What is a sure way to lose a sale? Give a demo before you know what the prospect needs.
We get it. Demos are easy. Demos are sexy. But did you notice that demo is a four letter word? Like many four letter words, you need to know when to use it for greatest effect.
Demos aren’t effective sales drivers when they’re deployed at the wrong place in the sales cycle. That’s because before you demonstrate your product or service, you must fully understand the business problem your prospect needs to solve.
You need to build a business case first for three reasons:
- To answer objections before they arise
- To avoid a premature focus on features, price and other superficial aspects of your offering
- To make a compelling case for the Decision Maker
How a Demo Can Sink a Sale
Demos are typically given for the prospective user. When users ask to see a demo, they are often feeding their curiosity and deciding whether they like the solution or, sometimes, it’s just because it’s how lesser sales reps who came before you have trained them. Unfortunately, the prospective user is rarely the Decision Maker.
The Decision Maker has limited interest in a demonstration of a tool or service. Instead, he or she is interested in how you can solve a business problem by saving money or increasing revenue. Those answers can only be found in a solid business case, which you can’t build without learning more about your prospect’s business.
Allow us to repeat once more:
- You can’t build a business case without learning about your prospect’s business and uncovering the business issues that your solution can address first.
- Demos don’t influence Decision Makers.
If you lead with a demo, you’ll find yourself mired in a conversation about buttons that are the wrong color, what’s not relevant, what’s missing, or even worse, trapped into a pricing discussion. The prospect is looking for a quick and easy opportunity to cross you off the list of potential vendors, get a discount, or maintain the status quo.
Build the Business Case First
Building a business case requires in-depth engagement between you and your prospect. It gives you time to establish rapport and build relationships with the multitude of stakeholders required to make a B2B buying decision.
Remember, you have two ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as you speak.
During these conversational opportunities, you can learn about your prospects:
- Business goals
Ask probing questions to uncover and address objections while illustrating the business problem. As you talk, the buyers become more aware of the problem and how much it costs the business to maintain the status quo. The more pain you uncover, the more likely the prospect will be inclined to want to find a solution.
Now you have your buyers engaged and committed to solving a problem—not just staring at a bunch of features on a screen as their eyes begin to gloss over. They’ll instead focus on why your offering is a solution to the problem that’s now weighing heavily on their mind.
And now that you have their attention and they’re invested in solving this problem, they’ll need a business case containing ROI calculations to justify the financial logic of investing in your solution.
When to Demo
Don’t offer a demo until you’ve built a business case. In fact, an argument can be made that ideally a demonstration of the product shouldn’t occur until the very end of the sales process. Then it becomes a tool to justify everything you said the product could do, and demonstrates how it can save on costs or boost revenues.
If the buyer demands a demonstration, push back, firmly yet professionally. Explain that you need to know more about the company and their business issues so you can present a demo that will best address their specific needs. You don’t want to take them on a test drive in a two passenger convertible with leather seats if what they really need is a family size SUV to haul the boat and the kids to the lake on the weekends.
Remember: A demo shouldn’t be all about your product. It should be about the way the buyer’s company can use your product to resolve a defined business problem.
A demo can be a valuable selling tool but only if it’s handled properly. Demos too early in the process are too product focused. The sale must be about solving a problem and making a positive impact on the bottom line. It’s about helping the buyer figure out how to get from Point A to Point B in the vehicle that makes the most sense for their needs.
Build a business case with data gleaned from the buyer to justify the purchase. Only at the end should you take the demo out for a test drive to show how your product can best meet their needs and provide everything they asked for.