As InfoComm approaches, let’s consider the art of the demo [Part I]

InfoComm is just around the corner and so we’re thinking a lot about the processes and rituals involved in the art of the demo. Before we proceed, though, we just want to say that we hope you’ll visit us at booth #N2519.

So anyway, it’s a foregone conclusion that demonstrating high quality audio is the best way to sell it. For all those people who say, “I really can’t hear the difference,” one good demo can convince them otherwise. And it’s not hard to do.

But like anything else, if you want to do it well there are certain guidelines that should be followed:

  1. Make sure everything is hooked up properly and working correctly. There’s nothing worse than having to make excuses for the system’s performance or explaining why the equipment you’re trying to sell them isn’t working properly. I once witnessed a specialty audio salesman doing a demo of a $5000 home theater package (which was part of a $65,000 whole house system). He explained to the client that the receiver he was recommending (which was in the demo board) wasn’t working properly so he was going to use another brand to do the demo. Not good way to start.
  2. Explain to the music client what they are going to hear and what they should listen for. Voices that sound like humans. If there are multiple singers, can you pick out the individual voices? Natural sounding instruments. Cymbals that have a metallic ring to them. A reasonable balance of bass, mids and highs. Imaging, and sound-staging.
  3. If you’re demoing a home theater make sure to mention the immersive aspect of good surround sound. In particular, if you’re doing an Atmos or DTS-X demo point out that sound objects may be located at various places in the sound field including at different heights and places
  4. Be sure to point out that sound is at least half of a great movie experience. They should listen for clear dialogue that’s properly positioned, immersive surround (but they shouldn’t expect to hear the surround speakers all the time), believable special effects and bass that’s articulate but not overpowering (unless the demo includes overpowering bass).
  5. Do the demo and then ask if they heard those things you told them about. If they say “Yes!” you should be on your way to the sale. If they say “No,” try the demo again, perhaps with different demo material. We’ll talk about demo material in the next article.
  6. If they can’t hear what you’re suggesting they listen for, we’d suggest you consider upgrading the performance of your demo system. And/or give up on selling that particular client a high quality sound system.

In the next go-round, we’ll think about how to show off movie sound. In part three, we’ll examine the best music to use for your demo (there’s an internal debate surrounding that one). Stay tuned.