Scheduled Group Demos - Yes or No?

Posted by Greg Dickinson on Jun 12, 2019 11:29:31 AM

116-1166740_likes-and-dislikes-city-green-thumbs-up-redDo you offer scheduled group demos, webinar software demos?  Do they help you scale your pre-sales  resources? Or could they be shrinking your pipeline?

Whether we like it or not, today’s software buyer controls their buying journey. As pre-sales engineers, how can we best engage with our buyers, and accelerate their buying journey? You guessed right! It’s all about the product experience! Giving every buyer the right product experience at the right time.

As we continue to explore the current state of pre-sales, let’s not forget that the demo, or early product experience, is arguably the most critical part of any software sales cycle. And that’s a problem for most of us: every buyer expects to experience the product as part of their education and evaluation, but pre-sales resources are at a premium. Our research shows that while demand for tailored demos and product experiences is up, the ratio of pre-sales to sales has halved, going from an average of one pre-sales engineer for every 2 sales reps, to one pre-sales engineer for 4 sales reps. In some cases much more than that.

It’s not possible for pre-sales can’t give every demo. So software companies continue to look for ways to scale their pre-sales resources and the demo process, and satisfy buyer needs for more and earlier product experiences.

I mentioned the need for “tailored” or custom early-stage demos. Remember that depending on your product, the “buyer” may also be the “user”. They’re using their initial product experience to learn and to qualify themselves – will your product address my specific needs, or not?

Pre-Scheduled or Group Demos

One of the options to scale pre-sales resources is to schedule group demos. Live demos are offered at regularly pre-scheduled times and buyers just sign up via the website, or are registered by sales reps. In theory, it’s a great web to lead conversion tool as it gets prospects to share their contact details. Plus a single pre-sales engineer can demo their product to a group of buyers from different companies, saving a bunch of time and resources. Each buyer on the call gets a “professional” demo given by pre-sales (versus a generic demo from a sales person for instance). And they can also learn from other buyers on the demo. Right? Wrong!

Research shows that this is one of the worst options for buyers and sellers.

A group demo is a bit like test driving a car with other buyers who you don’t know in the car! It’s awkward, uncomfortable and unsatisfactory. Most early stage buyers usually don’t want to reveal their business needs in front of other buyers – other than in broad, non-specific terms. The pre-sales engineer doesn’t have an opportunity to do much, if any discovery. At best they give a generic demo sprinkled with live questions and answers. Worse case, it’s just another generic demo which fails to satisfy the buyer’s need for a tailored product experience. Plus it surfaces zero additional insights into the needs, interests and engagement of individual buyers, which doesn’t help sales qualify the opportunity.

If group demos are the first opportunity a buyer has to experience the product, how many days go by between the buyer’s request to see the product and the group demo? The percentage of buyers who sign up for a group demo and then fail to show up averages 50%. Today’s “show me, don’t tell me” buyer doesn’t want to wait for hours, let alone days, before they see the product. By the time they ask to see the product via the website or speaking with a sales person, the majority of their buying journey is complete. They’ve already read everything they want to about your product. At that moment, they want see the product. The group demo is every Wednesday at 3pm, for instance. So what happens if a buyer’s not available at that time? Do they have to wait for another week? Again, the group demo process introduces friction and delay for the buyer.

Finally, if the main objective of group demos is getting email registrations, versus ensuring that every prospective buyer gets a great product experience, you’re probably pushing buyers away instead of engaging them.

Bottom line: your product is your number one asset. If you’re not focused on showcasing it in the way that today’s digital buyer wants, you may be taking prospects out of your pipeline, versus adding them.

What’s your experience of group demos?

Leave me a comment or send me a message on LinkedIn to let me know your experience with group demos. In particular, what percentage of group demos convert to a qualified opportunity or close. Over the coming weeks, I’ll continue to explore demo options, tools, innovations and techniques, so please join me as we delve into the modernization of the pre-sales process and the demo. Check out my earlier blogs on explainer demo videos and demos given by sales reps. And look out for my next blog talking about in-person demos following a full discovery process.

Topics: Buyers journey, "pre-sales", Demo