How to ensure that your B2B SaaS demos don't suck


Click on “Ask for a Demo’.

It’s the CTA on every B2B SaaS website.

But what happens after the click?

How do companies educate, and delight prospects?

In many ways, the demo is almost taken for granted within the marketing process.

Marketers are focused on messaging, value propositions and content to attract and engage.

The demo belongs to sales.

But that’s the wrong approach.

The demo should be a coordinated effort between sales and marketing.

A demo is a golden opportunity to encourage, inspire and showcase your product in the right way.

If marketing isn’t involved in this crucial process, that’s a mistake. 

High. It's Mark Evans and you'relistening to marketing spark. For beating marketers and salespeople, the demo is theholy grail. If they can convince a prospect to do a demo, theworld is their oyster. Once prospects feed see firsthand of products value, it'sonly a matter of time before our purchase happens, or so the theory goes. In some ways, a demo is a marketing channel managed by the salesteam. To get into the value of demos and how to do them right, we're talking with Karrysikowski, president of pre sales mastery, which does demoperformance for BTB software companies. Welcome to marketing spark. Carry thanks mark,great to be here. Why don't we start with looking at the state ofthe Demo? Where we at and how do you see the alignment between salesand marketing? At the end of the day, a demo is something thathappens because of marketing activity and if a demo is successful, then you geta sale, which ties back into marketing performance. How are demos being usedwithin the BDB software world and where the areas for improvement, or were areaswhere companies can optimize how they do demos? Great, great question and multilayered forsure. So it's an interesting time for for pre sales right now inthat there's a whole slew of venture capital dollars being invested into tooling for thespace. For a long time precells has been sort of the neglected portion ofsales in terms of investment in really good solutions to help automate and make presellsprofessionals more efficient in their job and when for most be to be organizations,preseals a sort of the secret sauce that really is going to determine whether ornot a sale happens or not. We've been, you know, criminally underservice to this point. So this is an exciting time that now the toolingspace is starting to grow. I think what one of the things that thenew solutions that are coming to the space is really enabled is a big pushon really pushing product led growth into the enterprise space. A lot of BobOrganization, or sorry, a lot of SNB organizations, have really led interms of product led growth by allowing their prospects to sort of trial their softwareright, you know, get on the website, sign up for a demoor trial, you know, get into it, start using it without anyformal training or any sort of gatekeeping, and it becomes a function of how, you know, how effectively can we convert those trials into paying customers?In enterprise that's a lot harder to do. Enterprise solutions are typically much more complexthan more difficult to use. They they require formal training for you goingto do it and in a lot of cases they're just not conducive to providingsort of a free trial sandbox for people... use. But when that's thesort of buying behavior that more and more people are becoming accustomed to, Ithink in a lot of ways influenced by the fact that if you think abouthow you buy most consumer type of APPS or technology today, that's how youbuy right you buy you want to, you want to trial a new software, you're going to go download that APP or you're going to go to thewebsite and try a free trial, which almost all be to seat type toolsallow you to do. And so buyers are taking that expectation into the BBworld. And so what's really nice is that there's a whole slew of sortof demo automation type tools and solutions now coming into presales that are starting tomake it more realistic for enterprise software companies to satisfy the sort of product likegrowth requirement in terms of a from the consumers perspective, get me access tothe product much sooner in the sales cycle and without having to go through tonsof qualification and discovery and talking to three different sales people or have five differentcalls. And as well from this, from the Software Company's perspective, itmakes it easier for them to now sort of let the clients self qualify ratherthan than having to put, you know, expensive sales resources on doing that foreach individual prospect that comes through the door. If you look at everysingle bdb software website, this one of the main CTA's is asked for ademo. Obviously they want to have conversations, they want prospects to connect with presalesor sales right away so that they can get them into the pipeline.When I'm wondering about is whether there's a lot of thought that goes into whathappens after the click. The CTA is great, but how much? Whatkind of workflows, what kind of processes, what kind of communication tools that companiesare implementing when it comes to the post click activity. Are A lotof companies unprepared or just not structured properly. You know what our best practices interms of making that demo experience or that demo flow as seamless and asdelightful as possible? Excellent question. I think unfortunately, too little is beingdone after the click. In fact, I think probably in a lot ofcases too little is done even before the click, right, because ideally wedon't just want people to Click on show me a demo, we'd like tocapture something from them in terms of what they're looking for as part of thatDemo, right. And so I think they're sort of two paths that organizationsare taking after the click right now. One is to funnel them into sortof an autodemo where they can basically view a demo or download a demo towatch on their own, versus the other path, which is they're going topush them to some sort of salesperson who's then going to go through the normalqualification process before actually allowing them to get... down. That get a demobutton is kind of like a red herring. It's like, oh good, wegot you. You know, we got your cod now we're going toreally in the same way we would normally do by, you know, coldcalling you or email you the first place. So I think those are sort ofthe two main paths I'm seeing. But I think you know, ideallythat buttons clicked and then there are some qualification questions that come up after that. There's a couple really cool tools around demo automation and support these sort ofself service demos, and all of those tools ideally are are do a goodjob of trying to segment those sort of auto demos by persona, by Industry, by critical business issue, that sort of thing, so they have multipleexamples of demos they can serve out to that audience. The goal is findout which one is most appropriate for the person clicking that button then to makesure that gets deliberous as soon as possible so you can sort of have thatinstinct gratification the buyers looking for the prospects of for I see demos that thepost. As for a demo click happening in two ways. One is thatyou could see it and envision of world and where people are build your owndemo. So come to this demo form, tell us what you're interested in,tell us what your pains are, and then automagically, a demo willbe created that will be customized or personalized to their pains, goals, needs, what have you. And the second part of the process is that communicationsflow. So once you know what people are struggling with, what they're lookingfor, then you can personalize the whole drip marketing campaign around them specifically.Actually, what happens is you almost have this sort of enhanced nurturing impact oryou