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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Mar 12, 2014 6 min read

Inbound Marketing For Software Companies – Stop Doing Demos

Inbound Marketing for Software CompaniesJust to give you some perspective on today’s blog post, I ran marketing and product development for a software company for five years prior to starting Square 2 Marketing.

Here we have an entire team dedicated to helping software companies add inbound marketing to their sales and marketing efforts. So when I say, the demo is where software deals go to die, you can be sure that’s based on over 15 years of experience selling and marketing software.

Let me give you some insight into our thinking.

If you've been reading some of our posts around the changing buyer behavior, the science behind how people buy and how content helps prospects feel safe so they buy, then you should already be partially down this path.

Our goals as sales and marketing pros is to get the prospect to feel safe. As soon as they feel safe they will agree to your terms and sign your paperwork, but not a second before.

So if a demo is part of your sales process, here is why that might not be in line with getting your prospect to feel safe.

There are a ton of risks associated with doing a software demo for a prospect and it is very difficult to mitigate those risks in a live demo. Each of these risks or scenarios have the potential to make your prospect feel anxious, nervous or apprehensive about their choice. All of these feelings are counter to getting them to feel safe.

Here are some of the risks that should sound familiar to you.

  1. The software might not work right.
  2. The people attending the demo might not all have the same context or background information in advance of the demo.
  3. The prospect might ask questions you aren’t prepared to answer.
  4. The person doing the demo might make a mistake.
  5. The demo might be too long or too detailed to keep the prospect’s attention.
  6. The demo might not show what the prospect wants to see.
  7. The prospect might ask to see features in the software that are untested, or the person doing the demo is unfamiliar with.
  8. The prospect might not understand exactly how the software works even after the demo.
  9. The prospect might not be paying full attention or might become distracted during the demo.
  10. Your competitors might be better at demoing their product than you are.

With all these risks why would you even do a demo? I know, you’re a software company and people want to see the software. There are options.

Instead of a full blown, end to end software demo, consider these less risky alternatives.

  • Create a simulated demo that walks the prospect through a series of scenarios, based on their requirements ONLY.
  • Create a series of screen shots that highlight the features most important to the prospect.
  • Create a set of stories that illustrate the most common challenges facing the prospect and then step them through very short demoettes that highlight the features that solve those challenges.
  • Create a set of short videos that show how the software is used to solve very specific prospect challenges. Include both screen captures and client commentary.
  • Consider being completely contrarian and not do any demos. Simply discuss the client’s requirements with them and provide them with a comprehensive list of what your software is able to deliver today, what are planned enhancements for tomorrow or the next day (actual delivery dates might be more helpful) and what requirements are not currently planned for the future.

All of these alternatives to the traditional software walkthrough provide a much better platform for getting your prospects to feel safe. They eliminate all of the risks associated with a traditional demo and put you in a position to directly relate what the prospect needs with what your software can do without having to demo live software.

Remember, making the experience remarkable for your prospects during the sales process is just as, if not more important, than any feature or function in your software. This is where they make their emotional decisions and this is where they get to know, like and trust you. Blow it here and you might just have blown it for good.

Start Today Tip – If you’re doing demos. Consider stopping them today. At least until you can assess their success and how you might be able to upgrade this part of your sales process. By tailoring the demo to exactly the issues and challenges facing the prospect, you put yourself in a much better position to get the deal and you personalize the prospect’s experience. Even if you don’t do a live demo, you are proving you understand their challenge and you are able to help them. That’s all your prospect wants to know.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.