The many flavors of demos: Part 1


Author: Nathan Easom
Last updated: Published:

During Demostack’s Storytelling Tour, our Head of Storytelling, Nick Capozzi found most B2B SaaS sales leaders struggle to distill big ideas into bite-sized takeaways, which resulted in disjointed storytelling.

As an enterprise account executive, I second this.

Part of the issue is understanding what type of demo should be delivered at each stage of the buyer journey. Traditionally speaking, you can choose between giving a standard demo or a technical demo, but I think this is a very broad-level approach.

Based on my own experiences, I found product demonstrations have many nuances that, if understood well, can help you close more deals faster. I present to you a three-part series on the many flavors of demos.

Read on to learn different types of demos as simply as possible. No BS, I promise.

Marketing demo

The marketing demo is one you put on your website to facilitate top-of-the-funnel lead generation. By adding that “Get demo“ button, you give buyers what they want: a freaking demo!

Outbound BDRs can use these self-guided demos as part of their prospecting efforts to create awareness and spark interest. On the other hand, software companies selling a high-volume, low-price product use it as part of their product-led “try before you buy“ approach.

James Gilbert, CMO at Flip, agrees companies shouldn’t be confined to forcing customers down a path that doesn’t work for anyone without a way too fast track. “Always provide a way to fast track. Always provide a way for customers to avoid the norm,” he says.

I couldn’t agree more.

As a salesperson, I’ve worked for several sales leaders who would bite my head off if I showed a demo before at least two delivery calls. In my experience, following the “Disco demo” approach worked best as I showed the prospect what they came for right away — and the “Give to get” method involves showing the product to get more information.

With a marketing demo, you’ll get more qualified leads who find value in your product, helping boost sales.

In fact, I make a point of sending a short demo intro even before speaking to the prospect so that they know what to expect when scheduling a meeting.

Quick tip: Use a tool like Demostack to provide prospects with guided click-through demos — or you can use a simple product-led video. Just don’t show prospects those animated cartoon videos with actor-led voiceovers as your demo.

Intro demo

The intro demo, as the name suggests, is usually run by SDRs to give prospects a quick taste of the product and what it can do for them. But here’s another interesting fact: even full-cycle AEs can use the demo to make a strong first impact if they haven’t yet had time to do the desired amount of discovery.

What sets it apart from other demos is instead of being feature-driven, the intro demo is a solution-focused story.

A great tactic here is, in Chris White’s words, to lead with the outcome.

Give your prospect an idea visually or virtually of what your product is trying to achieve at the high level — and show a couple of high-level concepts that get them there.

The key to this is driving enough curiosity and intrigue without giving too much away or boring the prospect who is looking for an idea of what your product does. Your goal is to tell the story in under five minutes, so it doesn’t sacrifice discovery time — but still gets the prospect hooked.

Personally, I love these demos at Demostack.

To run a personalized demo and get that “magic moment“ that makes the prospect sign on the dotted line, I need access to the prospect’s own software. But the prospect is rarely open to giving access (and understandably so!) unless they know more about your product, which is what the intro demo helps with.

Orientation demo

The orientation demo is the longer, deeper version of the intro demo.

Every software has nuanced values and differentiators. And while you do want to point out what makes your offering a cut above the rest in explicit terms, if you go too deep too quickly into your product, your prospect will end up feeling confused.

This was a huge problem I faced during my time at Gong. I was a trained salesperson and wanted to go deep into the more advanced features, but if the prospect didn’t understand the basic functionality — how we could record, transcribe, and analyze their calls — all my talk about analytics or Deal Boards would sound like a foreign language.

Think about it: the prospect hasn’t really grasped the basics of your platform, so why overwhelm them with the technicalities?

With the orientation demo, you hit the sweet spot; you can give the prospect enough details about your product as briefly as possible.

Problem-centric or use-case demo

When talking about demos, most software sellers mean giving a problem-centric or use case demo, which makes sense considering they’re longer demos that specifically address your buyer’s problems.

This also means you need to personalize and customize these demos with meaningful data, images, videos, and text to make your prospect feel they “already own the tool.“

But let’s be real. You can’t always have a personalized problem-centric solution available — or make one from scratch — for every prospect who expresses interest. That’s where use case demos come into the picture.

At Demostack, I’ve created different demos for different use cases, including one for shortening sales cycles by reducing the number of POCs, one for helping ramp up new AEs to run demos self-sufficiently and cut down the time to first deal, and another for removing friction for our inbound prospects and improve top of funnel lead generation.

The idea is to recognize the most common use cases for your sales team, and accordingly create a demo that addresses problems relevant to that specific use case.

"Day in The Life" demo

If your prospect is a technical expert or subject matter expert of your platform, you can’t show them generalized stuff. They’re experts, after all.

Instead, you can show them the "Day in The Life" demo that addresses their questions concerning adoption and provides answers to “How will this fit into our current tech stack or processes?

The demo focuses on your product’s features and functionality the prospect will use regularly. It also serves as a great demo story; your procurement team can see the "Day in the Life" demo to understand the nuances of the problem being solved — or put themselves in the role of the user so they can imagine and visualize their team using the tool.

Check out Part 2 if you're wondering how to talk to the big guns, a.k.a the stakeholders and decision-makers.

Tell us about yourself

Tell us about yourself so we can show you a demo on the first call

Hand holding screenshots of an application