For ambitious sales teams, product demos are your chance to shine. Now is your time to connect with a sales prospect and pitch the product.
You’ve got targets to hit. Sales generates commission. You need to make the most of every demo. Failure to close deals gets some staff one step closer to the door, especially in high-pressure environments.
Whether you sourced this lead yourself, or marketing sent it over, or it came through a Live Chat session or an on-site demo request, this is a chance to convert a potential lead into a free trial customer, even a paying client.
Potential buyers know more than ever before, which means this demo request could come from a buyer with a budget, an immediate need, already prepared to spend money. Last thing you want to do is mess up this opportunity. And yet, far too many sales agents fumble and drop what could be a golden opportunity.
Here are five best practices for successful product demos
#1: Be responsive
Research shows that calling, or jumping on an Instant Demo, with a potential lead within 5 minutes makes them 21x more likely to consider buying. So when you get a list of old leads, you should assume very few are going to want a call or will convert.
Active leads, especially if they’ve come through live chat, a ‘request a demo’ form, or an eBook download, should be contacted as soon as possible.
Sales teams need to start thinking with a buyer’s mindset. If you take too long to respond, you lose a potential sale. Buyers won’t wait. Failing to integrate sales with marketing is another all-too-common mistake small and medium enterprises make. If marketing is generating leads, but not getting them over to sales while they’re hot, then that is a lot of wasted and expensive effort.
Instead of waiting for leads to trickle through from marketing, or hoping your sales team have the time to deal with inbound prospects quickly, get focused on implementing a proactive pipeline approach.
#2: Listen and ask questions
An old friend in sales – a guy with a track-record of closing multi-year, multi-million dollar deals – explained how he won one of his biggest deals.
“I was speaking to the buyer. This must have been our third meeting,” my friend said.
“We were getting to the point of discussing terms. I know our competitors, some big names – global brands in the cloud space, were at a similar point with this company. It was a long journey, but we kept going. The point where I knew we’d won was when the buyer, over coffee, turned to me and said, ‘I like you. I don’t like those guys’, meaning our competition.”
After months of working on this deal, it came down to who the buyer got along with. Who they trusted the most. He explained that it wasn’t because they’d produced the best pitch, or proposal. Or the cheapest price.
Deals are won or lost, more often than not, based on who solves problems most effectively for a customer, which means listening and asking questions. Active listening, instead of focusing on features, benefits or technology. Potential customers don’t care as much about that as they care about feeling heard.
Buyers, budget holders and influencers in prospect companies want to know how your solution solves their problem, is it the best option for them (who else uses it is a good indicator), and how well a salesperson can establish empathy, trust, and ultimately, listen and ask questions. Unless you do that on a demo, you can’t take it to the next stage, which is when you craft solutions for their specific challenges.
#3: Craft solutions for problems
Almost every software product, from low-budget subscriptions to enterprise-solutions for big corporates, involves a consultative selling process.
In practice, this means identifying clients who could need your product. Maybe it was built for them. Maybe it was built for similar companies in another sector that struggle with some of the same challenges. Once you understand these, you can craft solutions around your product’s features and services.
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Of course, every company will have their own, specific challenges. When speaking to a prospect on a demo, find out what their challenges are, and solve them. Identify particularly useful features that will fix these challenges, and sell them on the benefits of using them, alongside everything else your product does.
#4: Use storytelling
Salespeople who listen, who build empathy, who ask questions, rarely stick to scripts.
A script means you are selling at someone, not talking with someone. Your manager will notice a big difference. Those who talk with prospects have a much better chance of hitting targets.
However, some preparation and practice is essential. Knowing your companies ‘why’; why it was founded, why your product will solve your client’s problems, is an important part of the sales process. Have that information at your fingertips, even if you don’t always need it.
#5: Showcase the ROI
Every business buyer needs to know the ROI.
In almost every buying scenario, there are the problems that need solving, and then there is the ‘compelling event.’ Putting yourself in the shoes of your buyer, you need to understand what is the pain and fear behind every purchase. What happens, or could happen, if they don’t spend this money? Why does it happen now, or later? What is the implementation timescale?
Outlining the ROI is how you show that the product is the solution for the compelling event, that it can fit in with their timescale, budget, and plans beyond the immediate purchase of this product. It demonstrates understanding. Shows you fit in with the bigger picture and operational plans. Addressing the ROI question, for most clients, provides reassurance.
#6: Ask for the business
There is a fundamental mistake that many salespeople make on product demos, which is: They fail to ask for the business at the end of the call. This means, asking your prospect some variant of the question “Is there any reason you can’t make the decision to buy right now?”
A question like this will get one of three results:
If there’s a next step, whatever it is, nail down a date and time to take it. If it’s another meeting with more stakeholders, get it scheduled while you have them on the phone. If they decided to purchase, ask them for the contact details of the person who will finalize the billing arrangements, or better yet get them on the phone right then and there. Don’t trust that the prospect will be responsive to your emails and calls after this one.
Quick recap: How to succeed on product demos:
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