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How to create a high-converting SaaS sales demo—a step-by-step guide
Most modern buyers consider demos indispensable when it comes to their decision-making. Your prospects request demos because they know seeing your product in action will aid and accelerate their decision-making process.
But the demo process is hard to dial-in.
If you go overboard on the features and specificities, they may lose interest. If you start by asking questions to uncover more about the situation, they may become annoyed or feel like you’re questioning them.
In this article, I will walk you through how you can set yourself up for success during product demos by avoiding common pitfalls and making the most out of every prospect conversation.
High converting vs. low-converting demos
A high-converting SaaS demo connects you to your prospect’s job to be done. It is meant to demonstrate how you can solve customer pain points with the product. The difficulty is that, of course, not every customer will come to you with the same pain points. A high-converting demo has to be highly adaptable to each prospect.
A good way to think about it is like going to the doctor. Before prescribing any treatment, the doctor must understand what symptoms you are experiencing.
The low-converting demo, however, is usually delivered as a long monologue. It does not change from prospect to prospect. It isn’t personal, and it doesn’t consider their situation when articulating the features. If we use the same metaphor as above, it is like receiving treatment from a doctor who doesn’t know what symptoms you have. Would you feel safe taking that treatment? Neither do your prospects.
The best SaaS demos happen when there is the right mix between diagnosing the pains and prescribing the solutions for your customer’s situation.
According to MindTickle, the best-performing sales reps speak for less than 45% of the first call.
How to create a high-converting SaaS demo
So, how do you go from blindly monologuing to diagnosing and prescribing?
Step 1: Preparation
The lack of proper preparation adds stress to an already high-pressure situation. It often leads to a disconnect with the prospects. They can tell when you've started improvising.
This does not mean you should make the prospect wait for 24 hours or more to get the demo after they fill out the form.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 78% of new business goes to the first responder.
You will have to find the right balance between preparation and agility. If you have to prioritize, prioritize agility and uncover the situation during the call. Maximize the chances of being the first responder to your prospect’s request.
Step 2: Research
Start by researching your customer. Make the most out of the demo form fields they filled out. The amount of research you will be able to do is directly correlated to the information you request in the form.
Ask and write down the answers to the following:
- What could this person potentially be looking for?
- What ICP signals can you identify before the call? (ICP stands for Ideal Customer Profile, if you don’t have one, I recommend you build it as soon as possible. See our guide on “How to create your ideal customer profile (ICP)” to get started.)
- What industry or vertical is their company in? (only applicable for B2B sales)
- Is this prospect the only decision-maker in the sales process, or are there more? (mostly applicable to B2B sales)
The objective is to imagine how your product or service could be useful to that prospect before they enter the room. Regardless of your conclusions, never assume you have the full picture until you talk to the prospect.
You must listen to your prospect first and foremost, using the information uncovered by research to lightly direct the call towards areas of value for them.
Step 3: Questions for your prospect
After looking into your prospect’s situation, prepare questions you want to ask. You can always use a set of templated questions if your research has not revealed much about their situation and potential needs (here’s an example).
Once you have done that, separate your questions into two categories.
Category 1: Factual questions about the buyer’s present way of operating, like:
- How many people would need access to a POS service?
- What turnaround time are you getting from your current SaaS provider?
- What CRM platform do you currently use?
Category 2: Questions about problems, difficulties, or dissatisfaction, like:
- How satisfied are you overall with your present system?
- What are you trying to achieve, and what is preventing you from doing so?
- What problems are you experiencing when it comes to this area?
- The first type of question is related to facts and exploring the buyer’s situation. They are necessary but tiresome for the prospect. Ask these economically.
The second type of question focuses on the challenges or problems a buyer might be facing. These allow the prospect to articulate their pain and needs to you.
Craft different versions of these questions and get your team’s feedback. The end goal of these questions is to uncover what was the main motivator that led your prospect to submit a demo request. Why are they interested? What is in it for them? Once you establish why your prospect is interested, you will have a much easier time prescribing solutions to their symptoms.
Step 4: During the demo
If you have been following the guide, by the time you’ve gotten to the demo call, you have prepared, researched, and created a list of potential questions.
Now it’s showtime.
Prioritize having your video on even if your prospect isn’t on video. There are many benefits to video as opposed to audio/phone calls (read more about that here).
You should briefly introduce yourself and your role at the company. Allow your prospect to tell you what they expect out of the meeting. Do your best to meet those expectations. In front of the prospect, you want to make the interaction meaningful and engaging for them. You will want to avoid speaking for long periods.
You might ask yourself, how do I keep them engaged throughout the 30 minutes? Great question. Let’s take a look at a crucial difference between low-converting and high-converting demos:
It’s easy to get overly excited about presenting your product to someone. In the example above, the presenter sped through the introductions, went straight into a presentation, and quickly lost the prospect's attention.
Your prospect is most engaged when you first pull up the presentation or product. So, what causes them to drift away?
Maybe you said something they didn’t agree with; maybe a notification popped up on their phone. Their attention shifts to something else. That’s natural.
So how do you circumvent this? Let’s take a look at a high-converting demo example:
The most effective way to increase your prospect’s engagement is by asking questions. Does this mean that you need to follow the graph above step-by-step? Not at all.
You might ask multiple questions before presenting a feature, and that’s fine. The key to success here is closely observing your prospect and gauging their level of engagement in the conversation.
When they start to drift away, hook them back in with a thought-provoking question. Think about it: have you ever been able to answer unique questions about your business plan and difficulties without significant focus?
Of course, not all questions are created equal. Some questions will validate you as an authority and showcase value. However, you can also easily lose their attention and respect with questions that are too basic.
To summarize, here are the key things to keep in mind for the call:
- Pay attention to your prospect. Listen.
- Do your best to understand the motivators that caused them to book the meeting
- Hook them back in when they lose focus
- Present your features in a way that addresses their pains
Step 5: Obtaining commitment
You’re close to the finish line. You’ve investigated; you now understand what pains your product will solve for your prospect. In turn, they know how your product or solution can help them get to where they want to go.
What do you do next?
It’s time to get their commitment to taking the next step in the sales process. What that next step is will depend on your product, who you are selling to, and how expensive the solution is.
Closing the call
Generally speaking, solutions with a smaller annual contract value (ACV) and two or fewer decision-makers can be purely transactional. You can sell your prospect on the solution with a single demo call. In this case, ideally, the commitment is the sale.
That’s of course, the ideal scenario, you might still find yourself having two or more meetings to close a deal. You can read more about how to optimize your go-to-market to facilitate transactional sales here.
If your ACV is higher and more decision-makers are involved, the chances of getting a purchase in one call diminish significantly. In this case, the commitment could be:
- A secondary call with more decision-makers involved
- A free trial so your prospect can tinker with the product
- An audit of their current situation
Planning your advances (next steps that lead the conversation forward, but are not closed-won yet) can be invaluable to the buying experience of your prospect.
Fine-tuning and developing a sales cycle for your product isn’t an easy or fast process. However, after actioning each step in this guide, you will have the foundations for a high-converting demo call.
To get the most learnings out of each interaction, you will want to record every call you can (obviously with the consent of your prospect). This will allow you to revisit the call and pinpoint areas of improvement for yourself and your team.
Finally, make sure to log every question you get for sales intelligence. This will allow you to refine your presentation to address commonly highlighted areas of need.
If you have any questions about this article or putting together a demo call, feel free to reach out to me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to discuss it with you!