What is a Sales Demo?
A sales demo is a detailed product or service demonstration a sales rep delivers after a prospective customer has shown interest in the company’s respective offering.
It is meant to highlight a product’s features and benefits as they pertain to the buyer’s stated needs and demonstrate how they can use the product to solve their pain points.
Sales demos happen after a website visitor becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) or a sales rep has had initial contact with a prospect.
They can take place in-person or virtually and vary from company to company. Every sales demo roughly follows these main steps:
- Introduce the company and get to know the potential customer.
- Recap previous conversations and/or information.
- Introduce the product features and benefits.
- Show the product in action, covering its pertinent use cases.
- Answer any questions or objections.
- Close the call with a call-to-action.
Product demonstrations don’t usually result in immediate sales. There is still a lot of work to be done in the sales process for a lead to convert.
80% of sales require 5 post-meeting follow-up calls, and the average B2B sale involves 6 to 10 decision-makers, so a successful sales demo requires subsequent communication to build trust and demonstrate value.
- Sales demonstration
- Product demo
- Product demonstration
- Demo call
Why Sales Demos are Important
Sales demos are the first impression a potential buyer has of a product (in a personalized context).
This is important for a multitude of reasons:
1. Show product benefits through personalization
On a company’s website, there is never the perfect amount of information for any one customer. Some product information only pertains to certain customer segments, while other parts may be ambiguous for competitive purposes.
Through personalization, sales demos provide an opportunity to show potential buyers how a product can meet their specific needs and solve their pain points.
Suppose a prospective buyer (a SaaS company using subscription-based pricing) uses the DealHub site. They read through guides, listen to the podcast, and uncover a few potential issues with their current processes.
When they request a demo, they outline their main problems:
- Managing subscription churn. They have too many subscribers to send individual emails when it’s time to renew or if there’s a payment issue, and they lose customers every year because of it.
- Document generation. They don’t have a particularly complicated product, but they spend a lot of time drawing up branded documents for each customer and getting them signed.
DealHub’s product streamlines these processes, but it also does several other things (e.g., integrates with other CRMs, configures complex products) listed on the website.
During the demo process, the seller puts themselves in the prospective buyer’s shoes. Instead of show them the whole product, they show the prospect its subscription management platform and document generation software.
That way, the prospect sees exactly how DealHub’s product can help them and how it would fit into their specific workflow.
2. Create good first impressions and long-lasting trust
First impressions are lasting impressions. They determine whether a prospect thinks a product can help them or not, and whether or not they can trust it.
Trust is critical during the buying decision process, especially in B2B contexts where deals involve multiple key stakeholders.
During an effective sales demo, the seller meets the buyer on their turf and focuses on their pain points. They take the time to explain how the product works, show it in action, and answer any questions or objections.
Ideally, they’re relatable and knowledgeable, and they build trust through their attitude and demeanor as well.
Between the personability of the seller and quality of the demo, this can change the buyer’s mindset from one of skepticism to one of belief, convincing them that the product is worth investing in.
3. Respond in real-time
When sellers respond to questions or objections in real-time, they’re able to show how the product works and demonstrate its value.
This is especially important for companies with a high degree of product complexity. Prospects may not understand a certain feature or concept until they can see them in action, and a demo provides the opportunity to do just that.
By responding to questions quickly and engaging with feedback, sellers create positive impressions of their customer service capabilities while educating potential buyers.
4. Increase conversion chances
Although buyers are more than halfway through their research before contacting sales, they still want to see the product in action before making a companywide change and investment.
When a sales demo is part of a transparent and positive buying experience, it can encourage decision makers to invest more time in evaluating the product, increasing opportunities for conversion down the line.
In some cases, demo participants will convert on the spot—the B2B SaaS industry average conversion rate is between 5% and 15%.
5. Build long-term relationships
Follow-up communication post-demo helps build long-term customer relationships that will result in return business and referrals further down the road.
There are several ways to do this:
- Follow-up emails. These should include customer feedback surveys, as well as contact information in case of further queries.
- Regular check-ins. Reaching out to buyers now and then shows that sellers are genuinely interested in helping them succeed with the product and build a relationship.
- Case studies and success stories. Examples of success stories help buyers see the value that the product has to offer, and it’s a great way to build trust.
- Referral programs. Even if one prospect isn’t through the buying process yet (or they aren’t a good fit for the product), they might refer a future one if they’re incentivized to do so.
By turning good first impressions into long-term relationships, sales demos are an effective way of driving revenue growth from multiple angles.
The Role of the Sales Demo in the B2B Customer Journey
Sales demos happen in the decision phase of the customer journey—that is, once a potential buyer has already conducted extensive research on the product and is ready to make an informed decision.
How the Sales Demo Benefits the Customer
When executed properly, sales demos tremendously benefit potential buyers. Here are eight of the most critical benefits:
- Personalized experience. Tailored sales demos helps buyers see how a product can solve their specific challenges. If it is a good fit, the product’s benefits improve their lives.
