Great Demos Do NOT Close Deals

Bill Balnave
3 min readAug 4, 2022

Sorry Sales Engineers of the world. But it’s true. Great demos — amazing demos — the best demo. None of these guarantee a technical win or a closed deal. I know that’s what you’re being told by sales. And some other folks who think they know. They’re wrong. It’s best to admit that now, so you can focus on the right thing.

Your job is to get the technical win. And yes, getting the technical win when selling technology is essential to getting a deal done. It’s kind of like making sure the prospect can spend money. Or has a problem you can solve. It’s a critical path step on the road to closing the deal. And if you don’t agree, we’ll save that argument for another time.

So if the Great Demo! doesn’t achieve the Technical Win, what actually does?

YOU do. That’s it. Just you.

If you believe that people buy from people — which, they do — then your prospect isn’t buying your great demo. They’re buying you. Does that mean you can just show up, and not do a demo? Of course not. Showing them your solution at some point in the sales cycle is going to be important. Most of the time.

But what’s most important is your ability to CONVINCE your prospect that your solution is the most worthwhile and valuable investment as compared to their other options and INSPIRE them to want to make a change. That takes actually building a relationship with them.

I see most SEs focus their efforts on asking the right discovery questions to be able to determine how to show their product and what words to say. What they don’t focus on are things like, am I likable? Do I really care about this person to whom I’m trying to sell something? Am I genuinely concerned about them as a person or do I think of them as a PO? Am I being considerate, getting to know them on a personal level, and being genuine with them? Do I interact with them as I would interact with the new neighbor that I’m trying to get to know, or treating them more like that person I’m being nice to because they have something I want?

That’s what will make the difference between achieving the technical win or not. That’s how you’ll convince and inspire them. If you really care about them and work to build a good relationship with them, you’ll find your successful demo becomes a natural extension of that relationship. Like you showing your neighbor how to configure their new router, or showing your mother-in-law how to set up her email. Those aren’t necessarily great demos. But they fill the needs those people have at the time and show them you genuinely care.

Let’s face it. You can talk all you want about how differentiated your solution is. It isn’t, really. There are lots of technologies that all do about the same thing. There is only one you. Make THAT the thing that gets the technical win.



Bill Balnave

Half geek half sales guy wholly opinionated writer who found sales engineering and made a good living at it. Giving back to help those looking to do same.