know this this nurturing tool on it on steroids. Is that happening rightnow or is that kind of thing that people are actually going to have tostrive for as we get into personalization and really producing marketing it that's relevant andon target? I can't tell you if it's happening ubiquitously. I will tellyou there. I mean the Nice thing is the way that the these demoautomation tools work. They're sort of two approaches. There's one where they're justbuilding multiple assets based on a certain like I said, persona industry, criticalbusinesses, whatever, and it's either the sales reps job to determine what they'reright it is or, hopefully they've automated that through, like you said,the marketing team or the website to ask those questions and automatically serve up theright one. So it's not that it has to be created on the spot, it's it's already there. It's a function of based on the questions andthe answers that are asked to those questions, we know which one to surveyd.There's another organization in the Demo atomation space that takes a somewhat different approach. They're almost like the equivalent of a video choose your own adventure. OrBasically, they will query the audience on what issues are most important to themand they'll have them actually order them in word of priority and then they willauto stitch together a set of sort of... snippets into a longer demo andserve that out to them. I think what's really exciting about all of thesetools in this particular subcategory is not only are they going to support, likeyou said, a much more personalized sort of marketing drip campaign and that kindof stuff, they provide really interesting data. So they'll actually report back on whoseaccessed to those particular demo assets and what portions of the Demo assets they'vebeen on. So how long did they spend in the Demo ascid in total, and then how long did they spend on each screen? So if Iknow they've spent a lot of time, for example, on a particular dashboard, I now know, and I'm reaching back at well, maybe there wasa particular, you know, report on that Dashboard. That's resonating with themand that's something I should concentrate on my messaging. I can all they alsodo things like if they're shared. So they'll provide this APP that led intothe asset. If you want to share that with someone else the organization,before you log into view it, you've got to add your email address.And so now all of a sudden some one goes to click on that buttonsays I want to see the demo, the answer their questions. They getthe demo and they say this is really cool, I want these other threepeople in my organization to see this, and they send them an email withthe link. Now when those new three New People Click on, they answeredtheir email address and now all of a sudden I, as an organization,have for people that I can reach out to in that organization instead of justthe one. So it helps these organizations go really broad inside the raisation,which we all know is a key success, given that everything is, you know, a team by and a bye bye committee, and most of themust be to be software sales. So really cool functionality there. That soundsextremely cool and it sounds like demos, advanced demos, demos what they shouldbe, because most demos are pretty boring right now. Are Pretty traditional.You fill out the form, you click submit, a salesperson calls you orsends you a series of emails and then they give you the demo. NotTerribly inspiring and doesn't deliver a lot of value, not personalized at all.So I can definitely see why a whole lot of low hanging fruit when itcomes to the demo landscape. The other thing that I wanted to ask youabout is that in the BB software world, marketing and sales for the most partoperate in silos. Sales complains that marketing doesn't give them good enough leads. Marketing complaints that sales can't close deals, and then there's internal bickering and fightingabout WHO's to blame. One of the things that I'm wondering about whenit comes to demos is how much influence or involvement should marketing have in thewhole demo process? And you might think that sales would say no, thisis our world, we should control it. You guys stay out. You've doneyour job getting people to take a demo. From from that point onit's up to us. But I'm wondering whether they should in fact work togetherand move forward and lockstep to make demos more effective. It's an interesting question. I think that one thing I think marketing could probably do enhance the processis find ways to be a little bit more personalized in terms of the valuemessaging. They get. Still different out... prospects, right, every prospectsthinks there and ultimately unique, and whether they are or not as up fordebate. But everybody thinks they're unique. And while a lot of websites,for example, are going to show sort of generic value props or try andgo as broad as possible, ultimately most buyers are unsophisticated buyers. They don'tbuy software as a general rule, and people aren't generally very good and envisioningwhat a particular software solution is going to mean to them based on a genericdemo or through generic messaging. They really need to see their specific problems representedin the software and how it's going to address their workflows and their processes,they're reporting, their data, etc. To truly understand that that's the rightsolution for them, which is why you ultimately end up getting, you know, the second third demos to prove a concepts where you've actually configured this offtwareto be specific to those prospects. All right, because ultimately they need tosee that, and so maybe we're marketing can add a little bit more valueis finding ways to differentiate the message up front so that the value props moreclosely aligned to more specific challenges that individual prospects have, versus sort of abroad set that in general, overarchingly apply but aren't necessarily as specific as theycould be. The other thing I can think about is one of the thingsthat I coach on my clients in terms of improving their demo performance, iswe really need to be storytellers when we're giving a demo. Right, everybodywants to and and and there's a lot there's big reason for this. Righta stories. There's a lot of science behind the impact of stories and I'msure you probably know this even more than I do, given that your background, but stories really improve people's memory of what they're being exposed to. Right, if you hear something in context of a story, it's going to bemore memorable than if you just hear a Jew York state. When you cantell stuff in the context of the story, whether it's something that happened to anotherprospect or a client that you have or something that you, as asalesperson experience, and you can relate that to the prospect, they're going torelate to that more effectively and they're going to take it back with them.So they're going to they're going to actually respond to that better. I thinkin general, marketing is much better at telling stories the sales are, anda lot of cases they're usually exposed to more information around those stories, andso we're one liary. I think we're marketing might be able to help salesis in helping them actually prove how they tell stories, whether it's getting moremore stories from existing clients right and crafting better messaging around that, or just, you know, wordsmithing even existing stories in a much more effective way.That's an interesting concept because I see storytelling within the BB software world as avirtuous activity. So a lot of marketers don't have enough exposure to prospects andcustomers. For whatever reason, they're not in the field, they're not talkingto customers on a regular basis. Meanwhile sales is talking to prospects all thetime, customer service or customer success are...

