Your SaaS product is new! Exciting! It will save future customers time and money!
So why doesn’t anyone want a software demo?
“It’s like trying to schedule a meeting for buying a timeshare!” says Director of Sales Michael Veschio. “Sure, you get free lunch—but it’s an hour of your time, and you’re going to be sold to the whole time. Not worth the free lunch, for most people.”
A lot of companies struggle to get prospects to show up to sales demos. The reason, Veschio says, is that so many salespeople, particularly those early in their career, fall into the same trap: the feature dump.
It’s time to ditch the product demo.
Effective salespeople focus on solution sales instead, which includes a thoughtful demo process that addresses issues specific to the customer.
A sales demo that’s focused on a few specific solutions may require more discovery time on the front end; this is especially true if you sell software with a wide range of features and use cases. But prospects are much more likely to stay engaged, keep moving through the funnel, and see the value in your product.
The modern software demo is value-based and focused on use cases that address the prospect’s unique and specific problems.
To keep your software demo focused on what matters, you’ll want to do your homework and ask the right questions.
Software Sales Demo Tips & Best Practices
- Do Your Homework
- Find Out How Much They Already Know
- Ask: “How Does Your Company Make Money?”
- Don’t Talk About Product Features
- Answer “How Much Does it Cost?” Wisely
- Involve All of the Appropriate Stakeholders
- Book the Next Appointment
- After the Demo: Make the Case to Close the Deal
1. Do Your Homework Before the Sales Demo.
If you’ve gotten to the software demo stage with your prospect, they should already be well qualified as a good fit for your solution. So it’s worth it to spend a little time on research prior to your conversation.
First, the easy stuff. Take a look through their company website and identify the following:
- What are they selling?
- Who are the relevant leaders at their company?
- Who are your competitors in the target customer’s industry?
“The company website gives me a sense of their level of sophistication,” says Veschio. “With a younger company, I often talk about building pipeline. If the company is older and more sophisticated, I talk about how we can help up-sells and cross-sells, or expansion and new verticals.”
With a little extra digging—or a sales intelligence tool—look for who their company targets. This may include:
- Industries – e.g. state governments
- Company sizes – e.g. enterprise
- Departments – e.g. operations
- Geography – e.g. Gulf Coast states
- Specific roles – e.g. instructional designer
- What is their tech stack? – If you sell technologies, look for tech that compliments or competes with yours
- What (solution similar to yours) are they using right now?
- Who are the relevant decision-makers at their company? Even if you don’t know their direct report or department head, look for the C-level contact.
The next step is the sales demo—starting with a discovery call.
Although you already have some information about the company, and hopefully your prospect, the initial discovery process should uncover your prospect’s motivation for getting on the phone with you in the first place.
So pick up the phone or turn on your video chat, and get ready to sell.
2. Find Out How Much They Already Know About You.
Zoominfo’s account executive Carolyn Murray starts the software demo by asking the prospect how much they already know about her company and their product.
The prospect’s familiarity will inform her strategy for the remainder of the call.
“How familiar are you with our product? What have you heard? Have you used us before in other jobs?”
“Start as open-ended as possible,” Murray says. “This makes people word vomit! There are two benefits here: In addition to gauging their familiarity and establishing a relationship—they’re sort of selling YOU: They will probably talk about what they’ve heard about you—which is positive or they wouldn’t be there.”
For prospects who haven’t heard about you before, ask what piqued their interest.
Prospects who are already familiar with your company or solution are more forthcoming with their challenges, allowing you to be a lot more direct. They already have a reason for taking the demo call, unlike prospects who require more convincing.
“This is more common with inbound leads,” Murray adds. “They reached out to you for a reason. Clearly there are things we can do to help. I’d rather just ask about their goals and pain points outright.”
3. Ask: “How Does Your Company Make Money?”
“Don’t ask this question too soon!” says Murray. “It can come across as intrusive. But once you get to a point where you’ve established some rapport and trust, ask. You have to understand their business model in order to see how your solution fits in.”
While you may not ask a question as broad as, “How do you make money?”, there are several questions you can ask to develop a better understanding of their business and how it operates:
- “How long is your sales cycle?”
- “How big is your average deal size?”
- “What verticals do you sell into? Does your company have plans to expand?”
Veschio likes to take his time here. “People aren’t patient, and I respect that. But to speak to the real issues that are important to them, you have to ask.”
4. Talk About Solving Problems, not Software Features.
Remember the cardinal rule of modern software demos: Do not talk about your product’s features!
Your product might have the most dazzling features ever created—but that’s not why your prospect is there. They only care about solving a problem or pain point.
So choose a few use cases that address problems they self-identified, and talk about how your product solves them.
