyers are concerned, a successful track record is a great indicator of future success.  A demo is the time to share that experience is on your side and why it makes you the go-to solution provider in your market.

If professional services are what really set your team apart, go into detail about the process for vetting your staff, the certifications and credentials you look for and how this selectivity impacts successful customer implementations.

∙ Discuss and Show the Plan to Address Your Prospect’s Problems: Provide a thorough explanation of your product or service offering and include examples of how you see your prospect using your product in their environment.  In order to do this, you may need to give thought to other tools, especially if your demonstration involves tangible goods.

For its affordability, ease of use and image quality, the IPEVO V4K Ultra HD USB Document Camera is recommended to show prospects exactly how your product or solution works in real-time.  With little to no lag time, this is the ideal document camera for still images, live action videos and even for showing the details on small surfaces, like smartphones.  Set up is a simple, one-time software download onto your computer.  From there, plug and play.  Plus, it’s compact and easily portable, making it the perfect tool for traveling salespeople.

CLICK to view the IPEVO V4K Ultra High Definition USB Document Camera

Consider the following example of using multiple technologies in order to effectively demonstrate a product online.  A trucking company has issued an iPad to each of fifty delivery drivers.  The drivers use the iPads to access delivery route information and to mark deliveries once complete.  To do both things, the drivers need to access a single mobile application, custom-developed for your prospect.

Your prospect has also shared that in addition to their standard mobile data plan, they are currently spending an extra $8,000 each month due to data overages and that they are desperate to stop drivers from streaming music and videos.   The decision whether to purchase a mobile device management solution will be made collaboratively by the Chief Operations Officer, Chief Privacy Officer and Director of Technology.  As a SaaS mobile device management solution provider, you must effectively demonstrate value to each of these decision-makers during an online demo.

You will start by explaining how the architecture of your solution – hosted in the cloud – makes management of a large device fleet easy from anywhere in the world.  Continue explaining that you will demonstrate exactly how your solution can empower the company to provide delivery information to drivers, cut down on distractions and potential risks, prevent streaming and, ultimately, save money.  In this case, it makes sense to use the IPEVO document camera in conjunction with the Webex Meetings screen-sharing capability.

At this point, you should still be sharing your computer screen.  Navigate away from your slideshow to your IPEVO document camera focused on the home screen of an unmanaged iPad, representing the unmanaged iPads in the hands of your prospect’s drivers.  Point out the presence of popular, non-work-related applications that rely on streaming, like Apple Music, Pandora and YouTube.

Next, navigate to the browser with a pre-loaded page showing the administrative console for your solution.  Identifying as your prospective Director of Technology, talk through the challenges of supporting fifty truck drivers, all in various locations across the country at a given time.  Show empathy by acknowledging how cumbersome it is to provide basic assistance, like a password reset, at odd hours without the proper solution.  Then, discuss how easily your prospect can access your solution’s admin console around the clock.

From the admin console, create their ideal device profile; enable a secure passcode requirement, upload their custom, public application from the App Store and enable single-app mode.  Then, show and talk through the processes of creating a new user, assigning the user a device and device profile and sending the user instructions for device management enrollment.  In this scenario, send the enrollment information to your very own iPad.  With the setup complete, head back to the IPEVO camera focused on the unmanaged iPad.

Talk through the enrollment experience as if you are one of your prospect’s deliver drivers.  Mention the presence of a new Apple push notification and follow the instructions therein for enrolling the device.  As the device responds to the enrollment process, allow the document camera to capture your software working in real time.  While the process unfolds, point out the disappearance of personal apps in contrast to the installation of your prospect’s custom delivery app.  Also, point out the inability to access the App Store and tie this to preventing drivers from downloading apps and from streaming online services.

Navigate to the admin console once more to highlight the managed status of the iPad and to discuss relevant management features, like monitoring and reporting, as well as security.  Drive home the impact of your solution from an IT administrator’s perspective.  Not only would your solution enable them to manage a large fleet of iPads more efficiently, but it would also help reduce network security breaches with the ability to lock or wipe lost and stolen hardware.

Finally, remind the prospect what else this means for their business.  From a legal perspective, you have just demonstrated the ability to reduce potential distractions by locking the phone into a single-app mode, dramatically reducing if not eliminating the possibility of mobile device-related collisions and saving the company from potential class actions and lawsuits.  And from an extended financial perspective, eliminating data overages by reducing data usage will result in a net yearly increase of $96,000.

