How you might be alienating your audience during your Demo

How you might be alienating your audience during your Demo

(without even knowing it)

I sat in a room and watched as other classmates went up to present their brand launch strategies for the husband-and-wife cofounders of a craft rum brand. Time after time, I would see teams address only the husband with questions or responses, even though they both run the business. Finally, she got so frustrated with the class that she stopped a presenter mid-sentence. The room got quiet, and she told everyone: 

“My husband and I started this brand together. I developed this brand, I work with our products, this business is just as much a reflection of me as it is my husband. I thought I would mention this before we resume with the rest of the launch plans.”

This message, while understated, made the point quite clearly – my classmates left out a key audience member (likely unintentionally, but the damage was done). While every situation might not be this overtly destructive, there are some behaviors I’ve seen all too often that can lead the audience to ignore you, ultimately resulting in a dead deal without you even knowing it because you killed your demo:

  1. Topical humor

While humor can be a great way to connect with your audience or break the ice, try and stick to safe topics. The golden rule is to stay away from politics, religion, and degradation – of the people in the room, the competition, or your own team (it sounds crazy, but I’ve seen it happen more than once). Especially in today’s political climate, you may think you share a viewpoint with the audience, but what if you don’t? Is that joke, which is likely just a throwaway in your presentation, worth potentially alienating your audience? We don’t always know what the people across the table from us are thinking (and they typically won’t tell us), so why give them a reason to dislike us before we even get through the demo?

  1. Only focusing on the decision maker 

Salespeople are taught to find the decision maker (we’ve all been in the sales meetings when the manager keeps asking “who is the decision maker? Are you talking to them yet?”) So when the presentation is happening, many salespeople or presenters only speak to the decision maker (real or perceived) during their presentation. While you want to make sure your message is aimed at “he or she who signs on the line that is dotted (so to speak”), you don’t want to do it to the expense of ignoring everyone else in the room. Good leaders make decisions based on the interest of their team and if you don’t engage the group of people giving you their time, you may not get the buy in or support that you need to push the deal through to the end. And if the other people in the room think you’re ignoring them or don’t care about them, they will do everything in their power to stop the deal (which they can do – even if they can’t sign off). 

  1. Feature overload

One of our most popular services is transforming “feature demos” into value presentations. While your product or service can do a number of things, your audience doesn’t care. What they do care about is their specific needs and how you can help make their life better. If you present the same demo in front of all of your prospects, chances are you aren’t hitting their specific needs. If you aren’t presenting something your audience cares about, they’re going to space out, likely killing your deal on the spot, even if what you’re selling would have been their best fix. 

  1. A lack of diversity 

From your demo team to the stock photos selected for your presentation, critical segments of the population and their perspectives are left out of the presentation. This happens in a number of ways – the most common examples are gender or race related, but it can really be any number of things.  Only presenting through the lens of one person or group can not only potentially limit your solution, but it can also leave the audience feeling left out – which doesn’t exactly make them want to buy. experiences is the easiest way to kill. The ways to address these types of issues go far beyond the scope of this blog, but here’s something you can do today: go through your slide deck (or website) and take a look at the images if all you see is white and/or men, then there’s work that needs to be done. 

  1. Using too many acronyms

WRT acronyms – when you are presenting to PPL, IRL or when you’re WFH, you want to create a great UX. So, FYI, if you want to have a killer demo FTW, you should limit how many acronyms you’re using. 

If you’re using slang, jargon or acronyms that the audience doesn’t know, they likely won’t stop you to tell you (no one wants to feel stupid in front of their team or boss). Also, say you have different definitions of the same acronym (SMB – small/medium business or server message block) – that will lead to a miscommunication pretty quickly. 

While acronyms have a place in speeding up communication if everyone is in-the-know, you might be backing yourself into a corner by assuming people already know what you’re talking about. The think about presentations is that no-one wants to look dumb, even your audience – especially if there’s a boss is in the room. People aren’t going to ask for clarification so if you don’t provide context your sale might die off due to simple miscommunication or misunderstanding.

If you think you might be committing some of these offenses or need assistance with developing your most effective sale, contact us and see what we can do for you – Demo Audits are the most effective way to get feedback and coaching towards closing sales faster.

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