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Why Your SaaS Product Demos Probably Suck

By Ryan Law on Wed, Jul 1, 2015

A product demo should be a valuable tool for getting new customers signed-up to your SaaS product.

Should be.

In a huge number of cases, potentially lucrative demos are quickly turning into a sinkhole of wasted resources. Companies are investing valuable time and energy into running product demos, and instead of growing their business, they're throwing away potential sales.

Today, I'm taking a look at 8 of the most common product demo problems SaaS businesses run into - and showing you how to solve them.

1) You Fail the ‘Why Should I Care?’ Test

It isn’t enough to reel-off a list of features, and expect your audience to immediately understand how awesome your product is. You have to help them connect the dots, and explain exactly why those features are awesome.

Instead of talking about ‘multi-party logins’ and ‘in-app messaging’, you need to paint a picture of your prospect blasting through their next collaborative project in record time, high fiving their colleagues and clocking-out for a cold beer.

2) You Don’t Show What Prospects Want to See

To help prospects care about your product, you first need to understand their motivations. A senior executive at an enterprise company will have very different concerns to a junior manager at a small business – and where one might be motivated by profit, ROI and security, the other may care about time savings, and ease-of-use.

Your demos need to be tailored to the needs of your audience, and designed to showcase the benefits that most directly relate to their passions, problems and pain points. The easiest way to do that is with a buyer persona – allowing you to group your prospects together based on the shared factors that drive their buying process.

3) Your Demo is Too Long

For most SaaS products, 15-minutes should provide ample time to communicate the key benefits of your product. Short, concise demos will prevent the speaker from losing momentum, and the prospect from losing interest – and it’ll be easier to focus the discussion around the unique value proposition of your product.

If you’re struggling to condense your demo down to a more palatable length, chances are you need to go back to basics. Think about who you’re presenting to, and the reasons they need your product, and focus your demo on a handful of key benefits.

4) Your Demo is Too Complicated

Whilst we’re on the topic of time wasting, it’s essential that your demo is super easy to set-up and participate in.

Every minute spent downloading, updating and logging into your demo software is a waste of your prospect’s valuable time. Given that you’re trying to sell prospects on the merits of your own software, any technical hitches here have the potential to reflect pretty poorly on your own business – before the demo has even started.

Keep your demo as simple as possible, and try out one of the many cloud-based services available (we use GoToMeeting).

5) You Use Overly-Technical (or Overly-Simplistic) Language

This boils down to a simple point: know your audience.

If you’re addressing a tech-savvy group of prospects, it’s important to be forthright with technical specifications, and help your audience to understand exactly why your product is an industry innovation. If you’re talking to someone without any technical knowledge, it’s important to dial-back the jargon, and discuss the product in terms they can relate to.

6) Your Demo is a Monologue

Demos need to be two-way conversation.

Whilst a smooth, slick sales pitch can be a powerful tool for winning over the hearts and minds of your audience, it’s just as important to ask for their opinions, and gauge their reaction. If your prospects have any questions or concerns that are preventing them from committing to your product, a Q&A allows you to address and resolve them.

Crucially though, this can go both ways. With particularly talkative audiences, it’s easy to get side-tracked by questions, and bogged down in technical details. This can be just as damaging as a monologue, so do your best to manage the flow of questions, and address concerns at the end.

7) You Offer a Product Demo Too Soon

A demo is a sales-focused offer. In order for your prospect to gain any benefit from a demo, they need to be sales-qualified. Typically, this means that your prospect is:

  1. Aware of the problems they face.
  2. Looking for ways to solve their problem.
  3. Starting to view your business as a potential solution.

Most new prospects don’t fit these criteria, and reaching out with a product demo will only serve to waste both your time and theirs. Worst case scenario, your new prospect may feel overly pressured into a sales decision they aren’t ready for – and they’ll drop out of the buying process altogether.

Instead, reserve your demos for qualified leads: people that have repeatedly engaged with your business, and shown some degree of sales-readiness. You’ll be arranging fewer demos, but you’ll be going into them with a much higher chance of getting people signed-up.

8) You Don’t Take the Next Step

To re-iterate the previous point, a product demo is sales-focused. That means that we’re doing it to serve the ultimate objective of making a sale.

When you’re done with your demo, you need to talk explicitly about the next step – making a deal. If you’ve followed the above tips, you’ve done everything required to persuade qualified prospects of the benefit of your product. From there, it should only be a small step to securing the deal.

If there are any reservations, you need to ask ‘What can we do to help you move forward with our product?’

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