Using the information your prospect shared during the qualification stage will help you create a compelling story around how your product can benefit their current environment.  This step is also critical to the development of means to offer proof of the concept you are trying to sell.

∙ Review Options for Post-Purchase Support: Once the prospect understands exactly how your offering can potentially resolve their problems or help them make improvements, talk about how your business will support their transition from prospect to customer.


Professional Services

Technical Support
If your business provides professional or industry certifications, bring these up during the online demo.  This information can surprisingly influence a purchase decision one way or the other. Professional services are very often the difference between a problematic launch and a smooth one.  If your company provides training on use or installation of your product, share this information before your prospect sees pricing or commits to a purchase without these services. If your prospect decides to sign on as a new customer, they will need to know how to request assistance should problems arise unexpectedly.  Navigate to your pre-loaded Customer Support page or provide evidence of an available and well-equipped technical support team.

Step 4: Address Concerns and Questions

Once you have successfully demonstrated your product and discussed customer support, navigate back to your presentation and make yourself available to your prospect for questions.  Ask if they have concerns or if there was something they were hoping to see that you were unable to show.  This will reveal where you and your product stand in their eyes and allow you to attempt to overcome any objections.

Finally, close the meeting by thanking your prospect and all attendees for their time.  Let them know how grateful you are for an opportunity to present more information and that you look forward to working together.

Step 5: Follow Up

Perhaps the third most important aspect of an effective online demo is the post-meeting follow up.  During the meeting, your prospect is likely to ask questions.  They may react audibly to things of interest or raise questions which cannot be answered right then.  Keep record of comments, feedback and questions – anything suggesting there is a need for more information – so that following your meeting, you can provide meaningful resources.

Remember any action items.  Be prepared to follow through on your end and to respectfully hold both parties accountable for mutual agreements.

For these reasons, your follow up process should include verification of a complete log of activities related to the corresponding pipeline opportunity in your CRM system.  This includes phone calls, emails, scheduled appointments and meetings, like online demos.  The activity log should also include reminders or open tasks for future activities yet to take place.  Insisting that your chosen CRM system is used efficiently will be useful in determining next steps and keeping the ball rolling.

Bonus Tips

Be Engaging: One potential drawback of online demos is that it just isn’t possible to observe body language or to analyze your prospect’s facial expressions for signs of engagement.   The ability to recognize non-verbal cues is especially important.  Subtle noises like a shuffling of papers or even muffled coughs can suggest that you have lost your audience.  So, remember to pause periodically for real-time feedback.

Keep It Relevant: An online demo is a great time to introduce your prospect to everything your company has to offer, but it may not necessarily be appropriate.  Your prospect will only remember how you made them feel about the viability of your product or service to meet their needs.  So, keep the conversation focused on addressing their problems.

Watch the Time: Respect your time and that of your prospect.  Keep one eye on the clock and guide the meeting to a natural close within the allotted timeframe.  If you feel you are running out of time, hit key points as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Results of an Effective Online Demo

1. Better Enabled Employees

A well-crafted company story instills confidence in employees, as does having an established, repeatable demo process with materials and tools.  Not only will your salespeople feel supported from an onboarding perspective, but they will find it easier to buy into your company story and values and will advocate more passionately for your product.

2. Control Over Messaging and Reputation

Whether you are the market leader, are fighting to gain market share or are a perceived as an underdog, in an industry facing competitors, you can be sure there is a target on your back.  Especially true in newer markets, it is important to get your story across to prospects the way you feel it should be told.  Providing online demos will increase awareness of your company and give you more control over what’s being said.

3. Increased Market Awareness

Even if every demo does not result in a closed sale, increased awareness of your product and the needs it serves will stimulate advocacy for your entire market, as well as demand.  This only widens the space for your business to meet the needs of a growing number of prospects.

4. More Revenue Opportunities

People buy goods and services from businesses in whom they feel confident.  That is, decision-makers need to feel reasonably sure that your product, solution or service will meet their needs and help them accomplish specific goals.  If you can effectively communicate your company mission and demonstrate value to prospective customers anywhere in the world, you will create more chances to close new deals.

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