Product Presentation: How to Demo a Product or Service

by Tom Egelhoff

My wife and I are new homeowners. No, we didn’t just buy a home; we finally finished paying ours off. In fact earlier this evening we symbolically burned the mortgage in the fireplace and celebrated with a little champagne.

Now being a practical man I’m thinking about going on just as before but instead of sending the house payment to the bank we’ll put it in savings. The wife of course had other plans. Wallpaper, windows, deck, paint, etc. Those are the things she thinks the former house payment should be reserved for.

Now I may not know much, but I do know that you don’t stay married to the same woman for 28 years without knowing that keeping her happy is the very best way for you to stay happy. Knowing that the house is now officially ours, we decided to attend a local home improvement show to get some ideas.

She decided to focus on the windows for our first improvement. So we checked out the two vendors at the show who offered that product. Watching these two people present their products to my wife was an exercise in marketing and sales that was very entertaining to watch. I watched two companies presenting the same product to her in totally different ways.


First Venor Presentation

The first vendor was a very pleasant young man. He knew immediately who the decision maker was. I might as well have been invisible. She told him what she wanted, gave him the dimensions. He asked her a few questions about her design ideas and gave her a ballpark price. We took his card, some literature about the products and went on our way. Quick and easy. Next, to use her exact words, “Let’s check out the competition.”


Second Vendor Presentation

The next vendor was also a very pleasant young man. I once again was invisible. She gave him the dimensions, told him what she was thinking about and asked for an estimate. The second vendor told her he would have to come out and see the house, and then he could advise her on the best course of action and give her a firm price. He pulled out samples and began explaining the good, bad and ugly of each. We got his card, some literature but no estimate without a visit.

Years ago I read about a study that said people who meet twins like the twin they meet first the best. And when you think about that it makes perfect sense. When we make decisions about almost anything we must first have a benchmark for comparison. You meet the first twin and compare the second twin to the known entity. This is what happened with my wife and these two vendors.


Using Product Presentation to set the bar

The first vendor she spoke with set the bar. She then compared, consciously or not, the second vendor to the first. As we left the show she asked me what I thought of the two selling techniques. I told her in all honesty I thought the second vendor gave us more complete information about his products but that the first vendor had made a connection with her that the second did not. She agreed with that assessment.

Now, if we had seen the second vendor first would the decision be reversed? Obviously there is no way to tell. But I think the real lesson here is a difference in selling and developing a relationship with the customer. I would be very surprised if she keeps on looking. She will more than likely call the first vendor.


Logic vs. Emotion

One of my rules of marketing is very simple and this trip to the home show confirms it. “When logic and emotion come into conflict, emotion always wins.” The second vendor conducted himself in a much more professional manner than the first. Yet he will have little chance of getting the sale. He simply made the wife “feel” more comfortable.

We are in tough economic times. People are watching their pennies yet business is still being done. There is an old adage that public speakers recite before a presentation. “They won’t remember how you looked, or what you did, or what you said.” “The only thing they will remember is … How you made them feel.”

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