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Demos Should Be the Beginning – Not the Conclusion.

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Most software sales organizations think of “The Demo” as the most important waypoint on the way to that ultimate destination known as “Closed Deal.” It’s thought of as a single and pivotal event that has the biggest influence on the buyer’s decision to buy. A lot of preparation and effort goes into ensuring that the event is delivered as flawlessly as possible. 

I think this is a bit of a throwback to the old ways of the in-person on-site live sales meeting. In those days, before the pandemic and before even the proliferation of virtual meeting platforms, a sales team had one shot to impress a potential buyer. There was a lot of preparation that went into that meeting – ensuring all the right people were there, learning as much as possible about the buyer’s needs, arranging conference rooms, equipment, flights, car service, onsite internet connection, projectors…. It was exhausting. But because that was the way software sales were done, the product demonstration had significant meaning. If it didn’t go well, the sales team would rarely get the opportunity to try again.

This approach still seems to unduly influence software sales today, despite most meetings being conducted virtually. More significantly, there is a fundamental shift in the way buyers approach software acquisition. In the past, they relied on vendors to educate them on the market and solutions. Now, they use the Internet to educate themselves and eliminate vendors before even talking to them. Of course, much of the information a buyer uses ultimately comes from vendors, but now there is a wall between them that didn’t exist before. And buyers believe self-educating is sufficient, which is itself problematic. It’s time for software sales teams to embrace this shift and get ahead of their buyers, and “the demo” is actually a great way to do this. 

The key to this is what’s happening at the top of the funnel. This is traditionally where the most fallout happens. Only a very small percentage of people that are captured in this part of the sales cycle actually move on to formally evaluate solutions and make a purchase. The reason for this is the misalignment between what a buyer is doing and what a seller wants the buyer to do. At this point, the buyer is educating themselves. Most are connecting simply to get more information. They don’t completely know what they want because they don’t know what’s possible. But sellers are trying to get these people to “the demo.” Sellers think that by interrogating the buyer and learning as much as they can that they give the buyer the impression they care AND know how to deliver “the demo.” 

The reality is that most of those looking aren’t buyers in the sense that they’ll buy right now or next quarter. They are looking for a new idea or a better way – something they haven’t thought of. They realize that their knowledge is limited to what they currently have and that there is a much bigger world out there. They’re hoping that some software vendor has a better approach, a truly innovative solution. So, a software salesperson who only wants to know about the buyer is missing an amazing opportunity to shape that buyer’s thinking. Rather than focusing solely on the buyer’s problem, the software vendor should give the buyer exactly what they want: education. Show that buyer their point of view on their respective market and industry and how they approach it. And what better way to do that than through a product demonstration? But not the classic demo based on discovery. Actually, just the opposite. A demo that speaks to how you the vendor approach and solve the problem. And because buyers at this stage want to self-educate, give the buyer an easy-to-use and follow interactive experience.  Not the actual live product, but a simulated environment that can guide and educate that prospective buyer. 

Demoboost is one such platform that allows a software vendor to create self-guided, choose-your-own-path product experiences that can easily be offered to self-educating buyers via their website. And while buyers explore, Demoboost provides the sales and marketing teams huge visibility into what those buyers are most interested in and what they aren’t. With this data, sales teams now can align with those individuals at the top of the funnel rather than just trying to drag them to a demo. This leads to more buyers with a desire to really evaluate that vendor’s solution when the time is right. And because they already understand the value that vendor brings, sales cycles move faster and with a higher success rate than before. 

So many software vendors are stuck selling the old way. Take this opportunity to shift by aligning to what a buyer at the top of the funnel is looking for - a better idea and innovative solution. Don’t wait. Help them see what they are missing through an interactive, self-guided solution demonstration. 

Bill Balnave
Chief Revenue Officer

Bill Balnave, a seasoned sales leader, author, and investor, boasts over two decades in technical sales, serving in diverse roles, from sales engineering to product management. His expertise is a valuable resource for tech sales leaders seeking guidance.

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