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're listening to marketing spark. For beating marketers and salespeople, the demo is the holy grail. If they can convince a prospect to do a demo, the world is their oyster. Once prospects feed see firsthand of products value, it's only 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 sales team. 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 demo performance 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 of the Demo? Where we at and how do you see the alignment between sales and marketing? At the end of the day, a demo is something that happens because of marketing activity and if a demo is successful, then you get a sale, which ties back into marketing performance. How are demos being used within the BDB software world and where the areas for improvement, or were areas where companies can optimize how they do demos? Great, great question and multilayered for sure. So it's an interesting time for for pre sales right now in that there's a whole slew of venture capital dollars being invested into tooling for the space. For a long time precells has been sort of the neglected portion of sales in terms of investment in really good solutions to help automate and make presells professionals 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 or not a sale happens or not. We've been, you know, criminally under service to this point. So this is an exciting time that now the tooling space is starting to grow. I think what one of the things that the new solutions that are coming to the space is really enabled is a big push on really pushing product led growth into the enterprise space. A lot of Bob Organization, or sorry, a lot of SNB organizations, have really led in terms of product led growth by allowing their prospects to sort of trial their software right, you know, get on the website, sign up for a demo or trial, you know, get into it, start using it without any formal 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 complex than more difficult to use. They they require formal training for you going to do it and in a lot of cases they're just not conducive to providing sort of a free trial sandbox for people... use. But when that's the sort of buying behavior that more and more people are becoming accustomed to, I think in a lot of ways influenced by the fact that if you think about how you buy most consumer type of APPS or technology today, that's how you buy 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 the website and try a free trial, which almost all be to seat type tools allow you to do. And so buyers are taking that expectation into the BB world. And so what's really nice is that there's a whole slew of sort of demo automation type tools and solutions now coming into presales that are starting to make it more realistic for enterprise software companies to satisfy the sort of product like growth requirement in terms of a from the consumers perspective, get me access to the product much sooner in the sales cycle and without having to go through tons of qualification and discovery and talking to three different sales people or have five different calls. And as well from this, from the Software Company's perspective, it makes it easier for them to now sort of let the clients self qualify rather than than having to put, you know, expensive sales resources on doing that for each individual prospect that comes through the door. If you look at every single bdb software website, this one of the main CTA's is asked for a demo. Obviously they want to have conversations, they want prospects to connect with presales or 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 what happens after the click. The CTA is great, but how much? What kind of workflows, what kind of processes, what kind of communication tools that companies are implementing when it comes to the post click activity. Are A lot of companies unprepared or just not structured properly. You know what our best practices in terms of making that demo experience or that demo flow as seamless and as delightful as possible? Excellent question. I think unfortunately, too little is being done after the click. In fact, I think probably in a lot of cases too little is done even before the click, right, because ideally we don't just want people to Click on show me a demo, we'd like to capture something from them in terms of what they're looking for as part of that Demo, right. And so I think they're sort of two paths that organizations are taking after the click right now. One is to funnel them into sort of an autodemo where they can basically view a demo or download a demo to watch on their own, versus the other path, which is they're going to push them to some sort of salesperson who's then going to go through the normal qualification process before actually allowing them to get... down. That get a demo button is kind of like a red herring. It's like, oh good, we got you. You know, we got your cod now we're going to really in the same way we would normally do by, you know, cold calling you or email you the first place. So I think those are sort of the two main paths I'm seeing. But I think you know, ideally that 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 of self service demos, and all of those tools ideally are are do a good job of trying to segment those sort of auto demos by persona, by Industry, by critical business issue, that sort of thing, so they have multiple examples of demos they can serve out to that audience. The goal is find out which one is most appropriate for the person clicking that button then to make sure that gets deliberous as soon as possible so you can sort of have that instinct gratification the buyers looking for the prospects of for I see demos that the post. As for a demo click happening in two ways. One is that you could see it and envision of world and where people are build your own demo. So come to this demo form, tell us what you're interested in, tell us what your pains are, and then automagically, a demo will be created that will be customized or personalized to their pains, goals, needs, what have you. And the second part of the process is that