A series of essays about sales, startups, & general banter by Nick Persico

The Unscheduled Demo Call

Almost every enterprise SaaS sales process involves scheduling product demos. These events, demos, webinars, Gotomeetings, or Skype calls are the bane of every inside sales rep’s existence. But they’re important. Demo calls are designed to inform the prospective buyer of how amazing you are, and how much time and money they will be saving by using your product.

The problem isn’t the demo call itself, it’s the amount of time and energy sales reps spend on getting to the demo call.

Have you ever thought about how much time your sales team wastes scheduling and tracking demo calls each week? Ironically, it’s probably more than the amount of time they spend actually doing demo calls.

Does this sound familiar?

Sales Rep: “I wanted to give you a call to schedule a time next week to do a product demo and see if it would be a good fit for your company.”

Prospect: [Various questions about how the product/service works].

Sales Rep: [Answers various questions about how the product/service works].

Sales Rep: “We will be able to answer that next week when we do the product demo. What day/time works for you?”

Then both parties take several minutes to compare calendar availability and small talk.

There’s no better time than right now

Cold calling a prospect to schedule a future “proper” sales call is a courteous and realistic approach to phone sales. But what if you could be courteous, aggressive, and pragmatic all at the same time?

As Mr.Spock would say, change the prime directive from getting a scheduled demo to doing the demo on the spot.

Possible outcomes when scheduling a future demo call:

  • The call gets rescheduled.
  • The prospect doesn’t show up.
  • The prospect changes their mind/raises objections.
  • The call goes as scheduled.

Possible outcomes when asking for the demo now:

  • The prospect says no, and you schedule a future time anyway.
  • The prospect agrees, and you immediately go into the demo.
  • Pending you’ve asked the prospect if now is a good time to talk, you should always attempt to do your product demo on the spot.

A sample approach: “Are you in front of a computer? (Who isn’t these days?) I can share my screen and do a quick demo with you right now, it only takes me 5-8 minutes.”

If your prospect declines, you can still schedule a demo at a later date. No harm, no foul. However, setting the expectation that your demo is quick and painless certainly helps the chances that they show up for the scheduled call.

Turn your product demo into an elevator pitch

Now that your prospect has agreed to see your quick demo, it actually needs to be quick. There is a lot of symbolism in making your demo quick. Quick feels easy and painless, and that’s how users should feel when working with your product.

Don’t get bogged down showing off all of the shiny buttons and details. Show them the benefits of your product that translate to their job being easier or more fulfilling.

Also, leave out the part about being able to share whatever with whoever on Facebook and Twitter.

Your attitude should make the prospect feel privledged about what their seeing. Then once they start asking about the details, you’ve got yourself a new potential opportunity without the hassle of miraculously getting them on the phone again.

Tips & tricks

  • Do not use any screen sharing software that requires your prospect to download software or a plugin. I recommend doing all product demos with Join.me. All you have to do is tell the prospect to go to www.join.me and type in a 9-digit code. It’s free.

  • Be in control of the experience. Don’t blindly send them to a demo website.

  • Each week, track your completed demo calls, not scheduled ones. It’s meaningless to quantify success by how full next week’s calendar looks.

Profile of Nick Persico

Nick Persico

Director of Sales at Close.com. Previous: Co-Founder of Smart Host (acquired), VP of Ops at Krossover (acquired), and sales at Sysco. Travel nerd, Baltimore Orioles and Ravens fan, and GIF enthusiast.