Demos are like dating……

We’ll gloss over why I was reading a book on successful dating – whatever the reason, it got me thinking about how many of the tips for a successful date can equally be applied to a successful demo. 


Most of us have managed to  navigate a successful date or two – so maybe we can apply some of the same skills we use in our social life to our work.


With this in mind, here are my top dating-and-demo – tips.


Be prepared

The more you know about a person in advance, the easier the dating experience, right?  It saves you the embarrassment of taking a vegetarian to a steak restaurant, or enthusing about heavy metal to someone who’s only in to opera.  It’s so much easier when you’ve had a chance to chat first, on the phone or face-to-face, to find out what motivates the person, their likes and dislikes, what they are looking for in a partner. 


You wouldn’t expect to go on a totally blind date, talk for half an hour about yourself, what a great person you are and why the other person should make a big investment in you.  But you’d be surprised at how many demonstrations we’ve attended where the sales person has done just that.


Don’t dominate the conversation

If you’re doing all the talking, the other person feels excluded and gets the impression you’re not interested in them.  A good date (and demo)  is one where you ask questions, find out about the other person, draw them out.


Be open-minded

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell (  reports that we make up our minds about people meet in as little as two seconds.  But our first impressions aren’t always accurate: love at first sight is pretty uncommon amongst happily married couples.  And in business, it’s easy to assume that we know what this prospective customer wants.  Better to take time to find out more before you decide.


Don’t forget your manners

There’s a useful rule of thumb in dating: Never trust anyone who is rude to a waiter.  A date can be kindness personified to us, but if that courtesy isn’t extended to others, we don’t want to know.  So don’t think the demo starts when you enter the room.  It begins when you enter the building: in a good organisation, receptionists and PAs are influential and if you’re rude to them, word will get back to your customer.


Most importantly - Don’t pretend to be something you’re not

You can spot this a mile off in your social life – the person who exaggerates or lies about everything to seem more interesting or to get people to like them.  It’s one of the most off-putting behaviours we experience.  And yet in business, somehow we think it’s different and prospects won’t realise if we exaggerate the capabilities of our product or inflate the number of licences we’ve sold by a factor of ten.   Sure, we expect a little embellishment.  But we won’t forgive being deceived. 


Image by Gabriel Gurrola