Sales Demos vs. Sales Presentations: What's the Difference? Blog Feature
Molly D Protosow

By: Molly D Protosow on March 29th, 2018

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Sales Demos vs. Sales Presentations: What's the Difference?

Sales Tips | Sales Training | Pipeline Management

What is the difference between a sales demonstration and sales presentation?

The distinction between the two comes down to timing and intention.

A sales demonstration is typically what happens early in your sales process and is meant to show your prospects and customers how to apply your product, service, or solution. It's the cumulative result of research, process, and most importantly, an effective needs assessment.

A sales presentation is typically what happens toward the end of your sales process. It is meant to highlight and prove the value of your solution as well as tell a compelling story and align your message with the needs of your audience while also providing a strong call-to-action that appeals to the emotions and desires of your audience.  

Knowing the difference between the two will help you enhance your sales approach and allow you to apply the proper strategy to each opportunity and sales situation.

Let's look at demonstrating and presenting from 4 different perspectives: 

Gathering Info vs. Defending Info


When you demonstrate, you're still in the process of gathering information. Everything from uncovering unspoken pain points or new company initiatives to learning past buying patterns and discovering personal motivations.

When you present, you are confirming that what you've learned during your demo is correct by presenting your case for why your prospect should consider your solution. 

When you're demonstrating, consider including:

When you're presenting, consider:

  • Telling a story that addresses what's worrying your prospect, why you understand, and how to address the issue. For instance, a lot of businesses are struggling to keep up with the changing digital marketing and sales landscape as buyers become savvier and more informed. The solution? Changing how and where you interact with your audience by leveraging digital and social selling techniques.
  • Using a compelling call-to-action. Challenge your prospects, ask a question, invite them to do something, use an applicable quote or even wrap-up with a story. Your call-to-action should summarize the most important arguments of your presentation and tell your audience how they can take the next step.

Whether you're giving a demo or presenting your solution, the main thing is to deliver it with your prospect or customer's point-of-view in mind.

Positive Reaction vs. Negative Reaction

Whether you're giving a demonstration or delivering a presentation, you're looking for a reaction.

When you present, you’re looking for a positive reaction.  But when you demonstrate, you're looking for a negative reaction.

Preparation is the key to presentations, whereas, anticipation is the key to demonstrations.

If you've properly researched, prepared, and rehearsed your presentation, then you're likely to see a positive reception from the audience. 

However, when you demonstrate you’re anticipating a negative one. 

You may be wondering: If I’m demonstrating early on in the sale, why would I be looking for a negative reaction?

Here is the reality that many of us are all too familiar with: 

It's fairly easy to tell when someone is not seriously considering adding a new product or service to their life. You may say something like, "You know, I just found this awesome new tool that you should consider using," or "If you're having a problem with that, I'd suggest you try this."

If the person you're making these suggestions to isn't seriously considering what you've said, then you may get a very appeasing response like "yeah, yeah, that's good" or "yeah, that's interesting, mm-hmm."  This type of response is a key indicator of a neutral or negative reaction. 

When someone is seriously considering a change or trying something new, they will engage with what you've said or ask questions to clarify what you mean and expand upon your suggestions.

This may come off as negative because as they start to think about changing, their pain points and fears of changing will naturally rise to the surface.  They may begin to focus on all the possibilities that could take them in the wrong direction. While some may think this signals the death of a sale, fear not!  That’s actually a good sign because it implies that the person is truly considering the implementation.

Keep in mind your prospect is about to agree to something they may have never done before, and they need a trusted adviser and partner. A truly excellent salesperson makes a client feel well-informed, confident, and secure in their decision to conduct business with you. 


Wide vs. Narrow Net

When you demonstrate, you are engaging with a prospect to find the best application for your products and services. When you present, you have already, at the minimum, found the first application for your product.

Let’s assume that you’re working with the prospect to demonstrate what you have to offer, i.e. how the product works, why other people use it, and how they themselves may consider using it.  But you are not saying, “I already know the best use of this product or service for my customer.” You’re also indicating that it’s worthwhile for both you and the client to work together to explore and discover the best application for the product. 

When you present, you are saying, “Here are the three things that I will show you. I’m presenting and confirming what it is that I’m going to sell you, why it is the optimal option for your needs, and what return on investment you will achieve." The assumption is that we’ve come to an earlier agreement as to why it is important and valuable for the customer to invest in our solution and what specific problem it will address.

Exchanging Information vs. Call-to-Action

Finally, when you demonstrate, you are in the midst of exchanging information. You will show what you have, but do so in a deliberate manner. You are explaining the intricacies of how something works, and inviting the audience to interact and ask questions. In other words, you are engaging in a trade of knowledge. It is essential for you to obtain some insights or access to insider people when you are demonstrating. 

When you present, you’re only doing it for one reason and one reason only: to make your audience take action. Although information is definitely shared during a presentation, it is done so in order to prompt an action, a next step to nudge a client further down your sales pipeline

What Now?

If you ever again get confused with the distinction between these two, think of it like this:

Demonstrating happens early in your sales process and is essentially showing, in a personalized way, how a product or service will make the life of your client better.

Presenting happens later in the process and is used to confirm the value you can deliver and tailor your call-to-action for the opportunity at hand. 

Now that you know the fundamental differences between the two, start using these sales tips to your advantage and start creating more effective demos and presentations to take your client relationships to the next level.

Take Client Relationships to the Next Level - Start Here


About Molly D Protosow

Molly Protosow is the COO and Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.

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