In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike talk about how to design a killer client demo. They put together a basic four part outline that will help you take your customers to the next step.
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Mike [00:23]: In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us, Rob and I are going to talk about how to design a killer client demo. This is Startups For the Rest of Us, episode two hundred and thirty-two.
Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.
Rob [00:24]: And I’m Rob.
Mike [00:25]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s going on this week, Rob?
Rob [00:28]: A couple weeks ago I mentioned I was going to be hiring an executive assistant, super part-time, remote, to help with my email volume, and to go through and do some filtering. And I’ve been thinking about doing this for a couple of years, and really couldn’t see a way that someone could actually help and save me time. But with my schedule going from having four hour tasks, that I do during a day, to basically hundreds of five minute tasks, which is essentially what I do now, I really did see that I probably needed to do it.
So I hired an executive assistant. Found her on oDesk. She’s based here in the U.S., and it’s actually working our pretty well. She’s basically just filtering my inbox into two separate labels. She’s either putting them in one of the two labels or she’s deleting them. And I just gave her instructions, and walked her through the screencast, and then if she has questions she asks me. So the two labels I’m using are ” _today” and “_this week”, and it really translates into “urgent” versus “you can do this whenever.” And underscores there, of course, to keep them at the top of the list. But I’ve been shocked at how much time it’s saving me. It’s not hours a day, for sure, but it’s probably maybe twenty to thirty minutes a day. Just getting all that sorting gone, there’s TrueTwit validations that come through from people on Twitter and she’s handling those and one by one I’m figuring out these little things she can do to save me two minutes here and two minutes there, and it’s cool. It’s cool just to open up Gmail and never look at the inbox. That’s been the hardest thing, either on my phone or on Gmail, is to only look at Today tab essentially and see what she’s putting in there.
Mike [02:00]: Yeah, that’s interesting, because I find the same thing. If I try to avoid doing my email throughout the day, or just try to batch it up, the most difficult thing is not going in there and looking at it just out of habit, sheerly our of habit. I grab my phone and it’s like “Oh, do I have any messages?” It’s obviously a bad habit, but hard to break, too.
Rob [02:16]: Yeah. I do the same thing. And I have peeked in the inbox, especially on weekends. She doesn’t work, so on the weekends I do have to check on my inbox if I want to see stuff that’s coming in. But overall, I’ve been pleased with it so far, and I’m hoping that overtime I can give her more and more little things to do as she learns my work flow.
Mike [02:32]: Very cool. So we got a lot of positive reviews from the “Being Married to a Founder,” episode a couple weeks ago, when we basically outsourced the podcast to our wives. Jay Adams said, “This is one of the best episodes yet. It’s great to hear insights from other founder’s spouses, and how it relates to our own situations.” And Richard says, “Well done. That must have been quite scary to do. I’d love to hear some more advice you could give to founders on how they can make it easier on their spouses.
Rob [02:55]: Very cool. Yeah, I thought that was a neat fifth anniversary episode, right? We could get off the mic and put some other voices that I think have a lot of interesting things to say. And Richard, if you’re looking for other advice on working with your spouse and communicating, that kind of stuff, I have a podcast with Sherry, my wife, and it’s called Zen Founder at Zenfounder.com. Every week or two we’re addressing that kind of stuff. It’s keeping your family and yourself sane while you’re starting up.
Mike [03:20]: And I’ll vouch for it as it’s a good podcast. I listen to it.
Rob [03:23]: Cool. So I have some bad news. I hired a part-time marketing assistant, essentially. He had a full-time job during the day, and he was doing stuff on the side for me. And I had a thirty day trial. We were trying to figure out if we could work together, if he could do the work and stuff, and he quit about three weeks in and he just said, “It turns out I don’t have as much free time in a week as I thought I did.” He said, “I feel bad that I can’t put in as much time as you need, so I’m just going to bow out now before it becomes an issue.” So that was a bit of a bummer. It’s a bit of a bummer to try and get down to someone and hire them, and then have them not be able to do it. But the good news is through some crazy circumstances I stumbled across a candidate who could not only fill that gap of online marketing, but she also has customer success experience, giving demos. She has a unique skill set, I’ll put it this way. Because, normally, you can find someone who can do onboarding, and be a customer liaison or account executive, but they don’t have internet marketing experience. And she happens to have both of them. So I made her an offer this week and it looks like things are going to move forward with that. So very good ending to what was otherwise some bad news that I received last week.
