Revolutionize Your Sales Demos: With Demo Automation and Curiosity Science
Melissa is a Sales Engineering Manager facing challenges with her team. The team struggles with engaging prospects, and they spend too much time and resources on these approaches without seeing the desired results.
This blog post will explore the challenges faced by Sales Engineers, the inefficiencies of free trials and custom demos, and the benefits of using demo automation software like Demoboost. Additionally, it introduces the science of curiosity into Demo Automation and how it keeps prospects engaged and closes more deals.
Day 1: The Sales Engineer's Problem
Typically, Melissa isn’t clueless. But this time, her team member, one of the best Sales Engineers in the company, faces a dilemma. A week ago, she was happier than a cat basking in the sun because she got an appointment with her prospect’s VP of Innovation scheduled. And this particular discovery session will take place in a week.
Desperation came up yesterday when the Sales Engineer’s champion wanted to help and invited twenty developers to the call.
A huge shock for everybody because those developers are fans of the competitor’s solution. In addition, the value proposition for the 45-minute call targets the VP. All messaging lacks technical details.
Melissa and her Sales Engineer couldn’t find a solution. Removing the developers from the agenda would send the wrong signal; the session needs to focus on the VP, not lose his interest or waste his time. But what should she do with the developers? There isn’t enough time to excite every participant and role––not to mention the missing capacity to prepare for such a change.
The Sales Engineer left Melissa's office with a deep breath and an unsolved problem.
“I will find a way,” she says optimistically with a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.
Day 2: Handling Costly Trials
Melissa’s company sells enterprise-grade solutions to B2B clients, and she already hears the quarter-end stomach growl because of its insatiable appetite for money.
On the top, Melissa struggles to engage prospects with free trials and custom demos. She is concerned about her Sales Engineering team’s effectiveness when she reviews the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data. She realizes how costly and inefficient free trials are.
Although the numbers sound reasonable, they don’t live up to the costs of her team. What’s the issue?
Account Executives love the possibility of enrolling prospects into a free trial because they hope to stay engaged that way. In addition, it gives them the warm feeling of providing value.
Melissa is convinced that free trials don’t lead to a more profound commitment from prospects. They just sign up, click around for fifteen minutes, and do or don’t understand the tool. Maybe they leave the browser tab open for a week until they restart it after an update and have forgotten about the trial like a broken toy.
Melissa’s analytics dashboard might tell a story of an engaged prospect who danced through all their open browser tabs, accidentally hitting the trial application.
The worst thing: Melissa's team members report that prospects on a free trial aren’t interested in the solution. It seems like they lost any craving or excitement once they logged in. Melissa makes a mental note to research why this happens.
The situation changes only when a Sales Engineer takes them by hand and leads them through the tool. But again, this is costly.
Same with custom demos. The moment the Sales Engineer delivers the result–after coding through the night to get use cases, data, branding, and configuration correct–prospects yawn during the presentation as if they hadn’t slept for three days. The prospect doesn’t feel any ownership.
A solution is to run hands-on workshops with the client. Let them configure the application by attacking a real-life business problem while the Sales Engineer acts as a coach.
This approach is tough to scale and expensive. It only pays off for well-qualified opportunities.
But what could be a solution to the free trial dilemma?
No doing them. That will be a tricky thing to discuss with the Account Executive.
But Melissa goes for it because she discovers Demoboost.
After a conversation with the vendor, Melissa realizes that demo automation capabilities are a great way to handle the objections of refusing free trials: For example, with a video message accompanied by a self-paced solution demonstration!
And to Melissa’s surprise, the Account Executive agrees.
Prospects don’t care that a free trial is expensive and a waste of time. But if you give them a recorded demo that answers their questions–perfect! Even more, only showing necessary details about their needs will make them more curious–an elegant way to keep engagement high without a free trial.
One more benefit: Demoboost allows you to leave notes and comments. It’s not unusual for prospects to leave a “Thank You” message after playing with the demo. What a great way to stay in touch.
Prospect is happy, AE is happy, and so Melissa is happy.
Until the next problem surfaces. The overbearing need expressed by the wider sales team for Melissa’s team to create custom demos. (Plus, the unsolved problem of her best Individual Contributor.)
Day 3: Reducing Custom Demos
Melissa reviews the data her team enters into the time-tracking application. They spend more than thirty percent of their time on custom demos. Yet, not even half of the demo deals result in a win. Why?
An intuitive first explanation is because of poor qualification.
But Melissa doesn’t want to stop there and looks at how her team develops custom demos:
Firstly, the Sales Engineer discusses potential use cases with the client.
Then, the SE retreats into Monk mode, building the custom demo.
Typically, they take time from product and development to find workarounds for special customer wishes.
Lastly, the SE delivers the custom demo in an hour-long presentation.
Some things stood out to Melissa: The use cases her team attacked were often artificial. The prospect chose a niche part of their business to test the custom implementation or oracled about the future needs–kind of a Christmas wishlist. That signals insufficient qualification again.
When the custom demo gets delivered, prospects seem disengaged, even uninterested. Stakeholders cancel their participation last minute and promise to watch the recording, which is what they, of course, never do.
Now, some SEs in Melissa’s team started to use Demoboost not only to reduce free trials but also to demo core aspects of the prospect’s implicit and explicit needs. Sometimes they could do this before the first discovery call because the Sales Engineer understood the client’s domain well and touched on common pain points.
Interestingly, sending automated demos out early reduced the need for trials and the craving for custom demos. Melissa’s team assumes that relevance trumps customization. Offering the prospects success stories of clients similar to them early in the sales process resonates equally well as a custom demo later in their journey.
