What Really Goes into Building Software Demos

This topic is probably one of my favourite ones and most at my heart.

Let's imagine it's Tuesday afternoon. Your sales rep messages you on your favourite messaging app, and has already booked in a demo with a prospect for tomorrow.

"It's just a demo..."

- Most sales reps out there

Your sales rep is super pumped as this is such an important opportunity to work on, and will most likely close after the demo. Even though you're not in the same office as we're all working from home, you can feel the vibe...

As Presales Consultants are responsible for the Solution part of the deal life cycle, you start asking your sales rep questions about the deal:

  • Has this opportunity been properly qualified?

  • What's the timeline and budget for the project?

  • Are we talking to the decision maker?

Just the usual questions from the BANT framework. Of course, you checked your CRM before pondering those questions, but CRM hygiene sometimes isn't the best. You might know how I feel, yeah?

Now let's assume this deal is qualified, the prospect has budget and authority to work with us. They want to go live in Q[1-4, you name it!], right before their busy period starts.

Now the first part of the PreSales Consultants' job starts.


PreSales Consultants rarely want to be thrown into a meeting or demo — hence why preparation is key to success!

Ideally, before jumping into any software demonstration, we want to be involved in the discovery process in one way or another.

Depending on how this is set up in the company, the sales rep could be doing their own discovery meeting(s) with the prospect, and we would rely on seeing some really good discovery notes before jumping into the demo.

When it's most likely a larger and complex opportunity, PreSales Consultants want to be involved into the discovery process. I call this Deep Discovery, where PreSales Consultants get heavily engaged in the opportunity or account from the beginning.

Let's just imagine that your sales rep is really good at uncovering business goals, challenges, pain points, metrics, etc. You read through the discovery notes and it's super clear on what the prospect wants to achieve.

Now that we have a good understanding of what the prospect wants to achieve, let's just do the demo!

But wait, there is more

While every organisation might handle this differently, let's assume you have some standardised demo instances that could ideally be used for the demo.

This prospect, however, handles workflows a bit differently and special than what could be demo'd with a standardised instance. Hence why we'll need to customise the demo to suit the prospect's needs. This will also give you more of a wow-factor when presenting back exactly what the future state will look like.

Now that we have a rough idea of what we want to do, let's start working on the...

Demo Prep

You might have set up your own task lists on preparing the demo instance. Let's take a closer look at what this could look like:

  • Check out the prospect's website

  • Check out the awesome discovery notes from the AE

  • Establish a win theme from a solution perspective

  • Establish a demo build plan (i.e. map values from win theme with features in software)

  • Establish a demo flow (i.e. demo personas and use-cases)

  • Internal catchup with sales rep and other relevant stakeholders to agree on the above

  • If you're into storytelling, it will take some time to come up with a suitable story for the prospect's use-case

  • You'll most likely want to show some slides to present the story and demo flow, which must also be planned and then built out

And now we can...

Build the Demo

Now that we're on track and know what we want to show as part of the demo, it needs to be built. Some companies might have awesome templates or tools that can be used for creating customised demo instances, but for some it still means building out demo instances manually.

This heavily depends on the level of effort, complexity of the demo, complexity of the software, maturity of the PreSales Solution Consultant, and many other factors.

In a nutshell, this task can take anywhere between a few hours to multiple days.

Pro tip: If you can templatize as many demo scenarios as possible, and even record those demos for later on, it will become a valuable asset for any PreSales organization. Sharing is caring!

Now you might say, we have the first iteration of our demo flow ready, the instance is built out, you have your slides ready... now we could just demo! Let's imagine this is a larger demo, with many important stakeholders in the room, you might want to do...

Demo Dry-Runs (one:many)

Yes, this is a thing. Before we do the actual demo to the key prospect's stakeholders, you might want to internally (and even externally!) test your demo flows. This can easily be one or two dry-runs with the sales rep, and any other internal stakeholders that are relevant for the deal.