Mike [04:30]: It’s always rough to have to end one of those things in the middle of it, especially when it’s not your decision. But in some ways it’s better to have those decisions forced on you, early, especially, then to have to make the hard decision later on and say “This isn’t working out and I have to end it.” Because then it’s more of a mental weight that you’re going to carry around for probably at least a couple of weeks, if not a month or two, before you pull the trigger and say “This has to end now, because it just can’t go on any further.”
Rob [04:53]: Exactly. And I really appreciated him just coming out and saying. I have no ill feelings at all. I appreciated his honestly, and the fact that he didn’t want to waste either of our time. He didn’t just fade away like a lot of contractors do, and not get back in touch, because that’s, like you said, a real bummer because it drags on for weeks and weeks.
Mike [05:10]: Yeah. I might have mentioned this before. I was interviewing somebody for a developer position, and my typical process is go through, talk to them for a little while on a phone call and explain to them what the position is, and then ask if they’re still interested. And I actually had somebody tell me, “Yeah, I’m not interested.” I was shocked. I was just like “Oh. Okay.”
Rob [05:28]: That’s good to know now.
Mike [05:329: “That’s good to know now. Thanks.”
Rob [05:32]: So before we dive into the meat of this episode, we got an email from Wilson Peng and he says, “I’m a self taught Rails guy, but self-teaching myself through all the sites you mentioned didn’t work.” And he’s referencing our episode, it was three or four episodes ago where we talked about whether a non-technical founder should learn to code or not, if they’re going to start a SaaS app. And we threw out some different sites like One Month Rails and Udemy and other things and he says, “After I started working for Iron.io I was pretty much able to code anything, mainly because we worked out of a co-working space, which is where all the [Dev?] tool startups work, and it was beyond easy asking for help when I ran into problems.”
What I thought was interesting is, one thing we didn’t mention on the “Should I learn to code episode,” is that in my opinion, the best way to learn to code, by far, is to get a forty hour a week job coding and have a mentor. Have someone you are either an apprentice to, or they’re just an informal mentorship relationship, where you can go and they can show you how to architect and they can show you the stumbling blocks and how to get around them. The reason we didn’t mention that on the episode is that the person asking the question already has a full-time consulting business going and he’s thinking about launching a SaaS app on the side. So he doesn’t really have the leeway to go and work forty hours a week salary for someone to learn to code. But in my opinion, it’s far, far better to get a full-time gig in coding, if in fact you do want to learn to code. So what are we talking about today?
Mike [06:59]: Well, we have a question that came in from Guy Lewis, and Guy wrote to us and he said, “Hi, guys. It almost goes without saying how valuable your podcasts are, so firstly, thanks so much for sharing your hard-earned experience. My question is can you do a podcast on how to set up an online demo? What tools and equipment are necessary, and what have you learned about managing consistency across a team? Thanks again, gents. Guy Lewis.”
Well, Guy, I think in terms of the tech itself, the tech can be fairly straightforward, especially if you’re doing an online demo. For our podcasts we just use Skype. I use Pamela on my machine because it’s Windows, and Rob uses –
Rob [07:29]: Call Recorder.
Mike [07:30]: – Call Recorder because it’s on a Mac. You probably don’t need those particular features, and you probably wouldn’t be using Skype to run a demo. I would recommend either GoToMeeting or WebEx. If you go with GoToMeeting, I will warn you in advance that the recording does not work very well. So if you’re anticipating recording the demo, I’ve always had problems with it, and when you do get the recording it always goes into this unique GoToMeeting format that you have to use their player for. So just keep those things in mind when you’re using it. But otherwise, in terms of the tech, in terms of the headset and microphone, I would use a headset. Don’t use a stand alone microphone. Use something that is going to sit on your head. You don’t really want to be using a phone if you don’t have to. If you are going to use a phone, make sure you’re using a headset that goes with it, so that as you turn your head or look at different screens your voice isn’t fluctuating for the customer. You want a very uniform experience when you’re doing that.
As I said, the tech stuff itself is very easy. I think that when you’re looking at a client demo, what you really want to concentrate on is, what is the customer looking for? What is it they want to learn? How do you present it to them? And how do you go through that process of conveying the information to the customer in a way that is going to essentially lead them from that call to whatever the next step is.
