Product Demos That Don’t Suck

Or… how to create product demos that convert

Most B2B Enterprise SaaS companies rely on product demos at some stage of the sales cycle. A Webex/GoToMeeting/ClearSlide/LogMeIn/etc. session is created and the sales rep does a screen share with the prospect to walk through the product. But if your demos are not converting interested prospects to actual sales opportunities the reason may lie in one (or more) of the following problems.

  1. You don’t have a standard demo presentation or flow
  2. The demo doesn’t address the prospect’s pain
  3. Your prospect’s business is not reflected in the demo
  4. Features and functions are the core of the demo
  5. There isn’t a clear action at the end of the demo
  6. You are giving the demo to the wrong person
  7. You are giving the demo at the wrong time

Note: I’m focusing on live product demos vs pre-recorded demos, which might have their own issues that we can address at another time.

Each topic above can be a blog post on its own, so let’s just get to the core of each for now:

1. You don’t have a standard demo presentation flow

Don’t leave up to the reps (or sales engineers or whoever does demos at your company) to wing it. Make sure there’s a standard flow to be followed with clear indication of why it is done this way. At least have a deck that can be used as a guide or a document that spells out key areas to highlight during the demo. It should be a standard part of your sales onboarding and continuing sales education to get the reps to review, practice, and role-play the demo.

2. The demo doesn’t match the prospect’s pain

Don’t use the demo to show how your product works. Use the demo to show how the prospect’s pain/problem can be solved. But more importantly, make sure you focus on solving that specific pain, not a generic catch-all pain or a series of other problems in the industry that are not relevant to the prospect that’s on the phone with you. How do you do that? It requires a good understanding of the prospect’s industry or business, and a qualification or discovery call prior to the demo. Don’t shortcut the process trying to show the demo to ‘wow’ the prospect because it never works.

3. Your prospect’s business is not reflected in the demo

Make sure to customize the demo in a way that the prospect can see his business reflected in it. Whether you use terminology relevant to the industry, demo data that reflects the prospect’s business (e.g. don’t give examples related to financial services to a healthcare buyer), or key examples that make the prospect see himself or herself using the product and translates it clearly to their environment.

4. Features and functions are the core of the demo

Most product demos fall into this trap. Showing all the 352 features of the product and leaving no time for anything else. Sorry to be the one to break it to you but no one cares about your product’s features. What people do care is about solving a problem/pain. Use the different features to showcase a solution, to discuss (i.e. not only one person speaking but two-way communication) with the prospect how your company can help and what it would look like if the prospect were using the product. Talk about results, about benefits, and the overall value but don’t spend time showing how a click on a button does something without making it clear what the business outcome is.

5. There isn’t a clear call to action at the end of the demo

I’ve been there and so have you. The sales rep gives the demo and at the end he just asks if you have any questions and that’s it. This is a missed opportunity and a big faux pax, typically done because there wasn’t an upfront contract (UFC) at the start of the call. Make sure to end the demo with plenty of time for questions and to discuss what’s next in the buying process. Were there any questions left unanswered? Did the solution showcased match all the pains and challenges facing the prospect today? A clear path to purchase is essential if you want to convert prospects after your demos.

6. You are giving the demo to the wrong person

This is typically indications of a bad qualification process. You give the demo, the person at the other end of the line is really excited but nothing happens. You may be giving demos to people that have no authority over the purchasing process, meaning you wasted your time.

7. You are giving the demo at the wrong time

This is another mistake I see all the time. Vendors call me and ask if they can give me a demo. I say, “sure, always interested in checking out new technologies”. They give me a demo and then they ask what are the next steps, to which I say “nothing, I am not looking to buy”. Before trying to showcase your great product, do you know if I have a pain it can solve? Have you convinced me I desperately need a solution like yours? Have you showed me that my current situation is unsustainable and unless I do something about it (which your product can help) I will lose money or even my job? If you haven’t done any of this, a product demo won’t help. There is a right time for a demo and if you force it upon the prospect you won’t convert more, you will just lose time.

Product demos are almost standard in the SaaS industry today but there’s a good way and a bad way to use them. If you are guilty of any of the seven sins I described above, there’s still time to fix it and you will see much better conversion rates.

Good luck!