An introduction to CRM demos

You’ve compiled a shortlist of what CRM systems you think are most appropriate to your business, and you’re ready to start scheduling some demonstrations. Exciting times! Before you start contacting the companies on your list, however, here’s a quick overview of what to expect and the potential pitfalls to avoid.

What is a CRM demo?

It’s a chance for you to see for yourself the CRM system in action, maybe uploading some of your own data to make it more realistic, so you can get a feel for the system capabilities, explore any possible areas where the system can’t do what you require of it, and see if it’s a good fit for your requirements.

How do CRM demos take place?

There are two types of demo: online and traditional face-to-face. The most common, particularly for lower-end CRM systems, is online: a salesperson will call you or invite you to an online meeting at a pre-agreed time, and walk you through the system and their presentation via a series of slides displayed on your screen. There will usually be some form of screen sharing or you may be given a trial login to their system so that they can show you how it works.

Recommended reading: get expert advice on CRM demos and all aspects of CRM selection with our step-by-step guide to CRM selection success

More traditional demonstrations, meanwhile, take place at your premises with the supplier’s representative agreeing a time to call in and present the system to you and whoever else in the business is involved in the process of selecting a CRM system.

Online demos are obviously less time-consuming, and easier to arrange, than the more old-fashioned method. On the other hand, with a representative in your building, it is easier for you to get a feel for the company behind the system, and to enable multiple persons to ask questions of the potential supplier. For this reason, we recommend face-to-face demos whenever possible, although if you’re not sure an online demo can be a good place to start – and you can move onto a face-to-face demo if they make it through the ‘first round’.

 Any CRM supplier worth considering should be happy to arrange a face to face demo at a time and place that suits you. If they can’t, consider choosing another vendor – remember, selecting a CRM system is like choosing a life partner for your business – so you’d better make a good choice! As the old saying goes – marry in haste, repent at leisure….

What to expect during a CRM demo

Firstly, the vendor will usually ask a series of questions about your organization to help them establish how you will be using their system.

They may also at this point give you a bit of background on the company – date of founding, number of employees, number (and size/type) of companies using their system, and so on. If they skip over this part, it’s worth interrupting them and asking for the information – you need to have complete confidence not just in the system but in the company behind the system, so make sure you cover this before you get too deep into the demo.

They will then introduce you to their CRM system and go through the main features and benefits, either while you input data and experiment with it so you can see how it would work in the real world, or while they play video clips or animations that demonstrate what they are saying. It is of course much better if you (or a member of your team) can experiment with it  during the demonstration – you will get a much better feel for it this way, in particular how intuitive the main functions, prompts, menus, and data entry fields are. 

The demonstration will usually conclude with a further Q&A session, and a sales pitch. Remember, the salesperson is likely to be on commission, and will often try to move you towards a decision as quickly as possible by offering limited-time discounts, special deals if ordered before the month end, and so on.

You should resist this firmly, for reasons we have already discussed. If this makes you uncomfortable, it’s best to tell the salesperson right at the outset of the demo – something along the lines of “We won’t be making a decision on this immediately – this is purely a fact-finding mission for us at the moment” – to avoid any misunderstanding later.

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Rick Siderfin

About the author…

Rick is passionate about helping businesses by implementing systems to increase efficiency and to communicate in an effective and engaging way with their audience. He’s married, has three kids, and lives in the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water in rural England, U.K.

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Rick Siderfin

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