We see a lot of new technology, whether it be prospects, customers or the software we use to run our agency. In the last week I’ve sat through six SaaS product demos. Before going into a demo there is always a sense of excitement, the sense that I'm about to see something that solves a particular problem that I’ve been trying to crack. All too often, there is a sense of disappointment at the end. Out of all six of those demos, the standard was low!
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a blip. Across the board, I feel that the standard of SaaS product demos is very low. They all feel the same and tend to amount to a blind point and click process. It’s the same old ‘show and tell’ approach, and it’s broken. Customers are bored by demos like this, and it stops you from converting your demos into sales.
Mostly, your pre-canned generic demos are failing to give customers an understanding of how your software would fit into their business. If they don’t see how your software can benefit them or be directly applied to the day-to-day activities of their business, they’re not interested.
After comparing all of B2B SaaS demos I have seen, I think things need to change. So, here’s how you really deliver a demo that makes an impact and helps you convert those demo prospects into customers.
The main issue with most SaaS demos is that they’re far too generic. You’re creating something that doesn’t target anyone specifically, and that’s a problem!
So, my first piece of advice is to know who you’re talking to. You know who your software is targeted at, so research your target audience. When people sign up to see your demo, do individual research on them and their business. This helps you understand each person and their experience. You can see what type of role they have in their company, and you can design your demo around the people that are present.
By conducting some quick research, you can prepare yourself and decide what you think they will want to see and know. I believe this is a totally different perspective from the norm, which is more focused on what YOU want them to see and know. Discuss what you think are their primary concerns - you can clarify this with questioning, which we’ll get onto in a bit.
Start your demo with an introduction that shows the prospect you understand what they’re going through. Again, bring it all back to their core business challenges. This is why your research is so essential as you need to know what to address in your introduction to get people drawn in.
Your introduction is a lot like the subject line in an email. If it’s good, people are more likely to be interested in everything else you have to say. If it’s terrible, they’ll zone out and start thinking about what to have for lunch. Hook people in by using statements that position you as their guide, rather than a salesperson or demo robot. The most successful sales people we work with have one key element, they’re helping not selling. Apply this approach here; frame yourself as a helper, a guide, a trusted source, not someone who goes in for the hard sell.
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Another common error is shortening the introduction and jumping right into the demo. In reality, your intro should start well before the demo itself. Spend time asking questions to the prospect, understand why they’re here and set the expectations for the demo. This ensures everyone understands what’s going on, what you’ll do, and what the demo will showcase.
I’ve touched upon this a couple of times already, but questions are so critical for your B2B SaaS product demo!
You can ask as many as you want - you’re trying to gain as much information from the customer as possible. This provides you with the structure for your demo. I always liked to ask the following three questions whenever I delivered demos for the SaaS businesses I’ve worked for:
Obviously, you don’t need to ask the exact same questions. Just ensure you know what their main challenges are, if they have specific things they’re hoping to see, and the other platforms they’re looking at.
As I said, questions are vital as they basically decide the path that your demo will follow. Think about their answers and make sure that you demonstrate how your software helps them. For example, they might say that a big issue for them is flexibility. So, give a demo that shows how flexible your software is and how you can use it in so many different ways - you need to fine-tune the demo to suit the prospect you're talking to. Use all of your great insight and think on your feet. You should be highly prepared for this, and your research will likely already identify the answers to a few of the questions you ask. But, the customer will reinforce those answers and probably tell you a few things you might not have thought about. Adapt your demo to suit each person, and there’s more chance you’ll make a sale.
Don’t bother showing them features or elements that are irrelevant, and always ask if there’s anything else they’d like to see.
There’s no need to show the entire platform because not all of it will be relevant to each specific client. Plus, it drags the demo out and turns into too much show and tell.
Instead, I think the best demos are ones where you talk to the client and take a more relationship-led approach - you’re trying to solve a business challenge together. Don’t show and tell, ask and demonstrate. Turn this from a sales pitch into more of a consultative conversation. There’s a reason some of the best salespeople were consultants, they know how to drive conversations and act as a guide.
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Make sure you know your product inside and out as well. This helps you answer all the technical questions that you’ll likely face. Be open and honest about everything; don’t lie and say that your product does something it actually can’t. Speak to your product management and development team before any demos and ensure you’re updated on all the elements of the software. It could even be handy to have them nearby just in case you can’t answer a question and need some more technical expertise.
Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but this demo is not about you, it’s about the customer! Some of the B2B SaaS product demos I witnessed were so...how do I put it...self-centred? I’m not trying to be negative, I just mean that the demonstrator seemed to talk too much about themselves and their company. They didn’t ask me for my opinions!Always, always, always ask your prospects about the demo. Does it answer their initial question? This helps you see if your demo is useful or not. If it hasn’t fully answered their question, then ask for more specifics and show them things that answer it.
Also, ask if they can see themselves using it. This puts them on the spot, and you’ll be surprised how many people say yes. If they say no, then ask why. You might find that your software doesn’t solve the problem, or what you have showed isn’t relevant, it doesn’t suit their business model or process, etc. Don’t try and force your product down their throats if it solves their main issues but they just can’t see themselves using it.
...But a customer using it is. Cool features don’t sell products - business cases sell a product.
Hold up, what am I talking about? It’s the idea that you frame some features as being ‘cool’ or ‘innovative’. These are buzzwords I’ve heard at many a B2B SaaS product demo, but they don’t mean anything without context. Essentially, you have to prove that your features are actually ‘cool’ or ‘innovative’ through use cases. Show examples of your software in action and how the features have improved certain aspects of the business in question.
That’s what your customers want to see! If you tell them your features are cool, then it pretty much means nothing to them.
I’m sure buyers are pretty tired of hearing the same spiel at product demos. My software will help solve all of your problems, and it’s the only thing you need, blah, blah, blah.
Okay, maybe it’s not always as blatant as that, but this is what I hear whenever I’m at a demo. It’s this idea that the software alone is the solution to all of the problems the business faces. This is simply not true at all. Your software can help solve some issues, but it’s often part of an overall solution. It will likely be most effective when used alongside other pieces of software, or when in the right hands.
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So, stop overstating expectations and making it seem like you hold the key to business success and efficiency in your hands. Be honest about your product and explain how it will help address different key business issues. But, be sure to note that implementing software is a complicated business and involves a lot of changes to the company. Tell your customer that other things may be needed alongside the software if they really want to see changes.
Customers need time to think before making a decision. I hate it when someone is showing me a demo, and they try and push me to make a decision right then and there. Sometimes, you might make a sale right away, but the chances are slim.
Instead, you need to think of the demo as an input session - a time for you to showcase your product, provide some information, and that’s it. Your customer can go away, sleep on the decision, then come back to you with a decision - don't put them in the spotlight demanding an answer straight away.
You might be asked to go through the demo a couple more times at different dates, possibly even showing it to various members of their team. Don’t be hot and heavy and try forcing their hand. Provide your input, and let the customer decide in their own time.
When the demo is finished, you will go your separate ways as you await their decision. Now, you need to follow up effectively.
Don’t send constant emails or messages asking them if they’ve made their mind up yet. You could send out an email a few hours after the demonstration just reminding the prospect what they’ve seen, thanking them for their time, and answering any questions you couldn’t answer at the time. Side note: that’s another crucial thing to remember. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer to a question. Tell the customer you’ll do some research and get back to them in an email. This is way better than trying to give a BS answer!
When you follow-up, try and give them context for a decision. Demonstrate a degree of openness and explain how you can help them, but also where the risks may lie and the things that can be done to mitigate those risks. Give suggestions on what they can do to overcome these drawbacks, and continue to position yourself as someone who wants to help.
Following up like this can help sway decisions as your prospect will like your honesty and can see you’re willing to help. One email a few hours after the demo is a good start, then maybe send another in a few working days if you’ve received no response - but don’t spam!
Your product can’t sell itself, so it needs a demo. The key thing I want to drive home is that the demo is part of the buying and decision-making process, not the sales process, it’s a part of the process that belongs to the customer, not to you. And always remembers it’s not where the decision will be made! Use it as a platform to provide insight and information, rather than as a massive sales pitch.
Be smart about how you manage the process and do plenty of research into each prospect before the demo. Stop focusing too much on all of your features and talk more about how different elements of your product can solve problems.
Most importantly, no two demos should be identical. Ask lots of questions and tailor your approach to meet the needs of every customer you deal with.