Thursday, December 20, 2007

The killer demo: why demos are killing your sales

We’ve all heard about the killer demo. The team comes back from a sales meeting and reports how great the demo went and how impressed the viewers were: “They really loved it! They were floored… they just cannot wait to get their hands on it!”

A month later, the sale seems nothing but dead. Your salesperson is shaking his head: “I don’t really know what happened; they loved the demo but they are not returning my calls.”

The demo indeed was a killer; it killed your sale.

There are four main reasons a demo can be such a sale killer:
  1. You talk instead of asking questions and letting the customer talk

  2. There are probably hundreds of books that have been written on this subject, so I won’t waste your time stating the obvious.

  3. The people interested in the demo are usually not the people that can buy

  4. While getting buy-in from the intended user is important, the key to making the sale is reaching the decision makers. Most decision makers are not interested in the details. They want to know how you’re going to solve their business problems, not how your screens look like. Many of them wouldn’t even know what to look for in the demo. If the person you are dealing with is asking to see a demo that’s a clear red flag.

  5. You are showing them something that you don’t know they need

  6. There is no doubt that before you close the sale you will have to show a demo of the software. The question is when. If you didn’t spend enough time understanding the customer’s issues, the demo you are showing could be a great solution to the wrong problem.

  7. If they don’t like the demo they will walk away

  8. By showing the demo too early, you could lose the line of communication with the prospect before you had a chance to reach the decision makers, understand their needs, and explain how your solution could help them. The lower-level people you have been communicating with now think they have seen it all; they are now moving on to the next demo or the next problem they are trying to solve. Sooner or later they stop returning your calls.

So what can you do?

It’s actually quite simple. All you have to do is institute the three rules of the game:
  • There is no demo until there is a clear understanding of the needs

  • There is no demo until there is a clear identification of the decision makers

  • There is no demo until there is a clear agreement on the decision process
If your salespeople are having a hard time making the adjustment, give them some role playing training and some lines to work with, such as:

“We’d be happy to show you our software. It may take us many hours/days to show you everything the software can do, so before I spend your valuable time I would like to make sure that what we show you is relevant to the business issues you are trying to address.”

There are always exceptions to the rules. If you sell low-cost software that is really simple and easy to work with, showing the software could be the best way to sell it. If that’s the case, you should bypass the demo altogether and provide a free trial. That’s a topic for another post, though.

Why is all this important to you, the marketer?

By the end of the day, if the leads you generate don’t translate to sales, your marketing effort was a waste. Every campaign you embark on should have a clear plan for how sales will follow-up on the responses. Make sure the follow-up leads to a meaningful conversation to identify needs, decision makers, and the decision process--not a killer demo!

1 comment:

Eran Livneh said...

There is a great post on the topic of software demos on the Pragmatic Marketing blog.

Share this post