“Pick three product-oriented items that will address their pain points,” Murray says. “Don’t show them every little thing. And continue to ask questions.”
Here’s an example:
“To solve [problem], we’ve seen a lot of customers use [product feature] this way. What do you think – is that how you would use it too? Or is your workflow different?”
“Yes,” the prospect might say, “but we would actually do X, Y, and Z instead. And then, we would …”
In this scenario, prospects sometimes end up selling themselves on your own product!
5. Answer “How Much Does it Cost?” Wisely.
Price. This is likely why your prospect is willing to get on the phone with you at all.
But while they want to know how much it’s going to cost, you want to keep it value-based.
Wait – why talk about value instead of price? Two reasons.
First, price is just a number, and it’s meaningless without context.
To a sales rep with a salary of $40,000 per year, for example, $60,000 for a marketing automation system might sound like a lot of money! …But how much does the company pay for electricity? How much do they pay for their email server? How much do they pay for leads?
With this context, it should be clear that the cost of your product—and it’s value—is on par with other enterprise purchases.
Second, the prospect must understand the value of the price you’re offering, in order to make an informed purchase. A value-focused negotiation emphasizes the ROI, or return on investment, that the prospect can expect from your solution.
Price doesn’t tell the whole story.
How to Talk About Cost in a Sales Demo
Murray likes the idea of “anchoring”: setting expectations with a number, and working from there. She suggests anchoring the price to a large number—say, their average sales price (ASP)—then going down, so every number discussed from that point on is smaller.
Anchoring creates a sense of relief for the prospect, whose expectations were set with a large number that they watched shrink as the conversation progressed!
Here’s an example script, where the ASP is $100,000:
“If you made two deals, worth $200,000—you just doubled your investment! That would be a good return on your investment, right? Well good news: our software isn’t that expensive.”
Get their attention with a large number, Murray says, then scale back. Here’s another example:
“Our larger customers spend $500,000-$1 million on these kinds of cloud solutions.” (Yikes!)
“… The good thing is, you’re nothing like them.” (Whew!)
Veschio has a script for anxious prospects whose only goal is to learn the price:
“I know you just came here for price. I know you probably report to someone who needs that information, but bear with me and let’s take the time to do this right. At the end of the year, when you do the math, properly evaluating, and ultimately purchasing [this product] for your team is something you will want to be remembered for. So bear with me…”
6. Involve All of the Appropriate Stakeholders.
“I was demo-ing with an intern the other day!” says account executive Julia Hall.
This isn’t unusual, of course. New product demos are a great project for interns, and you need to impress the subject of the demo—whoever they are. But the first person on your product demo is not usually the last person you need to convince.
Even if they’re not an intern, the person who attends the initial demo isn’t usually someone with the authority to make the purchase. You’re going to need to involve other people.
- “Will this product affect other people? Are there other stakeholders who would like to be involved?”
- “Who will be approving this purchase?”
- “Could our product be used by other departments? Who can I talk to over there?”
This is especially important for software sales, where buying decisions often involve a committee—and that buying committee is getting bigger all the time. A single-threaded relationship that neglects the other stakeholders can end in a heartbeat, leaving you dead in the water.
Creating multi-threaded relationships with all stakeholders is just good business practice.
7. Book the Next Appointment.
“Don’t hang up the phone without booking the next appointment,” Hall says, “no matter what!”
Now that you’ve identified the other key stakeholders, loop them in with a follow-up email or appointment. Whatever you do, don’t get off the phone without knowing exactly what the next step is, and putting it on the prospect’s calendar (and on their boss’s calendar as well).
“Say it again!” says Hall. “Never hang up the phone without getting that next meeting booked!”
And one last question, for future reference: “What was your favorite thing that you saw today?”
8. After the Software Demo: Make the Case to Close the Deal.
“Make it easy for them to showcase value to actual decision-maker,” Hall says. “Help the prospect find the best way of getting your product procured by their company.”
She suggests a follow-up note with some neatly packaged highlights:
- Video clips of what was in the demo, including advantages and key features.
- Anything that was particularly interesting to them, including screenshots of topics that they liked
- Summarize the potential return on investment.
Pro Tip: If you sell software or technology, integrations can make or break the deal. Even if you didn’t get to it in your demo, mention compatible tech integrations in your follow-up email.
Final Thoughts on Software Sales Demos
More and more of the modern buyer’s journey is done alone, before a prospect even gets in touch with your business. Most modern buyers would rather do their own research than get on the phone with a pushy salesperson.
As prospects are more informed and independent than ever before, the value-based sales demo is a critical touchpoint in the sales process.
If you’ve done your job well, the software demo is just one step in an ongoing relationship. “Hopefully,” Murray says, “you’ve created a champion!”