What if they sold perfume like we sell software?

Posted by Greg Dickinson on Feb 14, 2019 12:04:33 PM



Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was doing my Valentine’s shopping the other day, looking for some perfume for my wonderful wife. As I headed to the counter, I was struck by the difference in the buyer’s experience shopping for perfume and cosmetics, compared to the software industry - where I’ve spent my entire career. I know that they’re worlds away from each other, but I think we can learn something from the way perfume vendors treat their buyers.

85%-90% of all consumers want to try before they’ll buy

The perfume and cosmetics industry spends millions of dollars advertising their products. We see them on TV, in magazines and all-over social media. Their spokespeople tell us how great the products are, and how they’ll change our lives. All of this to drive us to the store to “try it”. Why? According to a good friend of mine who’s an executive for one of the big cosmetics brands, 85%-90% of all buyers want to try a perfume before they’ll buy. Hence most stores have an open, inviting area for buyers to find their “product fit”. One thing I noticed while I was shopping was that although there were plenty of “pre-sales” specialists available to help buyers (people ready to spray you at a moment’s notice), the vast majority of buyers didn’t want assistance and wanted to shop unassisted. They opted to pick up, look at, and try many of the products on the counter, until they were ready to buy or had a question that was not answered by the product experience. Not too long ago, samples were kept behind the counter and you had to ask to see them or try them. Perfume companies have taken notice of changes in buyer behavior and removed those barriers, encouraging buyers to experience the products. The industry understands that if their buyers can’t experience the product on their terms (i.e. unassisted and in the moment), they won’t buy.

Can you come back on Monday at 10am?

As I stood at the counter to make my purchase, I couldn’t help but think of our industry. We advertise extensively, have webinars with product experts to discuss our software, use every medium possible to drive people to our websites, to our “store”. But here the similarities end. We don’t make our products available to our prospects, we keep them locked away. We require our prospects to go to great lengths before we’ll consider showing them the product: form filling, qualifying phone calls, scheduling. Or committing resources to a product trial. Only then will we show our product. Trust me, if I’m had to go through that type of experience at the perfume counter, my Valentine would definitely be getting something else this year! Can you imagine: “Glad you came in, but before you can try our product, who are you? What’s your email address? When are you looking to buy? Can you come back on Monday at 10am?”

93% of software buyers want to experience your product now

I realize I’m over-dramatizing, but I hope it makes my point. The whole reason we have a website, is not just to drive traffic and attract prospects, but to generate revenue. Just like the perfume industry, 93% of all prospects say that they have to see the software product before they will become buyers. However, in the case of most software vendors, when buyers come to their website, they are preventing from experiencing the product the way they want.

Average bounce rate for "request a demo" = 87%

As consumers, we vote with our feet and our wallets when buying experiences doesn’t meet our expectations. As software buyers, we do the same thing. The average bounce rate across software companies for the “Request a Demo” button on websites is 87%. Put another way, 87% of buyers come to your store to experience your product, open the door, see the form they have to complete and envision the annoying call they’ll receive to “qualify” them. Rather than complete the form, they turn around and leave. However, unlike a perfume counter where the buyer can sample many products, when a buyer comes to your website, you have their undivided attention. We all know how hard it is to get a buyer’s attention! So why, having spent so many resources to get someone to our website, do we insist on blowing it? Why aren’t we doing everything possible to keep our buyers engaged for as long as possible? Can’t we find a way to offer buyers our equivalent of product samples as soon as they arrive?

Let prospects "sample" your product first

Why not use technology to remove the distance between your buyers and your product and give your buyers an experience that meets their expectations? Use technology to let buyers see and experience your product on your website, on their first visit. Let them “sample” your product, look at it, see it, understand the value and the product fit. After all, we’re not in the business of tracking web traffic, or MQLs, or SQLs. We’re in the business of selling software! So, let’s use our product demo process as a way for marketing and sales to drive customer acquisition, instead of driving prospects away. Let’s turn prospects into buyers! Thankfully, the technology to provide your prospect with the kind of product experience that they (we) all want is available today.

If you’re a software vendor struggling with trial conversions or a buyer who’s had it with antiquated vendor processes, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below or give me a call. But before I leave, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to my Valentine. 


Topics: DemoOnDemand, Request a demo, Buyers journey, Customer experience, "Product-led"