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Word to the Wise: Never Do This During a Live Demo

How to avoid these faux pas during your next live product demo.


An inside joke among entrepreneurs is if something is going to go wrong with your product, it usually occurs during an important demo. Sometimes you can't control that. But there are a few things that are in your control.

Here is a list of "don'ts" if you've got to give an online demo to a prospective client:

1. Don't leave on your instant message feed. You would think turning your IM off would be common sense, but apparently, not so much. During a recent demo with a potential vendor, a few folks on my team witnessed a live instant message between the person giving the demo and another person at his company.

What made this instant message so bad is that it was not divulged to my team that this other person was either on the call, or listening to the call via speaker or any other channel. Fail. In addition, some of the responses are concerning, "just tell them 99.99 percent of time" and "lol". This showed a lack of experience and professionalism on the part of both the folks on the demo. Needless to say, we were looking at multiple vendors and this did not bode well for this one.

IM Example

2. Don't demo without knowing your stuff. If you're going to be giving demos, anticipate as many questions as possible and know the answers. And if you don't, make sure you call in some reinforcements and tell your attendees who is on the call. We've all been new and had to do a fair amount of "fake it, till you make it", but when a potential deal is on the line, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It will be a lot easier than explaining why you lost the deal because you didn't cover your bases.

3. Don't put yourself down if you do mess up. So you've messed up and you get called on it. It has happened to all us at one time or another. There is a professional and graceful way to apologize and move on. It's a fine line between accepting responsibility and accountability and saying something like, "I'm young and stupid, don't hold my company accountable and I hope you'll still do business with us". While you may feel that way, you don't want to further erode your credibility. Apologize in a sincere way and try to make it right. Period. The end.

Have you ever encountered any epic errors during a live demo? How'd you cope? Share away in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 11, 2013

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JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000.

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