Additionally, because a video of the Sales Engineer accompanied the demo, it created familiarity and trust.
Melissas’s team reported “warmer” sales calls because the prospects already knew the Sales Engineers.
Is this an approach for the VP of Innovation discovery call?
Day 4: Rehearse Your Prospect’s Internal Seller.
During Melissa’s next 121 with another Sales Engineer, a complaint comes up that she hears more often these days. The Sales Engineer has a great relationship with their champions, and helpful information is exchanged whenever they speak. And the champions repeatedly promise to carry the valuable solution information to other stakeholders. But with no real impact. Nothing comes back. It seems the champion can’t explain the value as well as the Sales Engineer. In tough economic times, budget authority moves up the chain, making it even harder to convince stakeholders. The champion is powerless. And in the worst-case scenario, they evangelize to the wrong people.
But AE and SE have been so fond of their buddy connection with a budget owner they didn’t work on furthering relationships (aka Multi-Level Selling) as they should have. Result: Deal lost.
At that moment, the Sales Engineer swore she would educate their champions by creating automated interactive demos that push on the prospect’s precise needs. Of course, the SE requires multiple discovery sessions to develop such a demo with the opportunity. But once conversations moved from problems to the implicated pain and the explicit solution, the Sales Engineer could effectively record a tailored demo to contain that knowledge.
The Sales Engineer overlaid it with a confident speech and shared it. Finally, the champion distributes the interactive demo in their organization by picking up the value-stuffed video message.
Problem solved. Prospect educated.
Only one thing remains: Some employees of prospects seem to be promising influential champions but turn out to be coaches with no influence.
Day 5. Automated Discovery
Melissa receives a message from an Account Executive about the most promising deal in the pipeline. It’s a shock for everybody involved: Closed lost by no decision.
However, Melissa isn’t worried so much about the sales numbers but about her best Sales Engineer, who worked hard on the deal. She seems demotivated and overworked. And Melissa wants her to stay healthy and not move to another company.
It turns out that the deal got lost because the AE focussed on the wrong people, mainly the ones who seemed nice, talkative, and engaging—coaches with no influence.
Once AE and SE pushed the deal forward, it became apparent that much time was wasted on custom demos and an expensive PoC implementing artificial use cases.
Melissa assigns a special task to her individual contributor. She clears her agenda from unqualified opportunities and asks her to learn how to use Demoboost to gain insight into the influence and authority of potential champions.
So her Sales Engineer develops automated demos that help educate the prospect but with a significant twist–a questionnaire that fronts the demo like a “Choose your own Adventure” game.
They inquire about the viewer's LinkedIn profile, level in the organization, interests, and experience. Then the tool offers demos that match their seniority and domain.
In the background, Demoboost calculates an influence and authority score, which results in clustering the demo viewer as a coach (no influence/authority), a champion (influence), or an economic buyer (influence, authority).
Interestingly, one of the most critical and harsh people in the account identifies as a potential champion in contrast to the friendly but non-influential coach, who uses much of the SE’s time leading her down a rabbit hole.
So this time, the deal is set up professionally.
Until a credibility issue with the champion arose because she didn’t acknowledge the SE as a thought leader. Would Melissa find a solution for this problem, too?
Day 6. Increasing Engagement Rate and SE Familiarity
Melissa and her Sales Engineer think hard and look at Demoboost. Again, the capability to send video messages alongside the demo stands out.
Melissa’s Sales Engineer is reluctant to use that feature at first but promises to try it with proper preparation.
And magic happens. When the Sales Engineer adds a video message to each of her automated demos, the champion warms up to her because hearing the other person speak and seeing her eyes increase familiarity.
The next in-person sales call starts on a much warmer note and lowers barriers. The champion finally shares critical information for a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation.
Some days later, the Sales Engineer’s LinkedIn profile gets a comment from the champion, indicating that she is impressed by the shared information. Luckily, Demoboost prominently presents a link to LinkedIn as a Call-to-Action after the video.
Melissa’s Sales Engineer proves her value to the organization and even gets promoted due to her ongoing success.
Day 7. The Heureka Moment
Curiosity! That’s it.
Melissa’s Sales Engineer could solve her problem with the VP of Innovation meeting by sending Microdemos to the twenty developers before the call, raising their curiosity and reducing their craving for a technical demonstration.
In Curiosity science terms, she uses Uncertainty Reduction by Facilitating Learning.
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Interestingly, automated demos raise the curiosity level of the developers because their confidence about the topic increases just a bit. Enough to make them care. This reduces some of their resistance to the solution as a positive side effect.
Science proves Melissa’s findings: The more confidence about a topic increases, the more curious people get–up to a certain point where this effect reverses.
So the Sales Engineer records a specific Micro demo, adds a video message about the developers' issues, and delivers those into their inboxes.
Nice enough, two of them open it and watch it immediately.
Seven out of ten developers have seen the warm-up demos with the VP call coming closer.
Their curiosity increased, but they were still not maxed.
The Sales Engineer prepares a demo environment for the call in case she needs it.
Her main talk track still targets the VP of Innovation, but she could pull up a screen as soon as words aren’t enough anymore.
Show it, close it. Continue the conversation.
That’s how the Discovery call with the VP becomes a success. They even agree on a follow-up appointment that they fix in their calendars.
The developers have many questions–they all agree that they don’t need another demo but a hands-on workshop.
As this is a qualified opportunity, sales leadership gladly approves the workshop, and the deal progresses nicely.
Fingers crossed for Melissa and the team to close the deal.
Are you already using the science of curiosity, automated discovery, and discovery demos in your deal cycle?
If not, you should come and speak to Demoboost.