...talking to customers on a regular basisand all that has to be fed back into marketing and then arm with thatknowledge. Marketing then can feed those stories, can package those stories back into salesso that demos can be more compelling, they can resonate, they can makean impact because you can picture that experience, you can paint that experiencefor us prospect and I think that's one of the reasons why marketing and sales, if they can collaborate, if they can work together, they can makethe demo experience powerful, personalized, customized and really enhanced or accelerate the salesprocess. So I think there's huge potential for a unified approach to demos asopposed to simply be in the realm of sales. Yeah, totally agree.When we look at the way that marketers assess their own performance or quantify whatthey do. Obviously the MQL has been the king of the hill and increasinglyit's being a viscerated because there's not a lot of value when you really lookat it in terms of MQL. Somebody who downloads an ebook and provides anemail address, well, that's just an expression of interest. That's not areally signal buyers intent. Some marketers will rally around the MQL. Some ofthem will move up stream and go to a sales qualified leader, an esqul. And I'm wondering how Demos and the number of demos in the performanceof demos and how demos convert into sales can be tied back into marketing performancebecause, when you think about it, a good bedb marketer really is aboutconversions, whether the conversion happens right away or whether it happens after demo.But if you can get people to convert and if demos are part of thatconversion formula, then it just makes sense that marketers should be able to quantifytheir performance based on the number of demos or the effectiveness of demos. Doyou agree with that and how do you tie that into the Quanti quantification game? I think one easy way to do it is it would be. It'dbe very interesting to see if your if companies are not already doing this.I think a plinth probably are. They the percentage of both mqls and sqlsthat advanced to a demo, right, and then from a demo, actuallyadvanced to a story of a generic or intro demo into a more structure orcustomized demo. Right. In a lot of cases you got to do both, because there are good chunk of sales people out there that use the demoas a crutch. Right, we're ultimately they're not even interested in, youknow, qualifying predemo. They're just like, great, you want to see ademo, I want to show you a demo. It's not on me, it's on my my my solution engineer or my sales engineer to do it. I'm going to show everybody that wants to see you on a demo,and that should never happen. Right. They should always be qualified, notbecause we don't want to waste time on people who aren't going to buy,which is absolutely true, but even more so because in the demo world right, the the the Gospel is you should...

