9 Tips For Better Vendor Demos


September 3, 2013

If you’ve worked in the business world for any length of time, no doubt you’ve experienced sitting through vendor demos at some point.  Sometimes, the very idea of using new software is so attractive it masks the boring aspects of the demo.  Other times, if you’re talking with a number of vendors, it becomes a time consuming chore to sit through all the demos and you find your mind wandering as the salesperson drones on and on.

I was in that position this week.

With that in mind, I pulled together 9 tips that will lead to greater success and engagement with potential clients:

  • Don’t talk over the client-  This should go without saying, but salespeople do this all the time.  Just because you are using a go-to meeting, skype or other online tool, make sure you are allowing the client time to speak and ask questions.
  • Plan in advance who will cover each slide-  It appears disorganized if there are multiple presenters and you speak over each other or if you put the next slide up and no one speaks.
  • Don’t use acronyms unless you describe them-  Assuming the potential client knows your industry lingo is arrogant.  Best not to use the acronyms.
  • Ask questions-  Build them into your presentation in order to engage the client.  This could be through polls or other types of voting.
  • Don’t use small font–  Make sure that if you have words on a slide that the client can read it.  If your font is too small, you’ll frustrate and lose the potential client.
  • Put the name of your company on every slide-  Better yet, add your name or the company Twitter handle to every slide in the header or footer.  Once you’re sitting in your 3rd or 4th demo, it’s easy to forget which company you’re reviewing.
  • Use alternative presentation options-  Stand out from your competition by getting creative with Prezi or Sliderocket.
  • Tailor your presentation to the country of the client’s organization-  If your company is headquartered in another country, convert your information to the client’s country.  This includes units of measure or currency.  Don’t make the potential client try to convert the number as you’re presenting.

The final tip is the most important….Ask for the business!


  • Please please please make sure you use the correct spelling/terminology on your slides, handouts and related materials. Last year I sat through two separate presentations (with 2 separate vendors) for some HR services and both incorrectly spelled HIPAA as ‘HIPPA.’ Um….fail.

  • Trish- These are great tips that should be integrated into every demo/presentation. I also agree with Robin’s comment – correct spelling and terminology are key. When words and acronyms are misspelled, it takes away from the professionalism and expertise the presenter is trying to give off.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.





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