How to overcome the demo bottleneck


Author: Gilad Avidan
Last updated: Published:

Hi, everybody, and welcome to Demo HQ Day. This is the third time that we're doing an event like this. And the wonderful thing about this event is not only that we can bring together some of the top people in our industry and hear your ideas bouncing off each other, but also that we can see how we're thinking about demos as evolving and maturing over time.

And over the past couple of years, we've been seeing a major trend. Which was that we're moving from scaling conversation to an efficiency conversation. How can we do more with less resources? And we're expected to get the same or even better results with much less resources.

How can we accomplish something like that? And how does it relate to demos? When we started talking about demos and efficiency with our friends at different companies, we discovered something very important, which we call the demo bottleneck. So what is a demo bottleneck? The demo bottleneck is what we call it when.

You have to do a demo to move a deal forward.

You, of course, absolutely need to do it. It could be to build trust or answer questions or even for discovery and your seller wants to schedule a demo call, but for whatever reason they're blocked. Either it takes too much time to prepare a demo or schedule a presales engineer or maybe the demo itself just doesn't do, it can't do what you want it to do and we're getting into a situation where we have a lot of sellers waiting in line for presales or even sometimes for R&D to get demos ready and deliver them.

And it might be that the demo environment is too cumbersome, it's too slow. Maybe, your presales team is overworked. I know that's pretty common these days. Usually it's a combination of those two things. So let's get started learning about it and dealing with it.

And to do that I'm going to ask you to imagine today that you're a CRO. Even if you're not, and I'm definitely not a CRO. But even if you're not I think I, we could argue that you need to sometimes to think like one. So you can help your company reach your goals. So if we're a CRO what is our job in the simplest terms?

I would say get more revenue. And so how do we go about doing something like that? So we look at, let's look at our sales funnel. This is like a simplified version of, I'm sure that all of you guys have something like this. And each deal goes through a series of stages and each stage takes some time and then the deal either goes to the next stage or gets closed, lost or disqualified or so every stage takes a certain amount of time and it converts to the next stage at a certain rate.

If we're a CRO what we do is we go through each stage and we try to make it faster. And we try to make it convert more. So we come up with ideas and then we do them. We measure them and then we iterate, we do it again. And of course it's hard to do this without tools. And so there's a bunch of tools that I'm sure you're familiar with.

And each one of those tools, you can think about it like. It helps us optimize a certain part of the process. Okay, so now that we have this framework, let's get back to the demo. Where does the demo fit into this? Where does the demo show up in this funnel? And it turns out that, usually it's somewhere here.

Either you do it in marketing or at the beginning of the sales process or deep within, or even a POC is a sort of a demo. Usually you have even more than one. And let's try to think of the demo from the CRO's perspective. So number one, it's something that we have to do. To be honest, if I'm a CRO, I'd rather skip it. Why not close the deal without the hassle of doing a demo?

It's complicated. It requires a lot of people, a lot of resources, it slows everything down, but can we close the deal without it? Probably not. So we have to do it. And number two it's something that we don't as sales really control who controls a demo, who prepares it. It's usually Presales and the product is built by our R&D and product and it has certain limitations.

These aren't like our people, it's not people in our organization and it's not clear what we can do to really change the demo or improve the operation around it too much. So somewhere in the deal, the buyer is sitting through a call with one of our reps. Probably there's an SE there also and is getting a demo and again, probably more than one. And, we've spoken to hundreds of different companies about their demo. Rarely, if ever do we hear, Oh, the demo is just great. It's super fast. We can show everything. Everything is great. Move on. Usually when we talk to people about the demo, you hear some pretty common complaints.

So the first one is that SEs, it takes a long time to prepare a demo, like hours, sometimes days and that, it brings your customer acquisition cost way up. You have to have a team of presales all day long. What they're doing is they're preparing demos again and again, just doing that stuff.

Not even doing what SEs are best at, which is. Creating that technical alignment around the deal and understanding the needs and doing technical discovery and all of that [00:05:00] stuff. All the preparing demos. That's something that really brings the cost up. And then, the other thing is that if it takes hours to prepare a demo then, it could take weeks to schedule a demo.

It could take, you want to schedule a demo, a seller wants to do it tomorrow, but now you can't, it takes 10 days. And, time kills all deals, it lowers your velocity. During those 10 days, somebody loses budget, somebody gets fired, who knows what's gonna happen. And the third thing is, that's pretty common, is that we have a demo environment, but the data there, the content there is either stale, all the dates are old, or the content is irrelevant.

