How to give a product demo that turns prospects into customers

byGuido Croce

The skill of giving a demo is one of the most important to have in the process of closing a deal. If the salesperson fails to present the product correctly and handle the objections, then the demo to close ratio will be much lower.

We have given many demos at hubsell and made a lot of mistakes along the way. So today, I am going to share our demo structure and why it is so powerful in B2B sales.

Before I start breaking down each topic, here is the list of them for reference:

Why demos are a pillar of a successful funnel

Getting the right leads is half the sale

The process of scheduling demos

Demo structure

  • length of demo
  • people involved
  • the introduction
  • ask questions to assess the context
  • demo the product according to SQL’s needs
  • handle objections
  • linger in a pause so that the prospect can show intentions
  • set up a follow-up

Why demos are a pillar of a successful funnel

Demos are a powerful selling tool to convert SQLs into customers for two main reasons:

  • they require a certain time commitment of the prospect but not too much
  • they allow you to show the problem-solving features in a practical way

As humans, we tend to value more greatly whatever we focus our time on. A dish is more appreciated the longer the preparation time is and so is a sales conversation. The more time a prospect spends talking about a possible partnership with you, the higher the likelihood of them going through with it.

A demo usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes which in the B2B sales world is a decently long time. So, an SQL that commits to attending a demo has a serious interest in using the software/product. However, that time frame is not too much to ask of a prospect’s time, which would repel busy decision-makers.

The second reason demos are powerful is that it allows you to show your product live to the prospect. They can start to imagine themselves using it and solving their products (if there is a fit). No amount of phone calls or presentations can have the same impact as a personalised demo of your product.

Now that I have proved the usefulness of demos, let’s discuss the pre-demo tactics you ought to adopt.


Getting the right leads is half the sale

Demos convert better when the spectators have been sourced and gathered through a qualitative manner. In an increasing stricter world of privacy, that is the new standard to get long term positive ROI with cold outreach.

Quality data on ideal prospects allows you to send highly personalised messages, which leads to promising interactions.

On the other hand, the prospect fit is a contributing factor to higher conversions. You may have a solid pitch, a great product and tight objection handling skills. But, selling to the wrong prospects will get you mediocre results.

When compiling a list of targets, first find the markets and companies you would like to target. Then, only reach out to prospects if they meet your standards, for example:

  • their ability to afford your product (dependent on the companies’ budget size)
  • their product complexity needed (enterprises usually require more complex products)

Next, I will explore the process of scheduling demos more efficiently.


The process of scheduling demos

You should only push a prospect to schedule a demo if they are ready to move forward on the sales funnel. You have to make the transition as smooth as possible to get a higher number of prospects into demos. Ideally, they should ask for the demo themselves.

Tip: use a software that eliminates the back-and-forth messaging with the SQL to schedule a meeting. In our case, we like to use Google Calendar paired with Calendly to make the process easier for both parties.

Also, avoid hiding your selling intentions in the demo or prior to scheduling it. The decision-maker should be aware of the demo’s purpose. That way you respect each others time commitment of exploring a potential partnership.


Demo structure

Setting up a demo structure has two advantages:

  • you perfect the process over time by making adjustments
  • you get to practice relevant skills (negotiation, objection handling, etc) over and over

Here is the demo structure that I recommend you to follow:

Length of demo

Demo length depends on how complex your product is. In extreme cases, you may require two or more meetings to explain everything. For most B2B products out there, a demo of 30 to 60 minutes should suffice.

The length of the demo should not be too short. Prospects need time to analyse the product to understand how it works and how it would help them. The demo should also not be too long or else it will bore, saturate or take up too much of the prospect’s time.

