As someone who operates a B2B SaaS focused fund and user of several SaaS products myself, I had an opportunity to attend 100’s of product demos in last few years. The experience has been really mixed bag particularly with young Indian startups. Several of the demos were given by founders themselves and I felt that they dont fully realize the power of effective product demo. Probably, this topic is not widely spoken about and helping founders to put in place certain first principles can really up their game of product selling.
Certain products demos that I attended by significantly mature companies (several of them are Valley based) also made me realize that we can learn a lot from them. I, infact, just concluded reading kindle version of the book — Product Demos That Sell: How to Deliver Winning SaaS Demos by Steli Efti. Steli is founder of Close.io. Book is a short and crisp one with less than 100 pages, and can be a very good manual for early stage founders who have just started building their inside sales organization.
The book also helped me to objectively look at the demos I have attended in past and list out key 10 valuable nuggets that founders can immediately incorporate in their demo process:
- Qualify Prospects: The fact is Demos take significant time of inside sales team. So, its very important that qualification of prospects being done before scheduling a demo. This is to ensure that prospect meet your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) criterion. More importantly, qualification review / call with the prospect would also help you understand prospects pain points, value they are hunting for and features they are interested. You will probably also get to know if you will be giving a demo to decision maker, influencer or someone else. I have experienced this first hand as I have been demoed products that are not relevant for me at all. An equity research product provider had been following up for a product without realizing that we are a micro-VC fund and product is more suitable to larger funds. After following up emails and demo call, as we learned about significantly high pricing and we had to say no. Now the sales guy could have save both of our time, by bit of qualification research.
- 30 min Demo max: This is another issue with demos — by default sales guys schedule 1 hour for such demo. To fill this time, they tend to start giving product training instead of product demo. They start talking about how to navigate the product step by step and talk about every small little feature in the product. I would recommend 15–20 mins max demo and give enough time to prospect to engage into Q&A.
- Start with big picture first: Its important to start with purpose and list down at the beginning of the call what pain points prospects have and what benefits they are seeking — and have an agreement with them on that upfront on the list. Use the time to showcase — item by item — how you product will be able to address them.
- Keep the prospect engaged during demoing: Its very important not to make the demo a one way conversation wherein you keen going on and on about product features and functionalities without keeping prospect engaged and involved. As you transition from demo of a feature set to another, its a good idea to ask prospect if they have any questions, if the demo was able to address what they were seeking and a-liner on new feature set you are about to start talking about. This is very important particularly when an online demo is being provided. Its very easy for prospect to loose interest and she may go back to checking emails !
- Preparation: If certain hygiene factors are being incorporated you will be able to save prospect time and importantly avoid any embarrassment for yourself. Ensure that your bluetooth device / mic is working properly, software settings are in place, internet is working properly, battery is charged or plugged in, there are no background noises, there is no echo, any chat / email notifications are turned off etc. Also, good idea to load all the pages that you want to show to your prospect before hand so you save on loading time.
- Practice a lot: If you are a early stage founder and just setting up demo process, it doesnt hurt to plan for practice demo calls with friends and colleagues. Giving demo is considered as straightforward activity but its not and could be a real bottleneck in your conversion cycle.
- Prepare for Gliches: Irrespective of how much planning and practice you do, there might be situations wherein some glitch is going to catch you off guard. It could be technology failure, product failure or even not having a response to question raised by prospect. Internet failure or power outage is one that I see more common in Indian settings. Staff’s ability to deal with such situations can sometimes create a strong positive impression with prospects.
- Customize for Customer: This was one of the impressive piece of advice given in the book and can possibly bring ‘wow’ factor in your demo discussion. Little bit of research on your prospect can help you figure out the names of their customer, vendors, key employees etc. You will also know the industry they are in and the ‘language / jargon’ they speak. You have an opportunity to customize the demo data around customer, make pitch relevant to them and their industry etc. I can understand that though for low ACV’s this would be hard to justify.
- Three things to remember: This is another powerful advice. In the demo you might have provided overview of several features and aspects of products. In this process, prospect should not get overwhelmed and loose the bigger picture. Leverage the “Rule of three”, to ensure that most points are still stuck in prospect’s mind. Ask them about 3 key highlights of the conversation and then further summarize the ones that you want to resonate in the mind of prospect.
- Always Closing!: It is very important that demo closes with sales conversion or clear call to action. Ideal is prospect converts — if not there has to be clear next steps defined. For example, prospect might want to schedule a call with her colleague, might have follow-up questions that need to be responded etc.
Quote from the book that really stands out “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I would highly recommend you to read the book. Other books worth reading on this topic is Just F*ing Demo!: Tactics for Leading Kickass Product Demos by Rob Falcone.
But if you are looking for specific feedback on your product demo process, and looking for a friendly advice — I would be happy to do so. Just ping me on Linkedin. Happy Demoing!