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How Long Should My Demo Last?

Great Demos Stimulate Conversations and Naturally Last Longer

Please ask yourself: How much time did you spent with your last prospect walking them through your software? Was it 60, 90 or even 120 minutes?

Your average demoduration?

Many of my clients have been wondering about the ideal duration of a software demonstration. Of course, there is no definite answer to this questions as this highly depends on the kind of demo you are going to give. Is it a first discovery session to qualify your prospect, the duration is usually <20 minutes. If we are entering the final stage of our sales cycle, a detailed software evaluation might take longer until all relevant boxes have been ticked.

Secondly, the level of complexity of your solution has an impact on the time you spend with your prospects, though managing the complexity of your demon is one key success factor of winning demos. Luckily, however, there is a benchmarks which helps you to validate whether you are approaching your prospects the right way.

Gong.io, a startup analyzing sales conversations via AI based algorithms, has analyzed more than 67.000 (!) software demonstrations to identify patterns of successful and unsuccessful software presentations. The results they have shared provide great insights and can easily applied to your own software demonstrations:

  • 47 minutes is the average duration of winning software demonstrations
  • Less successful demos however, only take 36 minutes.

I don’t say you should be talking about your software 47 minutes straight; but there is a clear indication that longer-lasting demos tend to increase your closing rate.

Successful software demonstrations are 30% longer than unsuccessful sessions, as they stimulate conversations by addressing your audiences pain points, making them feel excited about your solution.

According to Gong.io, the reason for longer demo sessions to be more successful is easy – because they are more fun, exciting and engaging. Great demonstrations are on point and resonate with your audience’s needs, so they are automatically going to spend more time with you and your stories. Great demos stimulate conversations addressing their pain points rather than choking off your listeners within the first 10 minutes. The more interactive the session gets, the more likely it is your audience is resonating with your message.

An Evolving Discussion is a Great Sign you Have Hooked your Audience

Along your demonstration, the conversation slowly evolves from a single threaded pitch to a vivid discussion between you and your audience. An engaged audience is a great sign your listeners are hooked by you and your value proposition. On average, according to Gong.io, the frequency of questions increases by 36% during the second half during winning software demos. If we look at less successful demo data, the interaction rate is much lower. As a result, your demo session won’t last as long because we are lacking interaction and Q&A.

Don’t be afraid if it takes some time to engage with your audience. Start out by proactively asking them questions and let them tell you how they are currently managing their processes without your solution. Ideally, you should be reaching out to your audience every 50-70 seconds and allow for interaction.

Personally, I had lots of demonstrations where my audience was initially reserved and kinda repulsive,. They were trying not to show any emotions by holding their cards close to their chest. The longer we talked and chatted with each other, the more they got engaged and started sharing their opinions and feelings about our solution. Simply because the stories I told them resonated with their daily hustles and personal life they could see themselves using our solution. Remember: Engagement will increase during the second half of your demo.

But Please: Don’t ever ask whether something makes sense! This is one of the most common mistakes – and nothing more than an empty phrase to mask your uncertainty whether your feature is providing any value. Instead, ask probing questions like „Did you ever think about doing it this or that way?“, emphasizing the benefits of YOUR solution and WHY this is important to your listeners.

Don’t be afraid of questions – they are a great indication to assess the success of your demo and whether your audience is engaged or not.

To sum up: Winning software demonstrations last naturally longer because your audience can see the benefits of your solution. This stimulates a discussion where they will eventually figure out by themselves how your product will make their life easier. Once you have hooked them your listeners will spend more time with you and your solution as they can see the value. Consider more time for answering questions during the second half of your demo before closing the session.

Don’t schedule 2-hour sessions just for the sake of spending lots of time with your prospects. If you cannot provide enough or any value, you are both going to lose valuable time. Plus, its almost impossible to retain your audiences attention for two long hours if you cannot provide continuous value throughout your demo.

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