How to Succeed at Your Product-Driven Sales Demo

Delivering a dazzling product demo was once a crucial step in SaaS sales teams’ go-to-market movement. But with the rise of product-led growth (PLG), the role of the product demo is not as clear as it used to be. When users have already spent a lot of time using a product, what purpose should your demo serve, and what materials do you need to have on hand? There’s a new role for product demo in PLG’s sales moves, and we’re here to help you get your demo presentation right.

In their journey to scale globally, Slack, Dropbox, and Atlassian rewrote the playbook for SaaS growth. Unlike the IT-sanctioned enterprise giants that came before them, these companies made it quick, easy, and fun for anyone to adopt their product and use the free version for as long as they wanted, and product-driven growth was born.

If you’re on a sales team at a PLG-powered company, chances are your process has changed: You no longer need to dazzle potential customers with features and value they’ve never seen before. Chances are, your prospects have already tried many of your product’s features and felt their value. Recent studies also confirm that software buyers now prefer to independently conduct research online.

It’s time to adapt your approach. The rise of PLG means that demos now have the potential to be even more powerful in moving prospects toward a purchase decision. The trick is to do them right.

Make your product demo modular

Product demos used to happen at a specific point in the sales cycle, after a discovery call and before a prospect had used the tool. In a PLG model, a demo can occur at multiple points in the user experience of a product. An existing user may want to learn more about the hidden value, or a champion may want to convince other team members to upgrade to the paid plan. To make things even more complex, many SaaS products today have multiple value propositions and use cases.

Your demo should be tailored based on everything you know about your prospect’s business, how they’ve used your product, and the challenges they’re trying to address.

In practice, that means creating a modular set of demo slides that can cover several of your product’s use cases, as well as the overall value proposition. With a great modular demo presentation, the goal is never to deliver a perfect preset narrative; it is to facilitate preparation, whatever the circumstances.

What makes an effective demo presentation?

Your modular demo platform should establish a narrative structure for your product demo. Here is an effective structure:

  1. Provide context for what you are about to show and why your product is a game changer.
  2. Help prospects understand up front how they will benefit.
  3. Cover known industry issues and pain points to show you understand and empathize with your prospects’ situation.
  4. Map these pain points to your product features and show how the features address them.
  5. Add a link to your product and take prospects through the demo.
  6. Summarize how your product demo is relevant to your prospects.
  7. Include social proof to show how similar companies are having success with the product.
  8. Allow space for questions and a discussion about the next steps.

Use research to customize your demo

Once you have a modular platform as a foundation, you can customize each demo based on usage data and what you know about the prospect’s business. Do your research before you go online: where are they missing value and what parts of your modular demo will interest them the most? Confirm what you will share at the beginning of the call. If you prefer to see something else, use its modular platform to adapt on the fly.

Here’s how to prepare a custom demo in four steps:

  1. Get context about your prospect. Offer a discovery call to identify where they see value in your product and understand their current business challenges. Find out who else is involved in the decision-making process and ask about their timelines and dependencies.
  2. Whenever possible, fill in the blanks with research to avoid unnecessary qualifications. Understand your prospect’s role, employer, and industry, and map them to your user personas.
  3. Analyze telemetry data to paint a picture of your prospect’s product usage to date. Know how much your team has used the product and where there is additional demand.
  4. Research how you acquired the user in the first place.

If the lead is a qualified lead for the product and their use of the product suggests that they are already familiar with your product, skip the basics and double down on opportunities to unlock additional value. Explain their usage levels and support the ROI they can expect from paying (or paying more) for your product.

If the data suggests that your prospect is less familiar (or completely unfamiliar) with your product, take advantage of your modular platform and exchange slides that introduce your solution in more detail.

Deliver your demo at the right altitude

When it comes to PLG tool demos, the familiarity levels of two potential customers will never be the same. Here are some tips for making your presentation.

First of all, don’t go granulating right away. The goal of a demo is not to show exactly how to use each feature. It is to communicate information that the audience needs to continue moving towards a purchase decision. Establish a narrative that makes prospects want to expand their team’s use of your product.

Second, listen as much as you sell. Be consultative, ask questions that help you fully understand your audience’s challenges, and leave room for questions and answers throughout the demo. This hybrid demo and sales call is a conversation designed to get prospects interested in your solution and eager to engage other stakeholders on your buying team.

Finally, your research should give you a list of important questions to ask. Having them ready is key to engaging your prospects and ensuring they fully understand what they want from your product.

Tracking with asynchronous materials for decision makers

Delivering your demo is just the beginning of a new conversation. According to Gong, successful product demos spend much more time discussing next steps. Be sure to agree on this with your prospect and set a date for the next connection.

A recent LinkedIn report found that the number of stakeholders involved in the average B2B purchase decision has risen to a record 13 people. This means that much of your communication with the buy team will come down to empowering your champion and selling asynchronously. Share a previous version of your demo platform that includes your call agreements, along with answers to outstanding questions and additional information about the features that resonated.

Consider adding a recording of your presentation, so stakeholders who couldn’t attend the demo can watch it in sync.

A living and breathing product demonstration

In recent years, the buyer’s journey for SaaS products has changed significantly, and the role of the product demo and accompanying presentations have evolved with it. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Make a modular demo platform.
  • Use the research to tailor your proof.
  • Deliver your demo at the correct altitude.
  • Follow up with asynchronous materials for decision makers.

One final note: keep testing to continually iterate and improve your demo. When two potential customers’ product familiarity is not the same, each demo call is an opportunity to try a new variation and ask a new question.

How are you meeting the challenge of supporting an increasingly product-driven buyer’s journey? Share your tips with our community.


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