- Competitive pricing. Sellers sometimes offer sales discounts to prospects who are on the fence to sweeten the deal. Sitting in for a demonstration can help buyers get the best price for a product.
- Risk reduction. By experiencing a product firsthand, the potential buyer can assess its functionality and reliability, making the investment less risky for them.
- Direct interaction. Sales demos provide potential buyers the opportunity to clear any doubts or confusion about the product or service without making them wait for a response.
- Visual learning. Roughly 65% of people are visual learners. Seeing a product in action can be much more effective than reading a description, seeing static images, or watching animations.
- Assess compatibility. Sales presentations show prospects whether the product fits into their existing processes and systems or not. This is particularly beneficial for complex software or machinery.
- Informed decision-making. Understanding how a product works equips prospects to decide whether it’s worth the investment.
- Continued education. At the very least, a prospect will walk away from a successful sales demonstration more educated than they were before.
When to Deliver a Sales Demo
So as not to waste the rep’s (or the buyer’s) time, sales demos should only be delivered to prospects who are ready, and who have a good chance of converting.
A few sure-fire signs that a prospect is ready for a demo include:
- The potential buyer has already done their research into the product.
- They’ve looked around the company’s website and identified areas of potential interest.
- They have established a clear need for the product and understand how it can benefit their business.
- They are asking relevant questions and engage proactively.
- Their information fits the company’s ideal customer profile (ICP)
- In the case of a cold call, the SDR has uncovered clear pain points that the product can address and has established credibility with the buyer.
Who Delivers a Sales Demo
Sales demonstrations are delivered by a company salesperson. The position title may vary (e.g., Account Executive, Business Development Representative, or Sales Manager).
In some cases, the salesperson is supported by a customer success representative who can answer any technical questions the buyer may have.
For companies building advanced tech products, product managers and engineers are also involved in the sales demo process.
In all instances, the company members involved in the sales demo process are highly educated and knowledgeable about the product and its features.
How to Conduct a Sales Demo That Converts
For reps, product demos are actually one of the most time-consuming activities, and most don’y pay off.
The typical sales demo lasts between 20 minutes and one hour. Assuming the average SaaS conversion rate (5%-15%), that means between 85% and 95% of sales hours result in no immediate payoff.
This makes it even more important to maximize the success of demos by understanding their true purpose and delivering them strategically.
Here are some sales demo best practices to live by:
Preparation will make or break a sales demo—an unprepared rep might as well not bother with a demo at all.
Before a product demonstration, reps need to do their homework on the buyer and prepare an agenda (and any collateral) to keep them on track and ensure that all relevant questions are answered.
A day or so before the demo, it helps to send the prospect the agenda for their approval. This does two things:
- It affirms that they will show up for the presentation (no-show rates average around 20%)
- It gives them a chance to let reps know if there’s anything they’d like to add or talk about during the demo.
The day of the presentation, the agenda sets the tone for the sales call, making it as efficient as possible.
Listen and Understand the Customer’s Needs
Successful sales demos are about more than just showcasing the product catalog—they’re about creating a dialogue between the buyer and rep to uncover the customer’s needs and understand how the product can address them.
During the presentation, reps should focus on identifying problems that their solution can solve. Active listening and asking relevant questions to this end will make the buyer feel heard and valued—which in turn, builds trust and increases the likelihood of a successful conversion.
Here is an example dialogue between a customer and prospect that demonstrates active listening:
- Customer: “Right now, our biggest challenge is managing customer data across multiple systems.”
- Rep: “What do you mean by that? How does it currently affect your workflow?”
- Customer: “Well, we have to manually enter customer info into different systems and it always results in errors somewhere down the line.”
- Rep: “Do you think that’s costing you time, money, or both?”
- Customer: “That’s the thing… We don’t know, but we know it’s taking too long and creating a lot of extra work for us.”
- Rep: “It sounds like having a single, unified platform would make life much easier. Is that something you’re looking for?
Provide Solutions to Customer’s Problems
Sales demo structure should be flexible enough to adjust the presentation as they get feedback from buyers and use it to effectively tailor the demo according to their individual needs.
In the above example, the seller might have a mapped-out plan for their demo.
Upon learning the customer’s challenge with centralized data and manual entry, they could adjust their presentation to focus more on the product’s data integration capabilities.
Personalize the Demo
Sellers should personalize the demo every step of the way. This includes:
- Including the buyer’s name, department, and company in the presentation
- Using on-brand images to make their slides more memorable
- Integrating case studies that are relevant to the buyer’s industry and use-case
- Utilizing customer success stories when applicable
- Adding a personal touch with video or audio clips targeted at the buyer
These small touches help make a memorable impression on the buyer and show that reps are paying attention to their individual needs.
