While all stages of the sales process are important, some are more important than others. For instance, if you fail at prospecting, you get one less lead. If you succeed, you get one more. The trend matters more than any single conversation. But as the sales process progresses, the stakes go higher and higher. By the time you reach the demo stage, succeeding will win you a deal and failing will not only cost you an opportunity but also all the time and money you spend acquiring them.
Now given that, on average, only 6% of opportunities convert into deals, it indicates many salespeople falter around this stage. Even after setting up a demo, the closing rate generally hovers around 20-30%. So what do they miss? And more importantly, what can they do right?
The moment a customer agrees to take a demo, it shows clear buying intent. Then why do almost 3 out of 4 demos fail to convert? The most common reason is, and this is hard to say, salespeople fail to deliver a great demo experience.
What is a Demo?
This might sound like a stupid question to salespeople who have given countless demos, but it is worth pausing here for a moment. How you answer this question actually has a deep bearing on your approach to running demos.
Many salespeople will define a demo as an illustration of any product, its features, and various use cases. It’s a reasonably good definition but has a fatal flaw – it is product-centric. And this is one of the reasons many demos fail to convert into deals.
The customers aren’t interested in what your product can do. They want to know what it can do for them.
In the real world, demos are all about solving problems. How your product can bring value to your customers. It isn’t about how cool your product is but how useful it is for them. For instance, your product might have a great feature, but if the customer has no use case for it, there is no point emphasizing it in a demo.
So if you want to deliver a great demo, you have to get the basic approach right. In that sense, a more meaningful definition of a demo would be: An illustration of how a product fits into the customer’s processes, addresses their pain points, and meets their expectations.
Rule 1: Run a customer-centric demo instead of a product-centric demo.
With that out of the way, let’s now get to the actual process.
Start With Discovery
Generally, a demo is preceded by a discovery call to qualify and score the lead. This call is where you get most of the hints on how you should run the demo. We highly recommend you watch this webinar to learn how to get the most out of your discovery calls.
There might be a long gap between the discovery call and demo, so it is worth taking detailed notes to ensure you have all the information you need.
If the discovery call was taken by someone else, it is worth double-checking some of the basics in your demo call as well. Some of the must-ask questions include:
- How do you currently run your process?
- What’s the biggest bottleneck/pain point?
- What are some features/capabilities you wish you had?
The answers to these questions give a clear understanding of their current state and expectations. If your product can meet any of those expectations or address pain points, that’s where your demo should focus the most.
Rule 2: Set a clear foundation of the customer’s current state and expectations.
Tell Stories, Not Facts
More often than not, demo calls are run as training sessions with repeated phrases like “This is how you do X, and this section is where you’ll find Y,” etc. It’s a classic example of product-based demos we talked about earlier. Instead of focusing on what or how they can do something, emphasize why it should matter to them.
For example, if your software has a security feature, don’t tell them what it is or how it works but instead explain to them why they should have that feature in the first place. If they are interested, they will ask for the details themselves.
Also, every time you start to illustrate a feature, add some value prop beforehand. For example, if in the discovery call they had complained about manual processes and you offer some kind of automation, don’t just say “Hey, you can do this and this and it will automate those tasks.”
Instead, go something like this, “As I understand, your team currently has to do X, Y, and Z tasks manually. For a team of 10, that’s roughly 20-25 hours every week. We have this feature that can automate those tasks and save you all that time. Let me show you how it works.”
The larger point is after they leave, they shouldn’t feel like the call was about the software. It should come across as their solution.
A great demo is nothing less or more than a great story that keeps oscillating between the customer’s problems and your solutions.
Rule 3: Create context around each feature.
After you finish your presentation, you must ask for their feedback. Not just in terms of what they liked, but more importantly, is there something they found lacking? There are times when customers don’t see a desired feature in the demo and assume it isn’t available. But in fact, there is a workaround available.
Even if your product doesn’t have something they expected, you might want to pass that information to the product team so they can add it on their roadmap (particularly if multiple prospects ask for it). Once your product has those features, you can reach out to them again for another demo.
The whole point of taking feedback is to get a clear understanding of:
- Will they move forward with the deal?
- If yes, what were they sold on?
- If no, why not?
Rule 4: Understand why you succeed/fail in each demo.
Overall, delivering a great demo is all about following the lead of your prospect’s expectations and trying to match it with your offerings. When you start putting the needs and pain points of your prospects above your pitch, the quality of your demos will inevitably start to improve.