The State of Pre-Sales and the Product Demo

Posted by Greg Dickinson on May 28, 2019 8:10:40 AM


 What’s the most important stage in any buyer’s journey? You guessed it! It’s the initial product experience. Or, in software terms, the DEMO.question-mark-blackboard-418x279

That’s kind of funny, when you look at where SaaS businesses have invested in the last 10 years. It’s primarily been in sales and marketing.

  • On average, every SaaS sales rep now uses 5.2 different sales tools.
  • Have you seen the 2019 Martech 5000? At the last count, 7,041 tools that Marketing teams are using to help with advertising, website personalization, SEO, Social, automation, analytics, chat, etc., etc.

We’re transforming how we do business, making our internal processes more efficient and effective. Yet what is arguably the most critical part of the sales cycle – the demo – has seen ZERO innovation or investment.

In the meantime, the number of demos we’re giving continues to go up. Why? First, there are now 9 buyers in the sales cycle compared to 3 that we saw only 5 years ago. Second, whether it’s the result of the app effect or consumerization, buyers now expect an “early stage” demo as part of their initial education and evaluation – and may still require a full, scripted or custom demo for closing. Third, buyers are increasingly the “user” and want to make their own decisions, based on their individual product experience.

Where are all the demo resources?

Let’s review the facts: more buyers want a demo early in the buying journey, AND, product experience is a buying pre-requisite. So we must be hiring tons of pre-sales resources, right?. Wrong! Statistics show that 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. Meanwhile, pre-sales continues to be one of the hardest headcounts to fill and retain.

Current demo options

If demand for demos and product experiences is up, and pre-sales resources are at a premium, what are we doing differently to engage our buyers? Here are the main demo options buyers are being offered:

  • Explainer demo videos
  • Demos given by sales reps
  • Pre-scheduled or group demos
  • Traditional demos only given after a full discovery process
  • No demos - trial in place of the demo

How can we deliver more demos without increasing pre-sales resources? While pre-sales can no longer fulfill every demo requirement, they still own the demo. Which means that pre-sales has to find ways to scale their demo process and ensure that every demo – whether they’re giving it or not – is consistent, professional, and engages the buyer.

What do you think?

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring demo options, tools, innovations and techniques. If you’re a pre-sales engineer, work with pre-sales, or are interested in demos in the buyer’s journey, please join me as we delve into the modernization of the pre-sales process and the demo. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to cover, leave a message in the comments section below, or send me a message.


Topics: Buyers journey, "Product demo"