We know that Boeing wants to see a certain something in the demo, we, the demo, we just can't do it, or we can't do it in time. And that, Leads to low conversion and low conversion. That's deep in the funnel. So it's an expensive low conversion, right? Because we already spent so much time and money on this deal.

And now we're showing the second or the third demo after months of working on this deal. And now they're not engaged with the demo because it's just not, it doesn't have the stuff that we needed to have. And the bottom line here is, it's low efficiency. We're losing deals.

We're losing revenue and it's taking us an awful lot of time just by doing manual work by some pretty expensive and overworked people. So how are we going to solve this? If I'm a CRO, what do I do to solve this? I would think okay, so who's in charge of the demo? It's our presales engineers.

Let's go to the head of presales and ask them. Let's ask them, how can we make it so that we can schedule a demo a day after the intro call? And they'll say it takes six hours to prepare it. So no, get in line. Or you can ask, I don't know. Walgreens really needs to see how we use the reports feature or whatever, because that's their pain point.

But for some reason, we just can't make the demo do that. Maybe it can't just, it can't be set up in time. So then your seller is stuck, dealing with it, showing whatever they can or selling around it. What if competition can show it? Walgreens is probably looking at a lot of vendors.

If they can show it and you can't. Maybe that's like the thing that tips the scale in their favor. Or, let's make it super simple. Can we even measure how much time it takes to schedule a demo? Does it take three days? Does it take 10 days? Is it actually a problem or how often, does a presales person even need to be in one?

It's very difficult to measure these things. And the answer to these questions in our experience is typically one of two things. And, at least traditionally, it's one of two things. The first answer is just, let's just get more presales people. This would be the answer in 2021, in 2022 even.

Let's get more presales, hire them and train them. And then the line is shorter because you just have a bunch of people that are doing this all day long. But, in 2024, is that happening? Can I go to my CEO and ask for, And more presales people just so we can do demos faster.

Probably not. And then the other thing is, oh, we want to make the demo better. Great. Let's go to who builds the product and R&D. Let's go to them and ask them to prioritize it. And is R&D going [00:08:00] to prioritize like demo automation? I know our R&D is super busy building features and supporting customers.

So you're like not really. Sales is left alone here and to fend for themselves. And why is that? Why can't we build a product that's easy to demo? Think about your product for your company. Why isn't it easier to demo it? And why that's, it's not, we don't think it's a problem that's going to get better.

And the reason it's not getting better is because when you have your product, you have your product roadmap kind of pulling it aside. That's what the company is working on and the product roadmap. You're adding functionality, you want it to work well, you want it to be secure, you want the data to be accurate, and that's like sometimes it's not only different from the demo roadmap, like for the demo, you don't want it to be secure, you want every everybody to be able to access it and see it, you don't need like accurate data, you just want it to show like a sales spike every time or one, one deal of each type, just idealize data.

And you don't want it to be functional. You don't want to send a hundred reps to a functional product demo where they can click on something and maybe it does something destructive. You want it to be non functional. You want it to be safe. And those things are even diametrically opposed from each other.

Never mind that there's no time to work on the demo stuff. It's sometimes just the opposite of where the product is going. And the weight of transforming the product into something that's a workable demo. It's usually on presales who again, are already overworked. So if product and R&D aren't going to solve it for us, they might for a bit but over time, the gap is going to grow again.

So what do we do and what do we do in 2024? To solve this demo bottleneck. So let's talk about that today. And the good news is that you're not alone. This is a problem that basically every B2B SaaS company at least is facing and is dealing with all the time. And especially You know when presales teams are even more stressed out in this market it's something that's pretty common.

So let's talk about the sessions today. In the first session Laura, Todd, and Brent are going to explore how CROs and Presales can work together to tackle the demo bottleneck in 2024. And we're going to hear some really interesting insights from them. I'm really excited about that session then the second panel focusing on using demos to advance deals how to explore, innovative approaches like product tours and sandbox demos with insights from sales and Presales leaders.

Some of these guys are working with download stacks. Some of them are not. It's going to be a really interesting kind of a deep dive kind of conversation that's going to be really interesting. And then, finally, Jonathan, my co-founder and CEO of Demostack, is going to address the demo landscape that's really shifting and the push for showing product earlier buyers want to see the product super early.

How do we show the product early in the sales cycle? Really interesting today. Really interesting stuff.

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