...never ever be delivering a generic demoright. It should never happen. There should never be a spray and pray, Harbor Harbor Cruis like, you know, show me everything of God and hopethat something sticks, kind of Demo. That's just not effective for anybody.And so you should always be doing proper discovery ahead of time to makesure that you're focusing on what's important to the client or the prospect. Andso I think that measuring sort of the transition the or the progression rates fromfrom mqlsql into those different Demo steps as but I know that most deals organizationsare tracking sort of the funnel progression any each of those steps because, ifanything, they're just a great way to find out where you're you're getting stuck. I don't think in a lot of cases there's a situation where if thedemo doesn't win the deal, it was a bad, badly qualified deal formarketing or anything like that. It could just be there's lots of other thingsthat are happening in that demo me that didn't go demi go wrong or whenwe got to deep discovery, we are solution wasn't a good fit for somereason, or if there wasn't budget. But you're not going to starily findthat out right up front, and even if there is no budget still doesn'tmean you're the qualify them out and not do a demo. So I thinkthere's a lot there that you can unpack to track that. I'm just I'mnot sure how marketing should necessarily be tracked based on the Demos, outside ofsort of what percentage of what they're throwing over the fence actually turns into whatsales deems is a qualified prospect to show a demo and eve the generic kindof customized dem up. At a high level, I think that if you'regoing to assess the performance of marketers, obviously you're going to look at whatthe website does, number of downloads, number of unique visitors. You knownumber of total visitors, and if the CTA is one of the major CTA'sis asked for Demo, then you have to add demo requests into the marketingassessment mix. I think there's a lot of thinking of companies aren't already doingit. They should be thinking about how to embrace demos as a way asa KPI. I'm curious about getting some insight into what you do at presalesmastery the kind of companies that you work with. What kind of things areyou trying to help them with? Is it simply improving how sales people doDemos, or is there more to it than that? When we think aboutimproving sales, the the most effective thing in terms of uplift of sales success, in terms of wind rates and sort of attainment to quota, coaching is, as Lots stizes to the coaching is the single most effective thing you cando. All right, and so I do wander on one coaching with anyonein the organization, primarily the pre sales organization, that is delivering demos toprospects, and I work with them usually over sort of three month engagements whereI'm coaching them on actual demos that they've delivered to live prospects. So I'lltake a recorded demo that's been delivered to a prospect uploaded into my online coachingplatform provide a very detailed set of feedback...

...around what they've actually delivered in thewild. All Right, so I'm coaching on real behavior that happens in thefield, not something that's in a simulated sort of internal training environment. Ialso have a ninety five metric sort of demo best practice is framework that Iscore every individual against on every demo that they do, and so what thatallows me to do is really sort of objectively identify where each of the skillgaps might be for every individual and track progress over time as they improve.So it really moves the dial in uplifting and a fairly fast for the quickmanner, the the overall level of demo delivery and execution by whether it's apre cells person or in a count exact. So where can people learn more aboutyou and pre cells mastery? Best place is to go to our website. It's pre cells masterycom. Or feel free to reach out to meet carrySakolski at Linkedin. Feel free to reach out any time I'm having a chatabout about helping you when more business through better demos. Well, thanks forinsight, Terry, and thanks everyone for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review, subscribe by Itunes,spotify or your favorite podcast APP and share via social media. If you'd liketo learn more about how I help me Tob sads companies as a fractional cmostrategic advisor and coach. Send an email to mark at marketing spark dotcom.I'll talk to you next time. I.

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