People involved

There are two parties involved in the demo, the demo givers and receivers. Each company has to decide who should be present in the call, but here are my recommendations:

On the seller’s side:

  • one skilled salesman that knows the ins and outs of the software
  • one customer success member to show a customer’s perspective (not mandatory)

On the prospect’s side:

  • at least one decision-maker (the higher the seniority the better)
  • one future user of the software (in case a deal is signed)

Having the people mentioned above present in the call eliminates the need to re-give the demo to other employees of the prospect’s company. You will also be able to answer all questions and objections at once.

The introduction

The goal of the introduction of a demo is to get the prospect to relax and open up about the problem you wish to solve. You can do that by engaging in light banter, cracking an industry-specific joke, or any method that makes the spectator comfortable.

Once the ice has been broken, you start asking specific questions about their process. The set of questions will change from industry to industry and from prospect to prospect. Here is our own set of questions we like to ask:

  • what does your company do
  • how do you get leads
  • how do you do outreach (if at all)
  • have you used any outreach tools before

Those questions enable you to assess fit, build rapport and tailor the pitch to the prospect. Consequently, you will increase the chances of generating an opportunity.

Demo the product according to SQL’s needs

Demoing the product is all about framing it as the best thing since sliced bread while downplaying its shortcomings. I am not condoning lying (and so does hubsell). I am simply advising to focus on your strengths and how they will help the prospect fix their problem.

In a demo the difference makers are:

  • a high product knowledge
  • a product-prospect fit (enhanced by qualitative prospecting)
  • having an overall good product

Those will make the demo process straightforward and more impressive to the prospect.

Handle objections

Most demos will include some form of resistance from the prospect. A prepared salesman knows that and should be able to handle it with pre-written responses. To prevent the initial push back, the account manager can even address common objections right from the start. That will show industry knowledge and impress the prospect.

Note: never get defensive or emotional when receiving criticism from prospects, which is seen as insecurity from your side. Instead, show a rock-solid belief in your product by addressing objections professionally.

Linger in a pause so that the prospect can show intentions

At the end of the demo, there is a point in which the prospect will reveal their thoughts on what they would like to do next. You can wait for the prospect to ask for the pricing plans (the ideal scenario) or you can push for it yourself. The latter works better with more passive prospects. Either way, the pricing details should be discussed only when the prospect has shown interest.

Tip: Place a pause in the conversation to bait the prospect into sharing their thoughts. You will want to ask them if they are interested (which can still work) but it is better to let them ask for more information (a clear sign of interest).

Send a follow-up

After giving the demo, send a message to thank the prospect for attending it. In the message include materials to help in the decision process.

Then you may be asking yourself, what next?, or how long do I wait? There is no absolute answer. But, the pricier and bigger the decision is for the prospect, the more time you have to give them.

For some companies, three days may be enough while others may need two weeks or more. It depends on the prospect’s budget size, their number of employees, their urgency to make a choice, and other factors.

If the prospect has not reached out to you themselves after a couple of weeks, then send them a follow-up message. Ask them if they would like to talk further about the partnership. If they chose a different solution then do not push for a deal. If they say that the time is not right then reach out a few months (if they expressed interest in the demo).


Conclusion

A demo is an important tool to close deals. It should be structured beforehand to maximize closing rates. Hopefully, this article has helped you to create your own structure. Here are the key takeaways from this post:

Demos are a pillar of a successful funnel because they do not take much of the prospect’s time. You can actively show how the product will help fix their problems.

To get good results in demos, getting the right leads is half the sale. So, focus on getting quality data and finding leads that are a fit with your product.

The process of scheduling demos should include software to decrease friction. Also, the salesman should express the clear objective of the demo and never hide it.

Demo structure

  • length of the demo – keep it between 30 to 60 minutes
  • people involved – have people of high seniority on both sides as well as the future users
  • the intro – get the prospect to relax with engaging small talk
  • let them speak by asking questions (to assess fit, build rapport and tailor the pitch)
  • move to demoing the product according to SQLs needs
  • keep answering questions and objections
  • linger in a pause at the end so that the prospect can show intentions
  • send follow-up post demo


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