How to build a progressive demo


Author: Brenna Lilly
Last updated: Published:
Last December, Samsung published a study saying that the attention span of young people has dropped by 33% since 2000. So if you’re a sales rep who’s finding it tough to hook, captivate, and engage your prospects — know that you’re not alone.

Decision overload is a challenge for everyone these days.

Our human minds were not designed to keep up with the fast pace of our calendars, agendas, and inboxes.

As a sales leader, the ball is in your court to help your audiences see important signals in a world of noise.

Enter the progressive demo, a technique for utilizing your product throughout all customer-facing channels.

The idea is to move audiences through a storytelling journey, from beginning to end of a sales cycle.

With progressive demos, you can move information-overloaded audiences along a guided journey.

3 simple steps to build a progressive demo strategy

Step 1: Get Key Data Points Before You Get in Touch

In your first outreach with a prospect — whether you’re sending a cold email or responding to an inbound lead — gather data about the person you’re contacting.

This process involves syncing with marketing to collect data, researching insight that’s publicly available, or learning more about the individual and their company.

You can ask your marketing team for “micro-demos” — existing product marketing communications that provide a preview into your product.

This data will equip you with insight regarding your audience’s mindset. With this clear picture, you can bring a greater degree of empathy and pain point understanding to your first conversation.

Key focus: Establish a hypothesis around your prospect’s biggest pain points and desired use case.

Step 2: Host a Discovery Demo

Using the insights you’ve gathered in step 1, build the first iteration of your demo. With this resource in-hand, your first meeting will function as a facilitator of discovery questions and discussions rather than a presentation.

With this collaborative approach, you’ll build a heightened degree of trust with your prospect, off the bat — you’ll show that you care about solving an underlying problem rather than selling a product.

At this stage, keep in mind that your prospects are just beginning to wrap their minds around your product. A discovery demo is the first step to finding alignment and establishing tactical value. The goal is to gather insights to inform subsequent conversations.

Key focus: Tailor the first full demo to the precise use case and pain points, with a focus on discovery questions.

Step 3: Deliver Progressively Tailored Demos — Until the Deal Closes

Successful business relationships are built on trust, camaraderie, and clear communication. It will likely take more than one discussion, incorporating multiple stakeholders, to arrive at a shared basis of understanding.

As your conversations progress, you’ll gather more insights. With every new demo, there’s an opportunity to incorporate more data-driven personalization.

Your goal is to repeat your discovery demos until you close the deal or are able to share a proof of concept that is perfectly tailored to get the deal won.

Key focus: Continue to leverage micro demos and tailored discovery demos to drive activation, retention, and expansion conversions.

Tying It All Together

With the right planning and clear communication, progressive demos will take pressure off your sales reps.

The goal is to rely on your product and customer to steer the conversation — to democratize dialogue rather than creating perfect pitch.

Progressive demos are about listening, learning, and adapting. Each conversation is an opportunity to get closer to alignment.

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