The many flavors of demos: Part 2


Author: Nathan Easom

In the first part of our series, "The many flavors of demos," we delved into the five essential types of product demonstrations every salesperson should master. But as you progress in your sales journey and start speaking with top management, it's important to know that there are other demo variations that can give you an edge.

In this second installment, I'll uncover those secret weapons and show you how to use them to impress even the most discerning executive.

Executive demo — Early stage

Imagine your outbound SDR books you a meeting with a C Suite executive.

Awesome, right? The problem is this can also turn into a real “Oh shit“ type of call if you aren’t prepared.

Most of the executives I’ve encountered have that Type-A personalities who reject any small talk, give you clipped answers, and want you to immediately get to the point. Think: “What can you do for us“ or “Show me what you have, and I’ll tell you if it’s relevant.“

In short, execs have no time to waste. If you‘re not razor-sharp and tenacious in your approach, they’ll move on to your competitor.

In these situations, I predominantly focus on addressing why we do what you do when doing an executive demo. But let’s get one thing straight: execs don’t care how you do discovery.

Chris Orlob shared some great insights into this “Reps want to do discovery. Buyers want to see the product” dilemma on LinkedIn.

In his LinkedIn post, Chris categorizes the “want to see the product“ buyers into two buckets: one who is deep in the “research mode“ and wants more ideas to clarify their situation and the other who is well into a sales cycle with some other company.

He advises engaging the former and qualifying the latter. “If your prospect falls into the first bucket, there’s no reason not to align yourself with where they are. Play give and take. You don’t want to be a stickler about “never demo before discovery” if you do it this way.”

Chris’ ultimate game plan to take the conversation further? Play tug-of-war.

“I’ll show you 1-2 bits and pieces of what we do at a time to expand your ideas of what’s possible. Then I’d ask a couple of questions about your situation. There’s a lot of food for thought I can add. We’ll repeat that theme throughout,” Chris told a prospect in the research phase.

This is an excellent, inclusive approach to discovery and demos. Most prospects view demos as a finite, one-and-one thing — but with the ‘Disco-demo’ approach, you can leverage the executive demo to do discovery in the early stage.

That doesn’t mean you should go into the meeting unprepared. You’ll want to know:

  • What was specifically said that prompted the executive to take the meeting?
  • What problems were touched on by the BDR?
  • What do we know about the executive and their priorities?
  • What do they say on LinkedIn about themselves or their experience?
  • What do we know about the company’s priorities?

If you still haven’t uncovered anything meaningful in your research, I recommend giving the executive the time back and avoiding putting yourself on the firing line.

Executive demo — Late stage

While we’re still on executive demos, understand this demo flavor has another variation: the late stage.

Late-stage executive demos come at the bottom of the funnel.

Here’s the setting — the team wants your product; the organization has the budget to buy your product; you’ve run an impressive sales cycle. The only hurdle is the decision-making executive who “wants to gather their head around” your product (what it is and how it will help).

At this point, you’re probably tempted to run the same demo that got your champion excited. But that shouldn’t be the case.

Until this point, your main objective was to solidify your brand reputation and make your client confident in their decision to finalize the deal. However, it’s dangerous to assume the executive would also care about the same things as your champion.

You should have a sense going into the meeting to what extent the executive will be making the decision based on their colleague’s recommendation.

Can the executive veto the decision based on what they see? Do they have prior experience using technology similar to your product? If yes, is it good or bad? After purchasing your product, will the executive be using your product hands-on?

You should know the answers to — or at least have a fair idea of — these questions.

In my experience, an executive’s biggest concern is adoption. They want an answer to the “Will my team even use the product?” question. It’s why your executive demo for the later stage should focus on making the product feature-rich but user-friendly.

Focus on the features the client’s team will likely use. Highlight the ease of navigation and how quickly workflows will be completed. Enable them to visualize your product within their current environment.

BeanCounter demo

The BeanCounter demo comes out when you’ve got procurement or a financially-minded economic buyer, such as a CFO, involved in the demo meeting. Chances are that this person won’t care much about what you do as much as the financial aspect of the deal.

Unless you’re selling a financial product, your demo won’t likely show much of the product and instead focus on use cases. Think: “What we’ve heard/Why we’re doing this” or “How we do with this better/differently than our competitors.”

Maybe you would even include numbers and analytics or case studies that speak to the return.

But assuming every CFO or a similar person won’t be interested in seeking your product is a mistake.

Take Demostack’s Dave Wieseneck, for example. He takes a hands-on approach for every software purchase we make at the company, wanting to understand the tool and not just the business case.

Another concern CFOs have is redundancy and wastage. Is the tool going to become more “shelfware“? Or does it have the potential to work with existing tools to do the job?

With the BeanCounter demo, you can make your CFO client see value in your product. Think of it as a “Day in their life“ demo that addresses their objections and concerns — creates a problem-and-use-case scenario.

These demos are the most common types of demos. It's why I think most account executives working at SaaS companies should prioritize knowing and running each one to impress clients and close deals faster.

Don't miss Part 3 of our series to deep dive into technical demos.

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