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How to give a demo that doesn't suck (and shorten your sales cycle in the process)

September 3, 2021
Most sales reps know how to give a good demo - or so it may seem. What they don't always realize is that the demo they're giving might be hurting their chances of closing the deal, no matter how polished it may feel. So what's the issue? 

How can good presentations still only lead to average close ratios between 15-30%?

Let's dig into the research.

Focus on solving a single problem

Is it time? Money? Efficiency?

Most prospects agree to the demo because there is a chance you can solve their problems, not to get pitched a features tour.

In fact, a study by the Sales Insights Lab, found that only 7% of top-performing salespeople report "pitching" their prospects. Whereas 19% of non-top performers say they pitch.

sales-lab-insights.jpg

"Instead, [top-performers] are engaging prospects in conversations. They’re digging into prospects’ challenges. They’re engaging them as an advisor, as an expert in their industry, as opposed to just saying, 'Hey, here’s what we’ve got. Look at all the cool items and features and benefits that we have.'” 

In another report by Hubspot, it was found there was a massive discrepancy between what salespeople wanted to discuss vs what buyers actually wanted during the first sales call.

The top three responses were:

  • Pricing (buyers 58%, sellers 23%)
  • How the product works [demo] (buyers 54%, sellers 23%)
  • What the company wants to achieve with the purchase (buyers 47%, sellers 65%)
Sales-Disconnect.jpg

In fact, the only instance where salespeople and buyers were even close to being on the same page was "advice on how similar organizations have used the product successfully" and even this wasn't close (buyers 44%, sellers 33%)

Prepare different discovery questions for different buyers.

The second step is to research the prospects online.

Researching a prospect's company includes, but is not limited to:

  • The title of the person on the other side of the call
  • The software they may currently be using
  • Common challenges people with that title might have with that software

Given that the research indicates that over half of buyers want to see the product sooner, and want to know how similar organizations have used the product successfully, this allows the seller to better tailor their questions to that prospect type, and have basic use cases on hand for when the prospect asks a question they've been primed for. 

Ask open-ended questions that align with where your prospect is in the buyer’s journey.

Going back to Sales Insight Lab’s research, it was found that 51% of top-performers report themselves "being seen as experts in their field" while only 37% of non-top performers see themselves as experts.

"What’s more, top performers were less likely to be seen as vendors (8% of top performers vs. 24% of non-top performers) or even as salespeople (7% of top performers vs. 20% of non-top performers)."

This is an important distinction because having an innate knowledge of the product, the prospect, and the problem your software solves allows you to ask open-ended questions that are aligned to where that prospect is at in the customer journey.

And just as a quick refresher on the steps in the customer journey, at least as it relates to people who agree to get on a call:

Problem aware

Prospect senses there is a problem but doesn’t know there’s a solution

Solution aware

They know the solution they’re looking for, but not that your product provides it

Product aware

They know what you sell, but aren’t sure if it’s right for them.

Most aware

They know who you are and what you do, they just want to know “the deal”

Anecdotally speaking, asking the right open-ended questions that align with where the prospect is within the journey is what separates "salespeople" from "expert" since it shines through that you're tuned into the problems they're having at this exact moment.

Highlight features specific to their use case.

Returning to the Hubspot research, buyers say the best ways to create a positive selling experience are:

  • Listen to their needs (69%)
  • Don't be pushy (61%)
  • Provide relevant information (61%)

Listening and providing relevant information is consistent with the rest of the high-level tips suggestions given here, but it applies doubly so when actually diving into the product itself.

"Really, I only care about solving one or two things, but I'm forced to go through an entire feature list, and by the time I'm asked 'do you have any questions?' I've either forgotten the question I had in mind, or I've zoned out for so long, I'm just looking forward to getting off of the call." - Every software buyer ever.

Get the product into their hands sooner.

Remember how Hubspot found 54% of buyers report wanting to know how the product works by getting a demo on the first call?

That’s because most of them don’t want to deal with their problem for another year.

James Obermayer,  now Senior Vice President of Cable One, studied the sales cycle of many companies over his career, and coined the term "The Rule of 45"

Consistently, he’s found:

  • 10%-15% of B2B prospects will buy someone’s product in the first three months
  • 26% will buy within 6 months 
  • And a full 45% of prospects will have finalized their purchase within the year


The Rule of 45

The-law-of-45.jpg


And yet, additional research shows, most sales people give up.

“When emails or phone calls are ignored, 44% of salespeople give up after just 1 attempt, and only 8% of salespeople follow-up more than 5 times.”

I’d propose that a great deal of emails and phone calls are ignored simply because prospects want to “play” with the software sooner, and can’t, at least not with a significant commitment from both buyer and seller.

Traditionally, this has been a trial period, where deals go to die. 

But there’s a better way. 

Demostack helps you get your product into your customers hands faster - without the need for a trial

Create a carbon copy of your product in a demo environment that looks and acts just like the real thing, and tailor the data to tell the story that best suits your prospect. 

When you share that demo environment, prospects can explore the product in a way that’s beyond a linear tour, without getting lost. Plus, it saves you a whole lot of resources to get a trial up and running, and connected to their other apps. 

Curious to see how it works? Book a demo to see Demostack in action.