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I have seen this a million times: sales pipelines filled with “good quality” opportunities that never close. Why is that? Well, here is one reason I see more often than not: making the demo the main selling event. Rushing to demo can kill your deals. Let’s take a look at why this is.
Here is the typical scenario. You are a busy sales rep. You are not one of those sales people that sits at their desk. You get out in front of your buyers and are always meeting new people. You talk about your products and services, and eventually someone tells you about someone you should talk to. You meet with that person and voilà – they ask for a demo of your product.
Yay for you! Or is it? You go back to your management and tell them you need help to prep for a demo. You and a product expert meet and gain some understanding of what the buyer needs. You are ready. You have a lot of stuff to show and you show it all. The buyer asks good questions about your features and functions, you plan for the next meeting, and you gleefully go back and tell your management that the meeting was great and the demo went really well.
Maybe there’s a few follow-up questions with the buyer. But then, nothing. Crickets. You get in to talk to the buyer and they take your meeting, but you can’t seem to progress the deal forward. You can’t get a meeting with their executive management. Or you get the meeting scheduled, but they cancel at the last minute. There’s always something more important for them to do. So the deal languishes in your pipeline.
Just like the previous scenario, you are a busy sales rep and not one who sits at their desk. You get out in front of your buyers and meet new people. But, here’s where the scenario changes…
The buyer agrees to have you in and talk to them, but this time, you are better prepared. You know their company’s goals and priorities. You are very aware of industry trends and can provide examples of how their peer organizations have solved similar issues. You know a bit about each stakeholder based on your research. You don’t want to talk about products and services, so you prepare many open-ended questions to fill any gaps in your knowledge.
What is their desired state versus their current state? What is missing or broken? How could you fix it and help them, or better yet their executive management, reach their priority goals? How is each individual affected by these issues, up and down the organizational hierarchy?
You take the time to ensure the demo is not just throwing things at the wall hoping that something will stick. Instead, the demo is well-constructed so it’s totally geared to the buyer’s business outcomes. It is not a one-way event either. The questions they ask are about how your solution can help them solve business problems and affect financial, reputational or personal goals – not features and functions. And when you want to meet with the executives, they show up to your meeting because they know you understand how you can help them achieve something that is near and dear to their hearts – their MBO, for example.
Now, I can already hear your objections to this approach. You’re thinking, “When a buyer asks for a demo, I do it because I don’t want to lose the opportunity to show my stuff and get in front of them.” I get that. But you need to assess if this is where you should be spending your time. Are they giving you access to the key stakeholders who have budget and decision-making authority? Is the problem you’re prepared to solve a priority for the organization’s executives? Or are they just kicking tires and/or using you as column fodder?
Whatever the reason, use your time wisely. Rushing to demo leads to making it the main selling event. Use the demo to validate if this is a deal that you have a high percentage chance of winning. After sharing what you have gathered to date, ask the executives at the meeting to fill in the gaps of your knowledge. Ensure that you are speaking to the right key executives or identify who they are. Confirm that whatever you sell actually solves a priority business problem the executives care about. In essence, when you do the demo, make sure that it helps you progress the deal. Don’t just do it because they asked.