The majority of not-so-good SaaS demos I’ve taken part in started with either a whirlwind tour of the product or a long, detailed account of the problems the product solved. Time and time again I noticed people would lose attention, their eyes glazing over. People were just not interested.
What I found that works incredibly well is telling a story for them to identify with. Here’s a story I give when demoing SeaDrive (a learning management system for seafarers) to potential customers:
A handful of your able seamen on one of your bulk carriers have a few hours some downtime so they head to the smoking room to hang out. Rather than pulling the first mate away from his duties to pick out a training DVD for them to watch he gathers the crew around the LCD TV and fires up SeaDrive. Since the assignment list is the first screen he picks the training video a the top of the list and plays it for the crew.
At the end of the week you drill down into the vessels report and see the training the crew completed for the week. You notice some gaps in the assessments so you assign some refresher training to make sure those gaps are filled.
Note that this scenario is kind of like a Mad Libs. Before I jump into the actual demo I’m either pulling details about the company from our CRM or have asked the customer directly earlier in the call.
Story telling is helpful for customers because it paints a picture of how the system will fit into their workflow. It does not need to be precise. It just needs to fit into their mental model.
Tips on giving software demos
- Don’t get into the weeds. The details don’t matter. Especially if this is the first time they are seeing the system.
- Wow them with some of the cool features. For example, maybe you have a cool drag-and-drop feature you implemented. Roll it into your story and demo.
- Go slow. Take your time. Speak loudly and clearly. Be precise with your word choices.
- Set your demos for peak engagement hours. This is generally between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Or at least keep them away from the least product hours of the day. This is after 3:00 pm
- Take notes about what works and what does not. What resonates with people and what does not. Improve your demos over time.
- Your goal is to activate people. You need to get them to be engaged. This means taking the time between each demo milestone to make sure they’re still on track. Ask them questions as you move along such as “does this feature/process/etc. align with your needs/workflows/requirements? This often ends up being a great learning experience because when you are able to hit on a pain point customers will open up giving you an opportunity to position your product as the solution.