Robust demos are back in full swing abounding in many enterprise sales opportunities. What’s wrong with that? Plenty.
In working with sales organizations all around the world I am seeing an uncanny sales practice when left unfettered will negatively impact many active sales opportunities and portend inaccurate forecasts and weak pipelines.
It’s the great and haloed product demonstration. “Demos” we all call them. The big Dog ‘n Pony Show. You know what I mean – that sales call event when the Sales Engineer (SE) gets trotted out for the online or face-to-face meeting to conduct the deep dive demonstration of the product offering. Often no Feature or Function is spared from the proud showcasing of all conceivable nooks and crannies and elements that make up our very cool products and services.
We almost can’t help ourselves. But we have to, out of necessity for better sales cycle management and organizational sales effectiveness.
Our actual demo may be fine, even beautiful. But the dysfunction runs deep. Have you ever see the following sequence of events?:
- A Business Development Rep (BDR) finds a lead
- The lead is qualified and passed to an Inside or Outside Sales Rep
- The Sales Rep has an discovery conversation, confirming qualification and a viable Opportunity
- The Sales Rep (or even BDR) sets up a Demo
- The Rep or the SE conducts a 1-hour scheduled Demonstration with “Bob” the prospect
- All goes well according to the Sales Rep, who follows up with a quote or proposal
- This Opportunity goes on the Sales Rep’s Forecast for the month or quarter
- The Opportunity never closes.
The Sales Rep may keep trying. May even do another demo or two(!) with “Mary” the prospect’s boss or other key stakeholder who couldn’t make it to the first demo. Still the deal stalls. Eventually Sales Management gets tired of seeing it on the forecast report. Often after months, quarters, (I’ve seen years) the Opportunity gets Closed/Lost status or put back into Nurture mode.
Talk about messing up your Marketing/Sales metrics.
Recalibrating the Sales Process
The problem is subtle but infinitely fixable. It’s a sales process issue involving timing, a critical tool/activity and a possible erroneous assumption.
First, the potentially false assumption. There’s often a general assumption that the customer needs to see a 1-hour formal demonstration of the product in order to make a buying decision. Ask yourself: have we ever closed a deal without a big demo? By the way, this is not to be confused with a Proof of Concept (POC) or Trial or formal Evaluation in more complex enterprise sales situations. But many Opportunities can be more effectively managed with a brief Qualifying Demo or what I refer to often as a Quick-Look-See Demo. Discernment here can save time, money, and your SE team’s sanity.
The timing issue centers on when these brief Qualifying Demos will be conducted and who will drive them. And that is intimately tied to the tool/activity and how these brief demos get done.
The 90-Second, 5-Minute, or 15-Minute Demo
More and more companies now have brief video clips on the product/solutions pages of their web sites that show product screen shots, application use-case highlights, customer testimonials, product feature/function summaries, etc. These serve a positive purpose of showcasing the offering in a quick and effective way. Of course, some of these are done better than others. Some are too long – 3 minute videos are pushing the maximum in many cases. (90 seconds is just about right.) Some are mundane and poorly produced. Some are passable as a ‘quick n’ dirty’ product intro overview. The idea is a quick Show and Tell of the offering – either self-served by the prospect, or proactively offered up via Marketing, the BDR or Sales Rep at the initial contact phase.
Other companies train their Sales Reps to conduct 5 to 15 minute product demonstrations themselves via online conferencing tools. These are done as part of the initial Qualification/Discovery stage conversations and certainly prior to a the Solution Development or larger Demonstration stage. The point here is to make this a part of the qualification filter as well as get your exciting product seen quickly, albeit in quick and small bites.
And yes, all sales reps should be able to conduct a highlight overview demo of your product offering.
Great Demos are Purposeful
Demos will never go out of style. They can only be done too often, too soon, and too poorly. Done right, the full blown demonstration is conducted after a qualified and thoroughly discovered Opportunity is ready for the next clearly defined stage of an overall clearly defined sales process. With well-done brief and early product showcasing, the SE (or Rep) is ready to highlight custom key feature/functions, user interface benefits, appropriate use case application, integration ease and implementation process.
So, demos are good. Just be careful. Good and appropriate demos give your sales team a chance to shorten sales cycles, build early excitement over your offering, and drive better sponsorship, support, and attention of key prospect stakeholders.
Are you managing your demos appropriately?