The anatomy of great demos that win deals


Author: Michelle Bonsu
Last updated: Published:

What makes a demo great? Is it personalization? Icebreakers? A comprehensive product story? Can a “great demo” even be quantified? As it turns out, yes.

An analysis of 67,149 sales demos conducted by Gong revealed that successful demos follow a specific structure.

The Anatomy of a Winning Sales Demo from Sales Hacker

The four-act structure consists of:

  • A contextual overview
  • The upside down demo
  • Accelerated interaction, and
  • Wrap up

Combined, these acts make up the anatomy of sales demos that sell.

Below, we’ll explore the four-act structure Gong’s research has revealed, along with other data to help you create better demo experiences.

Act 1: Provide prospects with context that resonates

Research from Dun & Bradstreet states that 67% of buyers in the B2B space list "relevant communication" as a top influence for choosing one solutions provider over another. 

The key to crafting an engaging story that integrates discovery insights is by creating a personalized demo experience.

CXL reinforces the importance of storytelling in their blog post The Science of Storytelling & Memory and The Impact on CRO. According to CXL, customers consume a myriad of messages and can only recall a handful of them. In order to stand out, marketers must create content suited for each stage of the memory-making process. Sales teams can leverage this insight by incorporating custom storytelling elements into demos.

To achieve this, make a list of key information you learned about your audience during the discovery and research phase and leverage that within the demo. Here are some tips for providing contextual information to prospects:

  • What should your audience take away from the demo? Define the big picture goal and make sure you articulate a clear path for prospects to meet this goal.
  • Every good story establishes an issue that requires a solution. Prospects don’t agree to demos without a problem. Take this as an opportunity to highlight your prospect’s problems, needs, and buyer’s journey.

Act 2: Begin your demo by showing end results

Upon analyzing 67,000+ SAAS demos, Gong discovered that discussing end results at the beginning of demos fare better with prospects.

Starting with a company overview, reading through an agenda, and clicking through workflow is the fastest way to lose prospects’ attention. Break the mold and talk solutions first. How will your software benefit the business and solve their current problems? How will their state of affairs improve with your product?

Use the information you learned during discovery to sell solutions. According to HubSpot, “solution selling is a sales methodology where a salesperson holistically considers a prospect's needs, so they can recommend specific products or services that will best accommodate their individual problems and concerns.”

Solution selling is deeper than simply listing product benefits. It appeals to a prospect’s emotions. And emotions get remembered.

Open the conversation with a real-life situation that prospects are dealing with to relate and capture their attention. Then, outline how your software fills in gaps from their current to future state. When discussing end results, remember to stick with your prospect’s issues and don’t deviate from the main scope of the demo.

Act 3: Transition from presentation to in-depth dialogue

The goal of a demo is to engage prospects to the point of winning deals. Engaged customers ask questions and have a back-and-forth dialogue. Gong’s research states that during successful demos, “speaker switches per minute” increase by 36% during the second half of the call.

This means that to increase win rates of demos, sales teams must transition from pitch to conversation as the demo progresses. You can facilitate in-depth dialogue by actively listening to prospects during discovery. According to Forbes, active listening is an excellent technique that requires listeners to thoroughly absorb, understand, respond, and retain what’s being said.

Have you paid attention to your audience’s needs? Do you understand their challenges and pain points? These questions show that you’re listening to potential clients and when people feel listened to, they are more likely to see the value in your business and engage accordingly.

Expect prospects to ask questions about the demo and how your product can specifically address their needs. Take this as a chance to weave in open-ended questions that give further insight into their pain points and how your software will best address their concerns.

It creates a foundation for potential customers to dig deeper and encourage dialogue that addresses logistics and details.

Act 4: Wrap it up and discuss next steps

By this stage, you’ve provided prospects with information tailored to their needs, jumped into how your software resolves pain points and engaged in a two-sided dialogue. All you need to do now is wrap up and discuss next steps.

Enter pricing.

In a successful demo, pricing is brought up within the 38 and 46-minute mark of a call. Unsuccessful demos, on the other hand, spend 8% more time talking about price. attributes the extra time to not simplifying price explanations. 

Increase your demo win rate by providing a clear pricing structure and by developing a script to discuss price efficiently and effectively. Here are some other tips on discussing pricing:

  • Make sure you demonstrate value before talking money. This makes prospects more willing to consider your deal.
  • Provide an additional document that outlines pricing before closing the call.
  • Address follow-up questions and explain, rather than sell.

After pricing, it’s time to discuss next steps. A successful demo spends 3.33 minutes on next steps. If you transition from presentation to in-depth dialogue in stage three, discussions will organically lead to a longer next-step conversation.

During this step, discuss how you and the client can move the project along. Listen to what your prospect requires from you before moving forward. Perhaps they need approval from C-level executives or want to consult IT. Don’t pressure prospects and offer to schedule a follow-up meeting if they need to involve additional stakeholders.

Finally, prepare a reference sheet that includes meeting insights and reiterates your solution to their unique problems.

After credits: Follow-up with your prospect

People are busy and sometimes, they need a little nudge to get the ball rolling. Remember to follow up with prospects after the demo as it takes 2-3 follow-up emails to increase your chances of getting a response.

Before crafting your email, review your research. Take note of the prospect’s current issues and additional problems they mentioned during the demo. Use this as the basis for your follow-up. Then, outline objectives based on the prospect’s needs. In the email, make sure to repeat their pain points and emphasize how your product will solve their problem and move them from current to future state.

Lastly, be consistent and genuine with your emails. If the deal doesn’t close within that moment, it’s okay. By following up, you remain top of mind with prospects and they’re more likely to reach out when they’re ready to close the deal.

The most surefire way of creating great demos that win deals is by using reliable software that not only builds trust with prospects but also facilitates discussion and builds insights faster.

Great demos win deals. Find out how Demostack helps SaaS revenue teams accelerate growth with custom demos at scale.

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