So what we’ve done is we’ve put together an outline of the four basic steps of how to design a killer client demo that is going to help you take that customer from where they are today to the next step, whether that next step is them giving you a credit card right then and there or another call or a trial or et cetera.
Rob [08:57]: Yeah, to jump in and actually touch back to the tech stuff. When you get your headset make sure it’s a USB headset to avoid the hum. I often find that gaming USB headsets are pretty good. The other service that I’ve used for giving demos is Join.me, and it’s a free service, but obviously that comes at a price. Free like a puppy. I have used Skype for a bunch of demos, and it’s not the most professional thing, just because you have to add them as a Skype user, as a contact, and then share the screen and stuff. It works fine, but moving forward, if I were actually to start scaling this up, like you said, Mike, Skype is not the way to do it.
Mike [09:30]: Yeah, both GoToMeeting and WebEx have free tiers. So I think that you get up to two or three users, or something like that, and it’s completely free. So as long as you’re not running a large scale demo for five or six people in different locations, you’re good.
Rob [09:44]: Cool, let’s dive in.
Mike [9:56]: So the first step in designing a client demo is your open. And in the opening, basically what you want to do is you want to let the other person talk. You don’t want to go into what it is that you do, or how you do it. What you want the customer to do is you want them to describe their problem in their own words. And if more than one person is on the call, you want them to ask them to reiterate their current challenges and allow other people who are also on the call to chime in. That does a couple of different things. First one is it level sets everyone’s expectations, so that everyone on the call knows exactly why they are there and why they are talking to you. The second thing it does is it allows them to provide you with the information that you need further on in the call.
Now you can leverage things that they’ve said later on, but you can’t do that unless you’ve asked them. So if they say, “Well we’ve had a problem getting our servers connected to X, Y, and Z services.” Later on in your call you can create a hypothetical scenario and you talk specifically to that and you say, “Well, and so and so had this problem where they were trying to get these servers connected to X, Y, and Z services,” and basically reiterate exactly what their problem was, and the fact that you’ve been able to solve it. But again, if you don’t ask those questions, you don’t know the information, so you can’t relate it to them later on.
Rob [10:57]: Yeah, I like this open. I think this combines maybe the first two questions of what I consider a really good sales call outline. And this was presented by Harry Hollander two years ago in his attendee talk at MicroConf. His first two questions of the three question outline are, number one, “What are you doing now for X?” So for me it would be “What are you doing now for email marketing?” [Auto Shark] might be, “What you are doing now to access your server’s security risk.” And the second question is, “What about that isn’t working for you?” And I think that those two combined, kind of gets at this opening, right? You’re basically saying “”What’s your situation today, and what’s the problem with that? Why are we even on this call? Why are you looking at this as an opportunity?”
Mike [11:38]: So, also as part of the open, once the stage has been set, that’s about the time when you start talking about who you are, what the product you have is, what the history of the product is. Some people don’t like to do this. Other people prefer to do it. If you’re talking to large enterprises it’s almost expected of you that you’re going to talk to these things because they want to know that whatever it is that you’re pitching to them has a history behind it, that they’re going to be able to rely on. So the larger the customer, the more you’re probably going to have to put this type of thing in here. But at the same time, there are situations where the person’s done their research. You probably don’t even have to talk about it. I’ve actually gone into demos where I walked in and I asked the questions and then I put up a slide and said, “This is our history.” It’s really not important. Nobody cares. And just clicked to the next one. And people laugh about it but they remember it, too. They realize that what you’re doing is you’re getting to the heart of the matter, the things that matter to them, because you don’t care about you, you care about them and care about solving their problems. And in some ways it’s just psychology. It’s just explaining without telling them that you care about them, and you’re not there to just talk about yourself.
Rob [12:41]: Sure. Yeah, what I’ve found is – I haven’t done many cold demos, they all have quite a bit of interest by the time we get on a call – and so I tend to give a little bit of info about Drip when I get on the call, but it’s like you said, you don’t want to talk about yourself here. You’re really trying to get at what the customer is trying to achieve. So I think building a little bit of credibility up front is helpful. You can say, “We’ve been in business this long,” or “We have this many thousands of customers,” or just position yourself like “We’re the lightweight marketing automation that doesn’t suck. That’s really who we are,” just to get even one or two sentences in there of setting the stage of the call. And you can always go into this later. The person’s going to have quite a few questions for you – at least they should – and you can answer those toward the end once you’ve gotten this early stuff out of the way.