Provide Relevant Follow Up Material
At the end of a successful product demonstration, reps should always follow up with relevant materials like slides, videos, or company web content (e.g., articles, webinars, documentation) that go into more detail about the product features and business use cases.
This is a great opportunity for reps to leave a lasting impression and give buyers something tangible to review afterwards.
These materials also prove very useful when sharing the demo with other stakeholders within the buying organization.
The seller shouldn’t send too many resources (one or two is usually enough) but they should be relevant and comprehensive.
Include Data and Case Studies
Case studies can improve a company’s conversion rate by as much as 50%. When buyers see others’ success with a product, they can easily visualize the solution working for them as well.
Reps should be prepared to share customer success stories and data around metrics that matter to their customers.
This could be:
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Sales metrics
- Inbound leads
- Positive customer feedback
- Customer retention
- Operational efficiency
- Cost savings
Looking at a product in terms of proven historical benefits helps prospects see the potential upside. In turn, this increases the probability for conversion.
Discuss Next Steps
If a seller gets off a call without establishing a mutual understanding of what would happen next, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
While still on the call, reps should:
- Summarize the key points and takeaways
- Discuss next steps
- Outline timelines for follow-ups and/or implementation
- Confirm that any questions have been answered
In this way, reps can confirm that both parties are on the same page regarding objectives, expectations, and timelines.
Here’s a quick example of how this might go:
Rep: “We’ve discussed how our platform can help you streamline your data entry process and save time and money. My next step will be to send a follow-up email with some additional materials, then we can schedule a call next week to discuss pricing options. Does that sound like a good plan?”
The customer would then either confirm the plan or suggest a different timeline. Either way, this helps reps keep the conversation and momentum going so deals don’t get stuck in limbo.
Follow Up Afterward
Even though the vast majority of sales require five or more follow-up calls, 44% of reps give up after just one.
Poor customer responsiveness doesn’t mean a disinterested prospect—a multitude of personal and professional factors could contribute to a potential buyer’s nonresponse.
Following up doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. It just has to be done.
Here are a few tips:
- Send an email to summarize the demo, reiterate next steps, and include additional materials
- Add prospects to the company CRM system for easy follow up tracking
- Follow-up via phone or social media
Of course, a seller doesn’t have to be aggressive. In the case of a no-response, a seller should wait about a week before following up again.
Sales Demo Software and Tools
There are lots of different software that improve the sales demo process. To optimize the sales cycle and achieve ultimate visibility, sellers need the following tools:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software provides a central place for reps to store customer information (name, company, interests) and log activities.
It lets reps look into previous customer interactions, including website visits if it’s integrated with the company’s website analytics platform.
During preparation and post-demo follow-up, CRM helps sellers visually move prospects through the sales funnel, monitor their outreach cadence, and keep track of information they’ve already sent over.
It also helps them optimize their time by showing them which leads are dead and which ones are ready to move forward.
Effective sales demos require well-crafted presentations.
For video conferencing, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Skype are the platforms of choice.
Some sellers choose to perform product demos using Loom (screen recording and video hosting software) or HubSpot’s Video Tools.
CPQ software streamlines the sales process during and after the demo. It has a built-in product configurator that lets them assemble a personalized quote in real-time—a helpful feature for buyers looking for more insight into potential cost.
It also ensures that reps don’t miss any important details, such as tax codes and discounts.
Sales Enablement Tools
Sales enablement describes the practice of equipping sales reps with content and resources to improve their performance.
Sales enablement tools make it easier for sellers to create, store, access and share customized content during demos.
This includes several different types of software:
- AI sales tools that give real-time feedback during product demos
- Document sharing platforms that let reps share materials with buyers during the meeting
- Content libraries for on-demand access
- Reporting and analysis tools that provide insights into customer behavior.
- Integrations like Zapier, which create automatic triggers when certain events take place.
Although they serve different purposes in the sales tech stack, each sales enablement tool shares the same end goal: drive sales demos to more effective completion.
People Also Ask
What should be included in a sales demo?
Sales demos vary wildly from company to company. Briefly, here is a list of elements every sales demo should include:
An introduction of the seller and a brief overview of their product or service
A demonstration of how the product works
Examples of customer success (e.g., case studies, testimonials, data points)
Highlighting unique features and benefits over competitors
Inviting questions from prospects at any point during the presentation
Discussion around pricing, licensing options, and other relevant topics
Next steps for the prospect
Sending additional materials as necessary
How long is a typical sales demo?
In general, a sales demo should not be shorter than 20 minutes or longer than an hour. Shorter demos don’t provide enough time to explain the product in depth, while longer ones can be tiresome for prospects and sellers.
What’s the difference between a product demo and a sales demo?
“Product demo” and “sales demo” are often used interchangeably. Linguistically, the only distinguishing factor between the two is that a “sales demo” explicitly refers to a demonstration that takes place during the sales process. Product demos, which can be part of a larger sales demo, focus solely on how the product functions.