communications flow. So once you know what people are struggling with, what they're looking for, 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 or you know this this nurturing tool on it on steroids. Is that happening right now or is that kind of thing that people are actually going to have to strive for as we get into personalization and really producing marketing it that's relevant and on target? I can't tell you if it's happening ubiquitously. I will tell you there. I mean the Nice thing is the way that the these demo automation tools work. They're sort of two approaches. There's one where they're just building multiple assets based on a certain like I said, persona industry, critical businesses, whatever, and it's either the sales reps job to determine what they're right 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 the right 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 and the 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. Or Basically, they will query the audience on what issues are most important to them and they'll have them actually order them in word of priority and then they will auto stitch together a set of sort of... snippets into a longer demo and serve that out to them. I think what's really exciting about all of these tools in this particular subcategory is not only are they going to support, like you said, a much more personalized sort of marketing drip campaign and that kind of stuff, they provide really interesting data. So they'll actually report back on whose accessed to those particular demo assets and what portions of the Demo assets they've been 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 I know 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 was a particular, you know, report on that Dashboard. That's resonating with them and that's something I should concentrate on my messaging. I can all they also do things like if they're shared. So they'll provide this APP that led into the 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 button says I want to see the demo, the answer their questions. They get the demo and they say this is really cool, I want these other three people in my organization to see this, and they send them an email with the link. Now when those new three New People Click on, they answered their 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 just the 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 the must be to be software sales. So really cool functionality there. That sounds extremely cool and it sounds like demos, advanced demos, demos what they should be, because most demos are pretty boring right now. Are Pretty traditional. You fill out the form, you click submit, a salesperson calls you or sends you a series of emails and then they give you the demo. Not Terribly 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 it comes to the demo landscape. The other thing that I wanted to ask you about is that in the BB software world, marketing and sales for the most part operate 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 fighting about WHO's to blame. One of the things that I'm wondering about when it comes to demos is how much influence or involvement should marketing have in the whole demo process? And you might think that sales would say no, this is our world, we should control it. You guys stay out. You've done your job getting people to take a demo. From from that point on it's up to us. But I'm wondering whether they should in fact work together and 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 process is find ways to be a little bit more personalized in terms of the value messaging. They get. Still different out... prospects, right, every prospects thinks there and ultimately unique, and whether they are or not as up for debate. 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 and go as broad as possible, ultimately most buyers are unsophisticated buyers. They don't buy software as a general rule, and people aren't generally very good and envisioning what a particular software solution is going to mean to them based on a generic demo or through generic messaging. They really need to see their specific problems represented in 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 right solution 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 offtware to be specific to those prospects. All right, because ultimately they need to see that, and so maybe we're marketing can add a little bit more value is finding ways to differentiate the message up front so that the value props more closely aligned to more specific challenges that individual prospects have, versus sort of a broad set that in general, overarchingly apply but aren't necessarily as specific as they could be. The other thing I can think about is one of the things that I coach on my clients in terms of improving their demo performance, is we really need to be storytellers when we're giving a demo. Right, everybody wants to and and and there's a lot there's big reason for this. Right a stories. There's a lot of science behind the impact of stories and I'm sure 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 be more memorable than if you just hear a Jew York state. When you can tell stuff in the context of the story, whether it's something that happened to another prospect or a client that you have or something that you, as a salesperson experience, and you can relate that to the prospect, they're going to relate 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 think in general, marketing is much better at telling stories the sales are, and a lot of cases they're usually exposed to more information around those stories, and so we're one liary. I think we're marketing might be able to help sales is in helping them actually prove how they tell stories, whether it's getting more more 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 a virtuous activity. So a lot of marketers don't have enough exposure to prospects and customers. For whatever reason, they're not in the field, they're not talking to customers on a regular basis. Meanwhile sales is talking to prospects all the time, customer service or customer success are...

