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What makes a great product demo? Hint: not the actual demo

We’re talking about product demos today! Not just our own demos, but all demos, and how you can make yours great as well. As you know, we started a round of demos last week, and here’s some background behind our decisions.

Jane Portman
Jane Portman

It’s Jane on the line, and we’re talking about product demos today ? Not just our own demos, but all demos, and how you can make yours great as well. As you know, we started a round of demos last week (you can still request one) and here’s some background behind our decisions.

We brought some resources to the table before figuring out our own process:

All of the resources highlighted the same key point — the perfect product demo isn’t about the product, it’s about the customer. The demos we’ve held so far confirm this point 100%.

Moreover, judging from the demos I’ve run personally, the “demo” part feels almost redundant! Especially considering our efforts to make the product simple and self-explanatory — why would it make sense to walk you through the screens, explaining obvious things? What truly matters is how exactly it’s applicable to your business.

Here are the steps we’ve decided on for our demos at Userlist:

  1. First, we ask a few qualifying questions — to learn about your business upfront, and to make sure there’s a good fit.
  2. We send you a scheduling link. We’re using the round-robin scheduling feature in Calendly to distribute meetings between the three of us.
  3. We redirect those who scheduled to a special FAQ page. This way you can come prepared and make a better use of your time. Ideally, you should have an idea about the product before the demo, and use the demo time to talk about your business and ask clarifying questions.
  4. During the demo, we mostly talk about your business and your user journey. The actual “show me around the product” part takes just a few minutes.
  5. After the demo, we send out the video recording of the call, and any other “next steps” information. This could be actual setup instructions, or an agreement to chat again in a few months, or links to competitor products that better fit your business (yes, we do that happily all the time).

As you see, it’s all about your business and making the best use of your time. As founders, we also learn a lot about our audience, even if the demo doesn’t lead to a conversion. So every demo is an exciting, mutually useful event.

We do hope that the resources above will shed some light on our process, as well as give you ideas for your own product demos. We’re still accepting demo requests, so if you want one — just email us at support@userlist.com and let us know!

— Regards, Jane.

P.S. By the way, do you know the origin of the term “round robin”? We were curious, so we did some searching and found out: “This began in the 18th century as the name of a form of petition, in which the complainants signed their names in a circle, so as to disguise who had signed first.” You can find other origin stories for this term here.

About the author
Jane Portman

Jane Portman is the co-founder of Userlist. Her mission is to help SaaS companies leverage the power of email marketing automation. Mom of three, Jane also enjoys scuba diving and runs two podcast shows: UI Breakfast and Better Done Than Perfect.