Demo Experience Platforms — A Primer
Demos can be problematic. Even the best teams can suffer from bad demos like when Bill Gates presented Windows 98 and saw the “Blue Screen of Death” to Steve Jobs being unable to connect the iPhone to Wi-Fi. No wonder demo anxiety is real. Sadly, demos often fail because of networking and infrastructure challenges. It can be a lot of work to even create a demo. Go-to-market (GTM) teams rely on backend-end teams like graphic designers and developers to build demos and custom experiences, but this process can take time and be costly. Demo experience platforms are no-code solutions that empower GTM teams to self-reliantly create demos, and we believe they will be a crucial tool.
Demos are a huge pain point for teams. From convincing engineers to build demo environments to managing the infrastructure to designers generating content, GTM teams are forced to wait for R&D teams to have bandwidth to help. Moreover, customer facing team members often need admin-level access to demo admin-level features, which can be challenging for security. Additionally, demos rely on real or synthetic data, which can take time to collect or generate. Finally, individuals showing a demo usually can edit content and change settings to meet their needs so the lack of guardrails can lead to inconsistent narratives or accidental sharing of sensitive data.
With the product-led growth (PLG) GTM motion, customers more than ever want the product to do the selling. We’ve heard some prospects say that if there isn’t a demo they won’t even consider the product. Demo experience platforms facilitate this PLG practice. Theoretically, leveraging demos can even help decrease customer acquisition costs because prospects already have tried the solution.
Demo experience platforms are relevant for sales and marketing teams. Sales Engineers (SEs) and Account Executives (AEs) want a way to easily engage prospects by showing them a working version of the product that is customized to their needs. Demos are also an interactive leave behind for teams to explore. For marketing teams, demos can be embedded into websites and content to show the product in action. We’ve heard email campaigns that include a demo can increase click through rates over three times. Marketers can tailor the screen flows to show crucial functionality and preview upcoming feature releases to excite users.
When speaking with buyers there are a few attributes they look for in demo experience platforms: stability and no R&D dependency, customization, and analytics. One of the largest challenges for teams is making sure the demo is functional and stable without relying on R&D. We’ve all heard of a demo not working because of infrastructure issues. Demo experience platforms leverage a controlled sandbox environment that is often disconnected from the backend to ensure demos are stable. Often demos are run offline to further avoid Wi-Fi issues. This insulates the demo environment from downtime and complications of a production environment. Running demos through a demo experience platform can also decrease infrastructure costs. By providing a solution that GTM professionals can use without R&D getting involved they can build and share demos faster and engineers can focus more on product engineering. A no-code approach is crucial.
Demos resonate best when customers can imagine themselves using the product. Customization of the frontend by persona, customer segment, or vertical through tailored content like the text, colors, elements, images, exhibits, and data help. We’ve heard displaying data in the service that reflects the customer’s business is especially powerful. Highlighting relevant workflows or features in the product also guide the user to better understand how their business can get the most out of the product. By using a demo experience platform salespeople are no longer forced to show a generic demo but one that speaks to each unique customer. Demo experience platforms help teams craft product stories that resonate.
Demo experience platforms should capture analytics on demo engagement. Analytics are important for tracking which the features and flows customers care most about. Demo platforms can help A/B test features, messages, and visuals to see the highest conversion rate. They can also be leveraged to understand which demos are performing best for sales reps so the team can up level their overall performance and standardize. Shareable demos allow sales teams to track stakeholders across the customer and identify champions that are heavily engaging the demo. For marketers, analytics help track campaign progress in real-time and which demos perform best for pipeline conversion.
We believe teams will start to adopt demo experience platforms. Below we highlight seven offerings in the space including Arcade, Demostack, Reprise, Walnut, Capsule, Demoblox, Demoflow, and Navattic.
Demo experience platforms reflect the PLG movement and GTM teams deserve better demo tooling. We are excited for sales and marketing teams that are now empowered to tailor demos to their customers. We look forward to watching as the ecosystem evolves. If you or someone you know is working on a demo experience platform or adjacent offering, it would be great to hear from you. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.