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Evaluating product demo software? Here’s what to look for

September 20, 2021
We’re officially in the era of sales tech mayhem.

According to Gartner, the latest on the table are demo experience platforms that make it easier for SEs and AEs to demonstrate product value by enabling them to show a demo environment that’s customized to the prospect’s exact needs.

Product storytelling is critical to show value to a buyer. Unfortunately, 90% of the demos used to tell these stories are disjointed, self-serving, and just… bleh.

A demo experience tool changes this by helping sales teams:

  • Tailor their product stories on every call to cater to prospect’s needs 
  • Minimize time and resource investment required to keep demos up to date
  • Empower non-technical team members to create custom demos without R&D

The end result? You give better demos at scale. This is a game-changer for revenue acceleration, sales productivity, and win rates.

Depending on your use case, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to how a demo tool can help accelerate revenue. Here are nine questions you should consider in the buying process.

1. How close is your demo to the real product experience?

You want your product demo to feel as close as possible to the live product.

A demo experience tool makes it easier to create high fidelity demos to give your prospect the full product experience—animations, pop-up windows, tool tips, the whole shabang. 

You want it to feel like the real thing. You don’t want product screenshots, which are time-consuming and restrict user experience to a linear flow through your product. 

This works well for a marketing use case, but when it comes to the live demo, can you really replace your demo environment with a guided tour through a handful of product screenshots? Of course not.

Platforms that use a browser extension to “record“ your product likely fall into this category. Avoid them if you don’t want to end up with a limited demo (nevermind the security risks of using a browser extension). Instead, look for a demo experience tool with robust recording capabilities that captures the full functionality of your product. 

You don’t need a fancier PowerPoint. You need a product demo tool.

2. Are you restricted to a linear flow?

Some software companies' platforms these days are embedding linear flows on their website to show their product to potential buyers and help them understand how it works.

While this might work for product marketers, it’s not viable for a live demo—or when a prospect wants to dig a little deeper into how your product solves their pain points. 

What happens when your prospect questions you about an element that isn’t a part of a linear product tour?.

Postponing because you can’t click and show them what they want wastes time and makes you look unprepared.

In these circumstances, you want to provide flexible, interactive experiences that can veer outside a strict flow. A good demo experience tool should allow you to pivot and dig in deep without restrictions—it should feel like the real product, not a forced linear tour.

3. How long does it take to record your product?

Time is incredibly precious—both yours and your prospect’s. 

Your demo environment must be up to date with new product releases, which is why you need to know how long a prospective demo experience tool takes to record your product and create a copy in a demo environment. If it’s too time-consuming, you’ll be showcasing outdated tech. More on that later.

Don’t get us wrong; any of these tools will save you time, but some are more efficient than others. Your aim is to get the fastest and most reliable solution available.

Interestingly, the recording speed is tied to how comprehensive your demo is.

Many demo experience tools are relatively fast to “record” your product. But whatever time they save is lost since the recording output is screenshots that must be linked together manually. In fact, you ultimately spend more time on each demo you create or update because of this extra step.

Plus, you’ll also need thorough quality assurance since there’s more room for error in manual work, which is again time-consuming.

Then imagine doing that every time your product gets updated. More on that later.

With tools like this, you’re crafting a demo asset piece by piece by linking together screenshots until it’s ready to show. 

In contrast, the best demo experience tools have deeper recording capabilities that allow you to automatically pull in all that functionality. Tools like Demostack allow you to basically import your entire product into a demo environment. You get a demo that looks and acts like the real thing without extra manual effort on your part.

Pretty awesome, right?

4. How easy is it to tailor the demo?

Replicating your product into a demo environment is only one part of the job. Customizing the demo so it resonates better with your prospect is the other, which is where the art of tailoring your pitch comes into the picture.

A good tool should make it easier for you to create demo stories by vertical or client persona and then tailor that story to make it laser-focused on their use case. For instance, you may split your demos into SMB, Mid Market, and Enterprise, or you may split them into retail, financial services, and healthcare. 

If you’re pitching Hubspot, you can plug in Brian Halligan and add Hubspot throughout to give your Hubspot contacts a highly customized version so they can picture themselves using and getting value from your product.

Demostack empowers you to edit and customize your product demos effortlessly with its Search and Replace and Variables tools.