...talking to customers on a regular basis and all that has to be fed back into marketing and then arm with that knowledge. Marketing then can feed those stories, can package those stories back into sales so that demos can be more compelling, they can resonate, they can make an impact because you can picture that experience, you can paint that experience for 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 make the demo experience powerful, personalized, customized and really enhanced or accelerate the sales process. So I think there's huge potential for a unified approach to demos as opposed 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 what they do. Obviously the MQL has been the king of the hill and increasingly it's being a viscerated because there's not a lot of value when you really look at it in terms of MQL. Somebody who downloads an ebook and provides an email address, well, that's just an expression of interest. That's not a really signal buyers intent. Some marketers will rally around the MQL. Some of them will move up stream and go to a sales qualified leader, an es qul. And I'm wondering how Demos and the number of demos in the performance of demos and how demos convert into sales can be tied back into marketing performance because, when you think about it, a good bedb marketer really is about conversions, 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 that conversion formula, then it just makes sense that marketers should be able to quantify their performance based on the number of demos or the effectiveness of demos. Do you 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'd be 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 sqls that advanced to a demo, right, and then from a demo, actually advanced to a story of a generic or intro demo into a more structure or customized 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 demo as a crutch. Right, we're ultimately they're not even interested in, you know, qualifying predemo. They're just like, great, you want to see a demo, 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, not because 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 demo right. It should never happen. There should never be a spray and pray, Harbor Harbor Cruis like, you know, show me everything of God and hope that 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 make sure that you're focusing on what's important to the client or the prospect. And so I think that measuring sort of the transition the or the progression rates from from mqlsql into those different Demo steps as but I know that most deals organizations are tracking sort of the funnel progression any each of those steps because, if anything, 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 the demo doesn't win the deal, it was a bad, badly qualified deal for marketing or anything like that. It could just be there's lots of other things that are happening in that demo me that didn't go demi go wrong or when we got to deep discovery, we are solution wasn't a good fit for some reason, or if there wasn't budget. But you're not going to starily find that out right up front, and even if there is no budget still doesn't mean you're the qualify them out and not do a demo. So I think there's a lot there that you can unpack to track that. I'm just I'm not sure how marketing should necessarily be tracked based on the Demos, outside of sort of what percentage of what they're throwing over the fence actually turns into what sales deems is a qualified prospect to show a demo and eve the generic kind of customized dem up. At a high level, I think that if you're going to assess the performance of marketers, obviously you're going to look at what the website does, number of downloads, number of unique visitors. You know number of total visitors, and if the CTA is one of the major CTA's is asked for Demo, then you have to add demo requests into the marketing assessment mix. I think there's a lot of thinking of companies aren't already doing it. They should be thinking about how to embrace demos as a way as a KPI. I'm curious about getting some insight into what you do at presales mastery the kind of companies that you work with. What kind of things are you trying to help them with? Is it simply improving how sales people do Demos, or is there more to it than that? When we think about improving 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 can do. All right, and so I do wander on one coaching with anyone in the organization, primarily the pre sales organization, that is delivering demos to prospects, and I work with them usually over sort of three month engagements where I'm coaching them on actual demos that they've delivered to live prospects. So I'll take a recorded demo that's been delivered to a prospect uploaded into my online coaching platform provide a very detailed set of feedback...

...around what they've actually delivered in the wild. All Right, so I'm coaching on real behavior that happens in the field, not something that's in a simulated sort of internal training environment. I also have a ninety five metric sort of demo best practice is framework that I score every individual against on every demo that they do, and so what that allows me to do is really sort of objectively identify where each of the skill gaps 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 quick manner, the the overall level of demo delivery and execution by whether it's a pre cells person or in a count exact. So where can people learn more about you 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 carry Sakolski at Linkedin. Feel free to reach out any time I'm having a chat about about helping you when more business through better demos. Well, thanks for insight, 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 like to learn more about how I help me Tob sads companies as a fractional cmo strategic advisor and coach. Send an email to mark at marketing spark dotcom. I'll talk to you next time. I.

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