5 Common Product Demo Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Kristina Eventov
September 29, 2021

Whether you've given 100 demos or 1, there are some common product demo mistakes we all make – here's how to avoid them.

The course of product demos never did run smooth. Whether you’ve given 100 demos, or this is your first one, there are some mistakes we’re all prone to making that can either make or break a deal. 

Here are our 5 most common demo mistakes and tips for how to avoid them.

1. Misaligned Expectations between You and Your Prospect.

Now there’s no point just going through everything that’s already been covered in a discovery call, but it is important to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. Prospective customers don’t want their time wasted, as much as you don’t want to waste your time prospecting to someone who has no interest in moving the deal forward. If you start spouting value propositions that aren’t actually relevant for the prospect, or even committing to a deal with someone who’s not the decision maker, you’re not being productive or efficient with your time.

Tip for avoiding:

Before you begin the demo, just take a moment to recap any big takeaways from previous discussions you’ve had with the prospect(‘s company). No matter if the prospect has explicitly said, or if you’ve been able to infer, just clarify the challenges you believe your prospect is facing and any particular pain points specific to their work.

Pain points can generally be grouped into 4 areas

  • Productivity
  • Financial
  • Process 
  • Support

Try having at least 2/3 prospect-specific examples in mind to demonstrate your value proposition. From the outset, this will show your prospective customer that you truly understand their use case and already illustrate which areas of their work you can help them with.

2. Feature Dumping.

The point of a product demo isn’t just to show off your product in all its glory. If you’re not focusing on your prospective customer and what your product can do for them specifically, they have no reason to pursue the conversation any further. Failing to acknowledge your prospect’s nuanced pain points and challenges will only leave them questioning whether your product is even necessary for them.

Tip for avoiding:

Use the demo as an opportunity to tell the prospect’s story. Don’t waste your time simply going through every single feature your product has, especially if it’s not specifically relevant to your prospect. Use the roles at your prospect’s company to help set the context for the different features you demo, and consistently relate it back to your prospect’s experiences in order to demonstrate the corresponding benefits. By providing a prospect with bespoke solutions to their pain points, you’ll elicit a stronger response and the prospect will be much more likely to follow up with you and (hopefully) close a deal.

If you use presentation slides, for example, simply having the prospect’s company logo on a slide, alongside the assumed challenges etc, will show that the presentation is tailor-made for them. As well, present (or ask for!) example scenarios and showcase exactly how your product can be used to tackle each one and, ultimately, improve your prospect’s workflow..

3. Monologuing.

As much as you want to tell your prospect all about the amazing features your product offers, don’t get carried away and bombard them with too much (unnecessary) information. If you start monologuing, similar to our previous point, your prospect will fail to see how you can solve their specific challenges. After all, it’s not meant to be a lecture – it should be an interactive demonstration of your product made specific to the prospect’s use case(s). 

Tip for avoiding:

Simply put, you need to be mindful of your talk-to-listen ratio i.e., more listening and less talking. This is easier said than done, but some ways of fine tuning your talk-to-listen ratio include:

  • Asking questions. Whether simply checking that your prospect understands, or seeing if they have anything they’d like to add, be sure to include them in the dialogue.
  • Pausing often. Give the prospect time to really take in what you’ve said. If you’ve posed a question, be sure to pause after the prospect’s answer to show that you’re taking the time to understand them and encouraging them to be as open as possible. One idea is to count to 3 in your head to make sure you’ve given your prospect enough time to add anything else, while also allowing enough time to absorb the information given.
  • Speaking simply. There’s no point trying to show off with fancy words and overly-technical terms. Use plain language that gets your point across, makes your product’s benefits clear, and highlights how simple it is to use your product.


Even if you’ve set aside time for a Q&A at the end of your session, the conversation should flow organically – conversation being the operative word – so be open to ad hoc questions throughout the demo. The prospect wants to feel included, not talked at.

4. Not Setting Next Steps.

Let’s say you’ve had a great demo call, the prospect is interested, and you’ve left the call there. Now what? Your prospect is none the wiser as to how to proceed, and you’re not held accountable for the appropriate next steps needed to move the deal forward. It doesn’t matter how well your demo goes, not outlining how to proceed could be the reason a deal falls through – the prime to act is when your prospect is hooked and on the line!

Tip for avoiding:

If your prospect is happy, check who the decision-maker is and make plans to meet with them. Then, before you end the session, briefly summarize everything you’ve discussed – highlight key takeaways, clearly state your next steps, and mention anything you may need from your prospect’s side. The prospect will leave the demo reminded of your product’s value and feel well-informed on what to expect next. 

Unless it has become incredibly clear that this isn’t a suitable prospect-product fit, you should always end the demo with something that keeps the deal moving forward.

5. Panicking When Tech Fails.

Sometimes tech is not on your side which, though nerve-wracking, is not your fault. What matters is how you recover and proceed. If you start panicking, your prospect will panic and you’ll start to lose credibility. Similarly, don’t forget that the meter is still running on your product demo call and you can’t just pause and restart without wasting your prospect’s time. If you fail to prepare (even for a tech failure), you’re preparing to fail.

Tip for avoiding:

Just because you’re unable to showcase a particular feature (or worst case scenario – the whole product), doesn’t mean that you can’t still talk your prospect through why each feature / the product is important for them. When tech fails, refocus on the value proposition. At the end of the day, how your tech can solve your prospect’s specific problem is the most important thing.

Use basic terms to explain what the product/feature is supposed to do, and then explain how your other customers have used it to solve their specific challenges, before focusing on the prospect’s unique use case. In fact, you could even take this opportunity to ask more probing questions about your prospect’s pain points, what their ideal product would look like, and uncover some invaluable in-depth learnings that you can then pass on to your product team.

Our previous tip is especially handy when tech fails during a product demo call – you need to be effective with your next steps. After your ‘failed’ demo call, simply record a perfect video demo for your prospect, incorporating any new information you discovered during the call – for example, you can use Ciara’s automated call summary and transcript to pinpoint key info! Be specific and intentional with this new demo recording and make it clear to your prospect that it is custom-made to address their specific needs. To film and record your demo with a voiceover, you can use tools like Loom. Once you’re done, just send your prospect the recorded ‘perfect’ demo, along with a meeting invite for any follow-up questions that your prospect may have. Remember to send this perfect product demo as soon as possible after your ‘failed’ product demo in order to keep up the momentum and keep your deal moving forward.

Give Product Demos That Sell with Ciara.

Use Ciara as your live product demo platform to keep your prospects engaged, talking points covered, and your deals closing.

Ciara gives real-time recommendations throughout your product demo – Ciara understands the context of your call and supports you with real-time prompts such as relevant questions to ask and monologue alerts. As well, don’t be caught out by a rebuttal as Ciara automatically detects when an objection is raised and pulls up relevant battle cards.

As we’ve mentioned, the deal doesn’t stop after you’ve showcased your product’s features in the product demo. With every call made with Ciara, you’ll get a recording, scrollable and highlightable transcription, as well as a conversation summary – say goodbye to lost information and details. Ciara even syncs everything to your CRM, saving you hours of post-meeting documentation each week.

Ready to give winning product demos that close deals? Let Ciara help (for free!).