Continuing with our previous example, you can use Search and Replace to change all instances of “ACME Inc“ in the demo to “Hubspot“—all in a single click. 

Variables take things a step further by letting you replace all instances of “ACME Inc'' with “{{companyname}}“. Your reps can then plug in Hubspot (or any other company they’re pitching) into the {{companyname}} variable, without ever going into the editor.

5. Can you keep your demo up-to-date with new product releases?

Keeping your demos up-to-date with new product releases is one of the trickiest parts of a demo environment, especially if you’re using one that’s built internally. 

You want demo maintenance to be as simple as possible, so you’re not stuck demoing outdated versions of your tech.

Mass edits are important (we've already covered Search and Replace above), but if you have a new product release and need to update your recording, have you considered how you can ensure your reps only use the updated demo version?

This is where a hierarchy comes in. Think of this as editing demos as a global element vs. a local element or a master template vs. one version that came out of the template.

Suppose you add a new feature to your product and want to add that element into the demo without starting from scratch. You should edit the original recording without starting over every time your product team rolls out a new release.

To reiterate, look for a demo tool that lets you make changes to the master demo and have the edits trickle down, rather than being restricted to editing those elements locally.

6. Can you share the demo as leave-behind?

If you want to turn the prospect into your internal champion (News Flash: you do!), focus on shareability.

When you share a demo environment after presenting it on a live demo, your prospect can gain internal buy-in with relevant stakeholders. This makes them look good in front of their colleagues—and when you make them the hero, everyone wins. When they’re engaging with a leave-behind, your deal is also more likely to close - which means you can get a more accurate forecast of what’s coming. Plus, you can track insights on who’s viewing what, but more on that later.

This helps you get your product in your customer’s hands faster, shortening the sales cycle and accelerating revenue. 

7. Can your demo environment replace the need for a trial?

Let’s face it: the trial is where deals go to die.

Trials take additional resources to set up and have to be connected with your buyer’s existing system to work. Then they need enough data for the buyer to understand how they’ll get value out of your product. Otherwise, they’ll be lost in your product in no time.

That’s why it’s crucial to consider whether or not your demo can replace the need for a trial.

When you share a demo that allows prospects to play around in a sandbox of sorts—one that has relevant and adequate data to help prospects envision using your product with their existing systems—without spending resources on setting up the trial and connecting systems, you get a huge value add-on to accelerate your deal cycle.

8. What insights do you get?

Sharing the demo environment with your buyer is valuable for two reasons:

  • You get valuable insights that can help you realize the sale
  • Your product gets into the prospect’s hands faster

Before this, you need a demo experience tool that lets you view what, when, and where your prospects spend the most time in the demo environment. This will help you understand what features are most important to the prospect and who else is involved in the decision-making process. 

You can tailor your pitch further using these insights which increases your chances of getting the right people bought in to close the deal. 

Beyond buyer insights, a good demo experience tool should also provide insights on which demos impact your revenue. Which demo stories are leading in the highest win rate? 

What screens are shown the most? Tools like Gong help you understand what was said, but these tools will help you understand what was shown.

 

9. What’s the pricing model?

You want a demo experience tool whose pricing model aligns with your use case. 

If you're looking to roll this out to your entire sales and SE teams, does it really make sense to get billed based on the number of times a demo is viewed?

You shouldn’t be punished for driving a ton of traffic to your demo.

Your best bet is a tool with a user seat-based pricing model. This ensures you get the maximum value out of the tool and are able to scale it effectively. Plus, unlimited views means you can impact more deals without worrying about impression metrics.

Great demos win deals.

You deserve a product that allows you to…

  • Deliver a demo experience as close to the real product as possible
  • Provide flexible, interactive experiences that can veer outside a linear flow
  • Leverage deeper recording capabilities to record demos faster
  • Create tailored demo stories by vertical or client persona 
  • Keep demos up-to-date with new product releases
  • Share a demo environment as leave-behind
  • Replace a product trial
  • Gather valuable insights to tailor your pitches
  • Opt for a user seat-based pricing model

Demostack helps world-class sales orgs win more deals faster with the most robust demo experience tool on the market. Curious to see how it works? 

Book a demo to see Demostack in action.