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To Salespeople, Demos and Presentations are Like Snack Food


Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

bagel donutPrior to learning about healthy eating, I believed a bagel was a healthy alternative to a donut.  After I was shown that a carbohydrate converts to sugar in the blood and there wasn't much difference between bread, bagels or rolls; and donuts, cake or pie, I changed the way that I ate.

Most people have not seen the light, are not aware that sugar causes disease, believe that pasta, rice, grains and potato are healthy, and continue to gain weight.  Many eventually become sick. 

Enough of that!  Let's switch gears and discuss what you came here to read.

Most salespeople haven't seen the light either.  They aren't aware that continuing to present, demo, propose and quote are unhealthy approaches for the pipeline.  Demos and presentations are the sales equivalent of sugar (we like them and they make us feel good.)  Like snacks and comfort food, they cause our pipelines (insides) to become inflamed and our forecasts (blood work) to become unacceptable.  

Three years ago, when I committed to change the way in which I eat, I found that it was only difficult for 5 days.  5 days for the carb cravings to go away.  5 days before fruits and vegetables tasted delicious.  5 days until snack food lost its appeal.  5 days until I recognized how awful I felt after eating carbs which didn't come from fruit or vegetables.  5 days until I didn't have to rely on willpower, but instead, good old-fashioned discipline and goals did the trick.

Salespeople must go through a similar process.  For 5 days, they must resist the temptation to present unless they've reached the step in the sales process when presenting is okay.  Of course, postponing the presentation or demo until a later stage of the sales process is futile if there isn't a formal, structured, customized, optimized sales process in place.  Similarly, avoiding the wrong foods is futile until you know what the correct foods are and can make meals of them.

Sales has changed dramatically.  Prospects and customers are attempting to commoditize everything you sell.  You must be able to differentiate yourselves.  Presentations and demos may point to differences in your offerings, but the act of presenting and doing demos makes you appear very much the same as everyone else.  When everything looks the same, prospects focus on price.  Consultative selling, an extremely underdeveloped skill for most salespeople, is the approach which all salespeople must master in order to differentiate themselves effectively.  Unfortunately, Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 650,000 salespeople shows that they only possess, on average, 21% of the attributes of a consultative seller.

It's time to face the reality of 2013.  Your salespeople must embrace and master consultative selling.

© Copyright  Dave Kurlan All Rights Reserved

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 08:10 AM


I don't think you stopped eating all carb's and likewise salespeople shouldn't stop doing all demos and presentations. BUT (and I thinks this was your point) salespeople should not lead with demo, they shouldn't make a "meal" out of the presentation. They should use them in moderation and only when the prospect has qualified to get one and only after the "consultation" has yielded enough information to know that the prospect has enough of a compelling reason to move forward, has enough money to make it happen and is willing to make a decision. 

posted on Monday, February 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM by Dan Caramanico

I guess this where Desire, to succeed in sales and Commmitment to do whatever it takes toget there ring so true. Likewise if you want to ditch any old habits and embrace the new habits that requires Desire and Commitment. People will change when they have that compelling reason all part of consultative selling.

posted on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 3:11 AM by Ray Bigger

The question isn't "Should we get rid of demos?"; it's "WHEN should we do the demo?" 
Traditional selling revolves around the demo/presentation. The result is we end up giving many presentations to unqualified prospects. Hit a lot of rejection. Spin our wheels. 
Move the demo/presentation phase to the END of the process. Only show how you do what you do to fully qualified prospects. Otherwise, you are merely giving a free education to someone who will thank you, but buy from another person who can give it to them at the lowest price. And you'll be sitting there, wondering what the heck happened.

posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM by Jason Kanigan

Thanks Dan and Ray. 
Jason - you said "traditional" selling. It's high time for that ineffective, outdated method of not selling be bannished. 
Email replaced faxes, cars replaced horses and satellites replaced roof-top antennas. But not until people WANTED those modern miracles. Salespeople still WANT to present and until they see how ineffective it is early in the sales process, or making up the entire sales process, it will stay just the way it is.

posted on Friday, March 01, 2013 at 2:06 PM by Dave Kurlan

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