Here’s the deal. That REQUEST A DEMO button on your website is offering demos to anyone who wants to see your products. You’re on the hook to give them a demo, and if they want to play hardball, they’re not the least bit obligated to tell you why they’re interested.

Is this a good way to drive high-quality leads into the top-of-the-funnel? Before you answer the question, be sure to separate the emotional feel-good part from the factual reality.

Of course, if you have metrics that tell you it’s working, there’s no need to fix it!

The Feel-Good Part

You’re getting a high volume of demo requests. It feels good. There’s lots of interest in your products and you’re busy scheduling and doing demos.

It’s easy to think things are going great because of all the activity. But, are things really going great or is it just a pipeline mirage?

The pipeline mirage happens when so many of the people requesting demos are far removed from the decision-makers. In many cases they don’t even understand the real business requirements let alone the strategic buying drivers behind the evaluation.

These are easy-come, easy-go prospects that have merely been tasked to go create a candidate list of vendors to be evaluated. Sure, they’ll give you good feedback on the demo (still feels good) and tell you how much they like it. Then they’ll ask you for a pricing proposal.

Still in the feel-good stage? Yup! Then they go radio silent. After 5 emails and 3 phone calls, they’ll finally respond with something like, “the project has been moved down the priority list because of more urgent initiatives,” or “we won’t be able to get it funded this year.”

Having fun yet?

The Reality Part

The reality part gets back to sales qualification 101. If you can’t get solid answers to the WHAT & WHY questions early in the sales process, your demo efforts could be all for naught.

In the ideal world, you’d always have a discovery call before a demo. But that’s not reality when the REQUEST A DEMO button is an open invitation to see a demo with no pre-qualification whatsoever.

There are plenty of talented pre-sales and salespeople who can mix in discovery conversations with a demo and walk away with enough information to know whether the interest is real or not.

The problem is that the people asking for the demos in many cases, don’t even know if the evaluation is real. There might be a compelling driver but no budget. Or worse yet, someone thinks your solution is a good idea and they’re kicking tires as part of a bottom-up effort. Who has time for missionary work?

Here’s the other problem. Salespeople love the REQUEST A DEMO button. It becomes a crutch. They don’t even want to think about missing an opportunity.

Bottom line: determine the percentage of these demos that turn into qualified prospects, and wins. Then decide if that’s an acceptable hit rate for the effort required to get them.

The Better Alternative – SEE A DEMO Button!

You don’t need to do live demos and proposals to smoke out the pretenders from the contenders.  This is where high-fidelity video demos can deliver tremendous benefit.

The problem with most video demos is they’re little more than a feature dump. They don’t articulate a strong value story that’s supported with feature highlights. They’re simply a feature highlight reel, a turnoff to most buyers.

Then there’s the paranoia factor. You don’t want a demo that’s too informative or too good because your competitors will use it against you. Guess what? They already know your weaknesses and how you position against them! Don’t let this become an obstacle to good top-of-the-funnel marketing.

Try this.

  • Create a 5 to 7-minute demo video that’s 70% value dialogue and 30% features. The 3-minute video rule doesn’t really apply here!
  • Gate the demo and require interested parties to tell you who they are before they get access.
  • Replace the REQUEST A DEMO button with SEE A DEMO.

Now your salespeople have a reason to call someone. You know what they’ve seen, and you know the story they’ve heard. The right to start asking the qualifying questions about buying drivers, budget, timelines, etc. is perfectly appropriate. One conversation tells you if the evaluation is real or not.

The video demo should leave viewers wanting for more. It gives serious buyers a reason to talk with your salespeople. The ones that blow you off are tire-kickers you didn’t want to mess with anyway.

The endgame here is to put your sales and pre-sales teams in a position to spend quality time on higher probability opportunities.

The verdict for most of you? Chuck the REQUEST A DEMO button and do your salespeople a favor! It’ll feel much better than the busywork required to qualify everyone that just wants to see a demo.

The 70/30 Demo Script

Want to learn how to create your differentiating value story in demo format? Contact us about a demo workshop where you’ll learn how to deliver outcome-based value demos that shorten sales cycles and create a greater urgency to buy.

Related Articles here.