I witnessed a business software demo again last week, and it struck me what opportunity we are losing by the way we show our crown jewels. So I wondered: What if we’d stop the ‘harbor tours’ and start focusing on solving real problems.
I am pretty sure most of you will agree that far too many experienced presales consultants often think their role is to train the prospect – while the sale has not even happened. Do we believe the decision-makers on the other end of the table are interested in how the menu works, or how you enter a new customer?
Don’t take ‘product demonstration’ too literal. The effect of this is that we’ll more likely confuse the customer, lose their attention, or highlight something irrelevant that they’ll use to disqualify us. Long story short: Most business software demos work counter-productive to sales, and with that, conversion rates are much lower than they should be.
The problem starts with a big one: We don’t have enough insight into the real problem the customer is aiming to solve – and as such, we ‘show around.’ That’s all about doing our homework and creating a straightforward rule: No demos until it’s 100% clear from discovering what’s stopping our prospect from achieving its aspirations.
Making this simple adjustment is a big one: We’ll have a very relevant business discussion with the customer. We can bring our rich experience to the table and ask the right questions upfront to uncover what’s going on (remember, most organizations are not skilled in defining the real problem). With those ingredients, we can address two key questions: ‘What’s the most valuable and most critical use case i.e., problem to solve’ and ‘Do we have what it takes to exceed their expectations?’
Having the answers to these two questions results in clarity. Either we qualify out (which is a good outcome for both parties because you’re not wasting each other’s time), or we qualify in – knowing all the ingredients to enter the next stage: claiming pole position in the sales process. And that’s where Sales & Presales have to become a team.
The role of sales is to paint the big picture, create the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what can be,’ and set presales up shine.
The role of presales is to showcase proof of value (instead of proof of concept) by merely solving the most valuable problem in a way that exceeds the customer’s experience. If that can be done in 30 seconds – perfect. And the best way to solve the problem is to tell a story: orchestrate your demo as if it was a Hollywood movie script. Stories help you connect, set the scene, and demonstrate what life will look like ‘on the other side.’ Stories are memorable, so you will be remembered after you’ve left the building. That’s powerful.
The team-play between Sales and Presales helps you build momentum and grow desire towards the point where the only answer to the call to action is: ‘if this is true, this is what we need.’
When was the last time you critically reviewed the demos your team delivers to your most valuable prospects and customers? What’s your conclusion? Do they help to close the deal or work counter-productive? If the latter – what can you do next to turn that around?