Product demos are one of the most critical components of strong product marketing and sales for SaaS organizations. A great product demo creates an urgency to buy, while a bad product demo sends prospects running. Software product demos can also be incredibly valuable for startups who don’t have the luxury of a formalized product marketing function or dedicated sales engineers.
If you’re scratching your head over new ways to improve your sales and product marketing efforts, creating a memorable product demo could be the answer, and it’s not that much work.
The reality is that a product demo can either make or break a sale, especially in the latter part of the sales process. In this post, we’ll go over the finer points of product demos, key benefits, and how to create a more memorable product demo that fills the pipeline with quality prospects and creates a greater urgency to get the deal done.
What is a Product Demo?
A product demo is a verbal value story. Sure, it showcases the key features and benefits of your solution, but more importantly, it tells a story that resonates with buyers. That’s what makes it memorable.
It’s the key “first impression” potential customers will have of your product. A product demo typically takes the form of a live/virtual presentation or pre-recorded video. SaaS product demos are typically delivered in one or all of the following formats.
- A pre-recorded demo on your website for the purpose of generating leads.
- A short introductory demo early in the sales process.
- A personalized demo after certain prospect qualification criteria have been met.
The common thread, regardless of format, is consistently articulating your value story in a way that’s memorable. More on the memorable part below.
Product Demo vs. Free Trial
Product demos are distinctly different from free trials in that they are guided demonstrations of your product. They’re also often tailored to a specific prospect to showcase certain product features and benefits that add value to their organization.
A free trial allows users to test out your software for themselves (often with limited access to certain features). Product demos usually come before free trials in a sales sequence, if trials are offered at all.
Why Should You Offer a Pre-Recorded Product Demo?
When done right, product demos can be powerful marketing tools and a great way to screen qualified prospects from tire kickers. Why? Because these demos give real-world examples of how your product works to solve customer issues and deliver valuable business outcomes. If there’s genuine interest, qualified prospects will contact you to start the sales process in earnest.
Product demos also generate excitement about your product and cultivate an overall positive association with your brand. For buyers who desire some form of relationship-building before making a purchase, a product demo is the perfect time to get to know prospective clients and form a rapport. In many cases, the demo itself doesn’t matter as much as the connection does.
When Should You Deliver a Live Product Demo?
As mentioned, personalized product demos are powerful sales tools. Once you’ve qualified a lead, inviting them to join you on a product demo is the natural next step. However, crafting highly customized product demos takes time; you need to research the prospective client in much greater depth to learn what their goals are, and script the demo, often with custom data.
Customized product demos are best suited for clients that are anticipated to have a high lifetime value. If your product is a pay-per-seat model, for example, large companies will be more valuable leads with a high return on investment if the product demo proves fruitful. Smaller companies requiring fewer seats are by no means bad leads, but the cost of a highly customized product demo may not be justified by their lifetime customer value.
Who Delivers the Product Demo?
Deciding who delivers the product demo is largely dependent on the size of the company. For startups, the founder (and often sole proprietor) typically presents the product demo.
There are pros and cons to founders giving product demos. Founders often know a great deal about the product itself, especially during the early launch stages. Buyers, who tend to be executives themselves, appreciate speaking with fellow executives. Founders aren’t always equipped to give compelling demonstrations though, because they’re too technical. Founders may also lack the sales skills necessary to close deals.
For larger companies, sales representatives, sales engineers or (less often) account managers typically deliver product demos to prospective customers. Having trained, experienced sales engineers give product demos is the best possible scenario because it’s their primary job vs. sales representatives that are primarily responsible for orchestrating the sales process and focusing on the politics of the decision making process. These experienced sales engineers can develop relationships with prospects easily and speak more credibly to the business issues the product supports.
How Long Should a Product Demo Last?
The length of a product demo in B2B depends on the stage of the marketing or sales process.
- A pre-recorded demo on your website for the purpose of generating leads should ideally be 3 minutes, 5 tops.
- In the early stages of the sales process, typically during the initial discovery, the demo (if you have to give one) should be no more than 30 minutes and should be used to further facilitate the discovery conversation. Keep it light on detail, as you have no idea what you’re aiming for in terms of WHY the buyer is ultimately evaluating your solution.
- Once a prospect has been qualified, a personalized demo of 1-2 hours is typical. This allows you to speak eloquently about the buyer’s goals and obstacles and how your product eliminates those obstacles to get specific outcomes.
What Makes a Product Demo Memorable?
A cool looking product goes a long way toward a memorable demo, but that’s not the most important thing that sticks with prospective buyers. The one thing that buyers will remember more than anything else is the presenter’s knowledge of their business!
If you can present from a “been there, done that” perspective, your credibility soars. It creates the perception that your product is better than the competition because you’re more knowledgeable about the customer’s business. Prospects don’t buy because they understand you. They buy because you understand them!
We recommend crafting a strong value story and multiple supporting scenarios for your product demo focused on specific job tasks, obstacles and outcomes and how your product delivers better outcomes that have value to the users as well as the organization (buyers).
The scenarios should be common or relevant to your prospective client; think of common goals or issues that are critical to their success and demonstrate how your product helps achieve their desired outcomes. Scenarios are fairly easy to craft if you have a strong understanding of customer personas–just keep in mind whether you’re giving the demonstration to prospective users or prospective buyers.
Tips for More Memorable Product Demos
SaaS product demonstrations are only as good as the person delivering them. Give amazing product demos with these tips.
An overly rehearsed product demo can sound monotonous and dry to prospective customers. The last thing you want is for your audience to be bored by your demo. Keep things conversational and engaging so your lead doesn’t doze off. No feature dumps!
Keep it Tight
Always stick to your allotted time and end your portion of the demo early if possible. This typically takes practice, so don’t go into a product demo unprepared. Know your scenarios inside and out so you don’t go scrambling for answers when prospective clients ask questions. Proper discovery helps in this area so you can anticipate which questions and concerns they might have and answer them ahead of time.
Ask Insightful Questions
Asking the right questions can make any product demo a home run. Ask open-ended questions that foster the business conversation, rather than ramble on about every feature your product has. For example, “Why is it so difficult to accomplish X right now?”
Asking insightful questions can also clarify assumptions you might have about the client’s organization.
Customize the Demo/Dialogue for The Customer
A custom demo isn’t required for every prospect. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of showing the same scenarios with a different dialogue that’s specific to each prospect. When possible, give a product demo that uses vocabulary specific to the customer and highlights scenarios that will directly benefit them. This not only demonstrates your knowledge of the customer but also addresses questions the customer might have right out of the gate.
Learn more: How to Make a Product Demo Video That Converts Leads to Customers
Level Up Your Product Demos
Product demos that articulate a value story are far more powerful than feature-based demos. With a well-crafted product demo that focuses on target customer outcomes and their strategic value, you should be able to move deals forward with ease. To learn more about creating impactful product demos that create greater urgency to get the deal done, check out our Product Demo Course.
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by John Mansour on November 29, 2022.