Mike [13:28]: Yeah, you bring up a really, really good point there, which is you have to know what the stage looks like before you even get on the call. The last thing you want to do is get onto a call and think that you know who you’re talking to, or the type of customer that you’re talking to, and get it wrong. Because you can very well end up showing them the wrong presentation. And we’ll talk a little bit about that later on, but just to give you a very brief example, one of the people that I was talking to in the past couple of weeks, I thought I was talking to a very small IT company that did security assessments, and I went in and I gave my sales pitch, and I was talking to them and I was like “Oh, yeah, we work in this general vicinity and people who we are interested are between the two hundred and five hundred node range.” Which that’s going to depend on who you’re talking to. You don’t want to sell somebody who’s working with extremely large environments that you deal in the small range. Well, it turns out that that was actually what it was. He’s like “Yeah, we wanted this for a thirteen thousand node environment,” and I’m like “Oops! Just shot myself in the foot there.” So you really want to know what the stage is before you even get on that call. So if you have a way to ask questions before you even get to the point where you have the demo, that’s the ideal scenario, because then you can tweak your presentation specifically to them. And usually it’s worth doing that if you’re going into these direct one-to-one sales environments.
Rob [14:37]: Yeah, and I’ve found it helpful to have a lot of flexibility during this whole process. I know we’re still on step one, which is the open, but I haven’t prepared slides for these sales demos. I typically will get on the line, have a conversation, get a little more detail about what they’re looking for, and then I will demo the part of the app that they want to see and I will do a live demo. I realize that won’t work in all cases. If you were demoing to five people or something, you probably want a few slides to give them whatever credibility and give them some ideas of common questions or something, but I feel like having a lot of flexibility and really making it a conversation, rather than a presentation, has worked out better for me.
Mike [15:14]: Yeah, and I think that just depends a lot on the size of the customers you’re working with and what their expectations are.
And that goes into your second part of your demo which is, essentially, the lead in. And I think that, Rob, you probably handle these things a little bit differently than I do, but I like to gather as much information about the target customer as I can before I get in there so that the demo itself is tailored explicitly to them. So it almost looks like they’re the ones who are part of the demo. And the way I do that is I essentially start out by telling a story, and the story is about a hypothetical client of mine. It’s best if you can use a real one, but I try to include a photo, a job title, et cetera, and explain who the person is that has the problem. And this problem that they’re having should very closely mirror the problems of the person you’re talking to. And the only way you’re going to be able to do that is if you’ve talked to them on the phone, or via email, before you even get on the call. So, especially if you’re talking to groups of people, then you can talk to one person, get a feel from them about what the problems are that they’re facing, and then incorporate those in the demo. And then when you get into the demo itself, you’ve got two, three, four, five people on the call, and you’re relaying exactly what their situation is to them, and to the rest of the person – except for that one who you had previously talked to – the demo that you’re presenting is exactly describing the situation that they’re in. So at that point it really looks like you are on the ball, you are doing exactly what it is that they need you to do.
Rob [16:33]: That’s a pretty nice hack. Yeah, I’ve definitely never done this. I always just take the questions, find out their situation, and answer them and do a demo. But if you actually have prep work that you’ve done in advance, I think that would come off quite professional.
Mike [16:44]: Yeah, like I said, it depends on how much time you have to prepare, and what the dollar amounts are. If you have a twenty-five dollar product it’s not worth doing this every single time. But if you’re selling for thousands of dollars, it makes a big difference. Especially in their perception, and the number of people you’re doing these demos for. Because at the end of the day it’s all a numbers game.
Rob [17:01]: Right, and I think you raise a good point that we should probably touch on here, is when should you do these demos? Because, obviously, if you have a ten dollar a month SaaS product then doing a demo for every new prospect isn’t feasible. It’s just not economically viable. Now I do think that early on in your product’s lifespan – basically when you’re doing a lot of things that don’t scale – I do think that even with a ten dollar or twenty dollar a month product, that I would be willing to do these demos, because the information you’re going to get out of them is so valuable to you. But once you’ve hit the point where you have built something people want, and you’re getting people to sign up for your trials, then I tend to only do these demos for people who are going to spend more than X dollars a month, or per year. And for me that number is right around a hundred and fifty, two hundred dollars a month. It will depend on your business. Like you said, Mike, if you’re selling something that’s thousands of dollars – let’s say you have a fifty thousand dollar contract, or fifty thousand dollar project that you’re going to be selling – than obviously it’s worth doing something like this. I don’t know if you have a specific number in mind of how low it goes before you won’t give a demo?
