Being properly prepared for a demonstration makes the world of difference, according to the industry trainers at T21
T21 has a confession to make.
Here it is: we cheated!
Maybe we should explain…
Last year, you may or may not know, we filmed four training videos at a retailer client of ours in Norwich. In one of those films our lead character had to demonstrate a vacuum cleaner to a batty old lady who had a passion for hairy dogs. Quite simply we’d unrolled a section of carpet onto the shop floor, covered it in some dirt gathered from the car park, and all our actor had to do was vacuum it up whilst saying his lines. It was the final shoot of the day and everything had been meticulously planned and rehearsed so we were confident we’d finish on time.
The trouble is, we’d all overlooked one important detail: the vacuum cleaner we used was wholly unsuited for the kind of dirt we’d spread about the place. When the cameras rolled, not only did the thing not suck up the dirt, it actually broke. It rattled over the dirt, it screamed, it choked, and when everyone had stopped laughing it died on us.
We couldn’t use another vacuum cleaner because we’d already used it filming part of that scene earlier in the day (NB: continuity is critical in filmmaking). Re-shooting those earlier scenes with a different cleaner would impact on our time (NB: time is critical in filmmaking.)
So, using the magic of video editing software a few weeks afterwards, we cheated. When you watch the film back now you’ll see that the vacuum cleaner smoothly sucks up all the dirt in seconds, with nothing but a purr from its tortured engine, and our shop assistant’s enthusiastic pitch to his customer is delivered minus the howls of laughter from behind the cameras.
The problem was, firstly, that in none of the rehearsals had the dirt been used. We’d been saving it for the live shoot to minimise disruption on the shop floor. Secondly, the vacuum cleaner had been used in countless demonstrations previously and was ready to peg it.
But we saved the day. Only now have we ‘come clean’ on this.
Of course, in real life, if your vacuum cleaner fails to perform at the critical moment and your customer is backing away with a shake of the head, it’s game over. No amount of video trickery is going to hide from them the fact that this wonderful machine has been exposed as woefully inadequate for their needs. Joking aside, if this happens not only do you lose credibility but so does the business, and so does the brand. It can take a lot of time and a lot of work to bring that customer back into the fold, so it’s critical that you do what you can to ensure that your demonstrations run without a hitch each and every time.
With that in mind, and to help you clean up on your floorcare demonstrations, we’ve put together Five Top Tips. (We’ve also pinned these up in our office to ensure that we don’t make the same mistake again.)
Plan your demonstration. Know what the demonstrable features are and work out how you will show the benefits. Work out what you will say and how you will say it. If you can work in a team, all the better, as you’ll be able to help each other and gain immediate useful feedback.
Practice. Once you’ve mapped out your demonstration you’ll need to rehearse it, preferably with the dirt (cough!) so that there are no unexpected surprises.
Prepare. Make sure you have everything you need on the day. Does the cleaner require charging up? Do you need a spare? Have you got all the accessories and props to put on a fantastic show?
Promote. Don’t be afraid to be a little theatrical. Enthusiasm, passion and energy can elevate a so-so pitch into an unforgettable, show-stopping demonstration that will completely wow your customers.
Pass it over. Find a way to bring the customer in on the demo. Let them control the robot and vacuum up the dirt. If you’re able to hand the reins to your customer then they’ll start to see how wonderfully this thing will fit into their homes. Like a purring kitten, they’ll want to adopt it.