How To Demo Software For Investors and Customers

how-to-demo-software-startups-founders
I don’t claim to be a demo god, but I have spent a lot time doing demos for for Workstreamer (among other past products) and more recently I have sat through many demos as an angel investor.
 
Below are a few points that might be helpful.
 
Demos are not quite what they used to be. More frequently the demo itself is self-serve, but this post is directed to the classic demo done either in-person or over video conference.
 
Like any important meeting, first do some homework on who you are meeting with. People like other people like them and they like to be flattered. Try and draw some connection between you and the investor or customer or show you put in some work “btw, I loved the blog post you wrote a couple years ago about X and this concept might product with you specifically…”
 
Remember, a demo is part visual performance (how does the product look and act?), part sales (how do you present the opportunity and can you create urgency?) and finally part psychology (do you come off as someone with subject matter authority and a like-ability factor?).
 
 
Preparation:
 
  • Practice makes perfect.
    • Use different contexts: in front of a mirror, with family members and over the phone
  • Watch other good demos.
    • Seems like a no-brainer, but people don’t think of it. Watch Steve Jobs on Youtube.
  • Know your audience.
    • For a sophisticated investor or customer don’t use buzz words and don’t waste their time with small talk – give your intros, try to draw a personal connection, and dive in.
  • Be on time – it is your first and easiest test
  • Forget decks: just show the product!
  • Have a strategy to establish trust: Make sure you explain why your team: why should they trust you? If an enterprise customer, how can they trust you will stay in business or that you have security and data concerns dialed?
  • Have a strategy to establish urgency; if you want them to take action quickly (invest, buy, etc) you need a compelling reason why
  • Personalize where possible
    • Present the demo in the context of a storyline, rather than talking about functionality. If a customer demo, try to quantify the time or cost savings
 
 
The Demo:
  • People will remember the stuff and the beginning and the end: make important points correspondingly
  • Start by saying how long the pitch will be and request that interruptions wait until the end.
    • It’s your show so don’t let someone else mess up your rhythm. But, at the same time don’t talk for more than a minute two without pauses to allow for clarification.
  • One person should do the pitch at a time: but you should hear from each founder
    • Cofounders can nod in agreement, but don’t be jumping in and cutting each other off
  • Use mock-ups to prevent the vision for the future
  • Acknowledge competition early and clearly explain why your approach will win. Investor will likely know the other players so don’t avoid it. Investors appreciate founders with strong perspective. Google was like the 25th search engine.
  • Perhaps overdone, but use the Steve Jobs close: one more thing!
    • Ideally you drop a bomb about traction the person hadn’t expected
  • Make your ask at the end and make it clear: the terms of the investment, or the cost of the product. If you start with this you risk derailing the conversation
  • Quickly follow-up (within 24 hours) with supporting materials and reiterate your ask
 
In-Person Demos:
  • When given a choice, I’d always opt to demo in-person
 
Video Demos:
  • Body posture (still) matters with video.
  • Clothing/appearance matters
  • Make sure you know how to use your screen-sharing software.

Have an amazing product? Pitch me in 140 @samhuleatt

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