Mike [18:01]: It’s got to average out to at least a couple hundred dollars a month, is really what it comes down to. So if I’m selling something for five thousand dollars I’ll do a demo. But if it’s for a thousand I might or might not.
Rob [18:11]: Right, a thousand a year.
Mike [18:12]: Yeah. Those are excellent points. You have to know what those numbers look like, and what’s worth it for you to do the legwork before you go down this road.
Rob [18:18]: And I actually think that number goes up over time, at least in my experience with the product, because early on you’re just scraping to do everything you can to get sales. You start giving to most everybody and then it’s like “All right. Only people who are going to pay us fifty bucks a month, then we’ll do it.” And then you get a few months more down the line and that doesn’t move your needle anymore, so you need to jump up to a hundred bucks or a hundred fifty bucks. And I think overtime with any good product that is growing, that’s naturally going to happen, and that dollar amount is going to go higher.
Now there is an in-between here where you can record, certainly not a personable demo, but if someone requests a demo and they are only a thirty or forty dollar a month client, you can send them a pre-recorded screencast that isn’t highly produced, and looks almost as if you could have recorded it just for them. I’ve known a couple guys who do this, and I’ve started doing it as well. It will still give them a nice demo, and as long as you have a few markets that you’re focusing on and you can record one for each, that’s pretty applicable to this person’s question, that’s a nice in-between. So you don’t have to just tell them “No,” but you can say “Sure, here’s this screencast demo that we’ve recorded,” and send it to them, and not have to do all the scheduling and the manual in-person thing.
Mike [19:22] Yeah, those are great ideas. Jumping back to the lead in, another thing that I like to incorporate in the lead-in is part of this hypothetical story about a hypothetical client, talk about the things that that client tried, what didn’t work, and why those things didn’t work. And these are things that you can extract from the initial person that you set up the call with. Before you had said that Harry basically starts out the conversation with those things. I don’t know if it makes a material difference. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I haven’t tested it. But again, having those things in there so that the customer knows that you know what you’re talking about and you have addressed these types of issues before and if those things mirror their experiences, then again, you’re speaking their language. They know that you’ve gone down this road before, and that level of trust just goes up with you.
Rob [20:05]: Yeah, and the cool part is that, assuming you’ve vetted your customer well and you have the information before the call, you can tailor that story, like you said, to mirror their journey. And the customer will essentially be nodding their head the entire time, because they know what this path looks like. And like I said before, it comes of really professional when it looks as if you’ve really catered everything to them and it really connects with their use case.
Mike [20:27]: Yeah, and in some ways you can almost relate this entire presentation back to something that you would find on a long form sales page, because the long form sales page it intended to walk them through the journey, talk about all the different pain points, and hit on all the different things that that person who’s reading it, all the challenges they’re likely having with whatever the situation is that they’re in, and you lead them down the path. Well, you’re doing the exact same thing in this particular demo. You list out all the different challenges, what the customer ultimately did about them, and all of those things should lead down the path to your product.
And that leads up to step three of the demo, which is the middle. And in the middle you’re going to talk about how you went about solving the challenges for this customer. And again, going back to step one, you relate it back to that opening so that your product and your company history converge with this hypothetical customer who mirrors your prospect. And again, you’re basically aligning the starts. You’re putting everything all in the right places so that the only natural conclusion that the person can come to, that is listening to the demo, is that your product sounds like it’s going to be a great fit.
So once you’ve aligned all these things, one of the other things you want to do is you want to touch on all of the different challenges, but don’t necessarily talk too much in detail about them, because you want to allow the customer to come back and provide you with additional input because, obviously, they’ve tried different things and they’re going to have different perspectives. They’re going to have some bad experiences that they’ve gone through, with maybe some competitive products or manually doing things. You always want your product to be the natural conclusion but you want to essentially allow them to speak to you to say “Hey, by the way, we did try that and it didn’t work and here’s why.” Or if they have any objections. You want them to be able to bring those things up so you have an opportunity to talk to them about it. And if you’ve done your homework in terms of doing sales demos, at the same time, anytime a customer asks you a question on a call you should also be keeping a separate document some place that it lists your customer objections, because those are the things that people are going to want to know and you want to be able to have a concrete answer for any time the customer says something. For example, “Oh, that price point is too high.” It’s like, “I understand that you say that but,” and then you list out five reasons why your price isn’t too high. And if you have those things all thought out in advance, because you have taken the time to set those things off to the side when a customer asked about it, and then you think through exactly what the answer is, when another customer comes to you and says “Hey, I have this particular problem,” you tell them the price, they say that’s too expensive, then you have a concrete answer that you don’t have to think about. You don’t have to come up with it on the spot, because if you come up with it on the spot it’s going to be different every time. And it really helps to have that concrete answer. And as you give the answer, if somebody pushes back with it you make a note of that objection, you work it out on the spot, and then you go back to your objections list and say, I tried this, they said “What about this other thing,” so you have to come up with something else to respond to that objection as well.
Rob [23:19]: I think the important thing to keep in mind here is if someone’s objecting to your product they can either be just throwing up roadblocks, as some people do, and they just want to see if you have answers, or they could genuinely be concerned that the product isn’t a fit. And the idea of these demos, just as with all sales, it’s not to convince someone to use a product that isn’t a good fit for them. And I’ve been on calls and demos like this before, where I realize halfway through that the product isn’t a good fit for them, and that they should go use, either a more expensive competitor, or maybe it’s a less expensive competitor. They just don’t need the features that I’m offering. And at that point I’m not trying to convince them to put on this shoe that isn’t going to fit their foot. So that’s something to keep in mind is that try not to just think about objections and the counterpoints to those. Then you will come off as perhaps being pushy or something. Keep in mind that you really want to listen to what a customer says and try to get at the deeper meaning of that.
At the same time, I think there are a lot of objections that are thrown up. Price is one. That’s a lame objection. If the product is a really good fit for them, and it’s going to make them a ton of money, or save them a bunch of money, or save them time, then the price is not super relevant, within reason. It’s some twenty, thirty percent difference between a competitor, it just doesn’t make sense. So that is a lame objection. It is something that I would push back on pretty hard, but I would always do it very courteously with a “Yeah, I totally understand.” Kind of have to lead it in that way, right? I make it a conversation. It’s not like an argument. I want it to be much more conversational than argumentative.
It probably goes without saying but I think it’s something that you want to keep in mind is that sales, in my opinion, is not about convincing someone to use a product. It’s just assessing their needs, and trying to figure out if you’re a good fit. And if it is, showing them that it’s a good fit. And that’s what I think these four steps that we’re laying out here are doing.
Mike [25:00]: Rob, you bring up an excellent point, is that if your product is not going to be a good fit you have to be honest with them and tell them flat out and say “Look, I don’t think that this is going to be a good fit, and here are the reasons why I don’t. You’re looking for this, I don’t have that. You’re looking for this other thing over here, we don’t have that either. And the way you need to do this over here is not going to work with your systems,” et cetera. You can essentially throw the objections up yourself. And sometimes people are just looking for a way to get off the phone. They already have their own agenda, or something like that. There are going to be people out there who have their own agenda when you get on a call and you’re just not going to know about it. And it sucks to be in those situations because sometimes a vendor’s brought in for the sole purpose of being compared to somebody else. And it’s not that you ever had a real chance to begin with, it’s just that you might have been brought in to help lowball a price or something along those lines, and you don’t know it. But that being said, you do have to know when you’re in over your head, and if your product’s not going to be a good fit, tell people. And if they push back at that point and say “No, no. We really want to try it,” handle them with kid gloves a little bit because you don’t necessarily know what you’re getting into.
Rob [25:58]: Right. Especially with SaaS, where they can cancel at any time, right? It’s not like you get some big one hundred thousand dollar signature and you’re really trying to push this through. If you convince someone to try your product out, you’re going to spend a lot of time onboarding them, and then if they cancel in thirty days you have actually wasted more time and you’re out more money than is worth it.
Mike [26:15]: So near the end of the middle section is really when you want to get into how your product works. You want to show them. So it’s not enough to lead them through this hypothetical scenario, where you’ve talked about their problems and how this hypothetical customer solved their problems with your product, that it mirrors their situation, and then leave them hanging. You want to prove it. And I actually have a slide in my presentations that basically says “Prove it,” because I’ve said all these things, but you have to show them that you mean what you just said. And so I’ll walk them through whatever the presentation is, and specifically focus on the things that they’ve said are important. So if they want to know about discovery I show them that. If they want to know about recording I show them that. You really have to get a sense of specifics, what are important to them before you get to that point. And, obviously, when you’re demoing a product itself you can go anywhere you want. There’s no real script to that. But the outline itself of how the demo will go, essentially leads you to this part where then you’re showing them the product and how it works and how it solves their problems.
Rob [27:12]: So we’ve covered the open, the lead in, the middle. Let’s talk about the close.
Mike [27:18]: In the close you essentially want to talk about what the next steps are with the prospect. And you want to formally agree to some sort of a timeline, whatever that timeline happens to be. So if, for example, you’re talking with an organization that, let’s say that they’re very informal, they only meet once a month or once every two months, you’re next call with them might not be for six weeks. Obviously you don’t want to be selling to those types of people, but if you are you have to know what that timeline is. And it’s not just about setting expectations for them, it’s about setting expectations for yourself, because you don’t want to be thinking, “I’ve got to get ready for this sales demo, and I’m expecting this sale to come in”, only to realize it’s not going to come in for at least eight weeks, because the customer isn’t even going to talk to all the people that are involved for another four or five weeks. So those are the types of things that you need to keep in mind, but the timeline itself, ask them directly about what their timeline is, do they need any other people to be involved? It goes back to the BANT acronym. Do they have budget? Who has the authority to make the decision? What are the next steps? All these different things that factor into it, you need to know what those things are and figure out what those are on the call. Just ask them flat out. What’s your budget? Whose got the authority? Do you actually have a need for this, which you’ve clearly established that. And what’s your timeline? So that’s what the BANT, B-A-N-T stands for.
Rob [28:36]: Yeah, timeline’s a big one, because otherwise these things can drag on and people won’t make the decision. And you can bring this up very casually. I will typically say “All right, so do you have any other questions?” And they’ll say, “No, I think that wraps it up.” And so then I’ll say, “Okay, so would you like to sign up for a trial? What’s your timeline? I can get you set up with a trial.” It can be something easy like that, and it doesn’t feel forced and they can feel free to say “No, I’m not ready,” or “Yes, I’d like to get started right away.” It can be brought up pretty casually. That’s in the less complex scenario, right, where there’s only one or two people involved, but I think your BANT applies when it’s selling into the enterprise and there are multiple stakeholders that you have to get on board.
Mike [29:09]: That’s another good point, is that all these different steps, I think that they naturally lead you through the process, but the specifics of how you address the questions or how you deal with asking what the next steps are, whether it’s very informally or having a focused discussion on it. Maybe you even take that discussion offline with a manager who has the authority to actually sign the check, because he doesn’t necessarily want all his techs in the room talking about the actual budget for it, or pricing. Maybe those are things that aren’t necessary for them to know, and a lot of people just don’t want their techs involved in those discussions. But all of this goes back to the idea that, ideally, you should know what you want out of the call and out of the demo before it even starts. Do you want them to go to a trial? Do you want them to make a purchase? Do you want to get to another call? Do you want to talk to somebody who’s in charge of budgeting? What is the next step? And that depends a lot on what your type of product is and what the logical next step is. And your entire presentation, or your demo, should revolve around what that next step is going to be. It should lead to it.
Rob [30:07]: Right and I often ask, before a call, as we’re emailing to set it up, “What would you like to get out of the demo?” Right? So finding out what the customer, or I guess it’s a prospect at this point, wants is also super valuable to make sure that you can provide that during t demo.
Mike [30:21]: I think the only other thing I’d mention is if you’re dealing with higher end products, what you don’t want to do is if somebody emails you or calls and says “Could you send us over a pricing sheet,” the last thing you want to do is send it to them. It sounds counterintuitive because they’ve asked for it, but you want to have a demo and a discussion about what their needs are first. Because, otherwise, it’s the fastest way to walk yourself out of a deal.
It’s funny because I’ve done this in the past. I’ve never responded to a pricing request with pricing information and then later landed the sale. Every single time I’ve sent pricing to someone who asked for it, without doing a demo and having a discussion with them first, every single time I’ve regretted it and it’s never worked out. And it’s not to say that it can’t in some situations, but if you have higher price points I don’t think that it works.
Rob [31:04]: If you have other thoughts for us or questions regarding this killer client demo outline you can call our voicemail number at 888.801.9690 or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Out of Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups and visit Startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.