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10 min read

Are Live Demos a Good Idea for SaaS Sales?

Are Live Demos a Good Idea for SaaS Sales?

Product demos provide valuable insight to prospects when it comes to SaaS sales. They can help you close more deals and stand out from the competition. Live demos give prospective customers the opportunity to see what your product does for them, how easy it is to use in different scenarios, and the various functions of each feature individually. Obviously, when you customize the demo to the prospect’s pain points, the value is much clearer. Overall, live demos help you eliminate any guessing or misunderstanding about the prospect’s needs before signing on the dotted line.

Live demos, pre-recorded demos, and real use demos are the most common techniques used today. But in 2021, we expect more from SaaS demos. 2021 is the age of personalization, analytics, and data, and these features should be integrated into every aspect of marketing and sales efforts. Demos are no exception.

So are live demos a good idea for SaaS sales? In this article, we’ll go over the benefits and risks of the various demo options.

What are live demos?

Back in the day, live demos were face-to-face meetings where the sales rep visited prospects’ offices and showcased the product then and there. However, as the world became one big village and SaaS companies began marketing internationally, those face-to-face meetings switched to video conferences via Zoom or Skype – while sales reps manage the “show and tell” from their shared screen.

Live demos are a good idea because prospects love to see what they buy before they commit, and a live demo is one way for sales reps to “show, not tell” the value of their solution. The demo phase is the perfect opportunity to activate your sales skills and show off your solution to get the prospect buzzing with excitement to buy.‍

Pros and cons of live SaaS product demos

Pros

  • Highly customized— During a live demo, you have the ability to personalize the demo based on how the conversation is going and any information that comes up during the meeting. 
  • Clear value proposition— When you meet face-to-face (or Zoom-to-Zoom) with prospects, you can explain the key value while you simultaneously demo the product, which can help prospects have that “Aha!” moment much faster.  
  • Somewhat engaging— Live demos can be engaging because you have the option to check in on the prospect throughout the demo and make sure what you are showcasing is really relevant for their needs. 

Cons

  • High development costs— Old school live demos require a significant amount of R&D resources to build a sandbox environment that can be used during these types of demos. 
  • Time-consuming— Traditional live demos can eat up a lot of time because you need to schedule a meeting with all of the different stakeholders that are part of the buying committee.
  • Possible demo bugs— During a live demo, anything can happen, including having your demo bug out. And this can put a bad taste in your prospect’s mouth. 
  • Possible software downtime— Another issue you can run into is long loading times or downtime during a live demo. 

The risks vs. advantages of live demos

There are benefits and risks to providing a live demo experience. It’s the most delicate step in the sales cycle, so it’s essential to get it right. Getting the live demo right mainly requires keeping prospects engaged and in buying mode. While getting it wrong means losing the attention of prospects with long boring tutorials, so be careful here.

Honestly, it’s no easy task to keep prospects engaged when the live demo experience can be far from smooth. Like the frustratingly familiar scenario of “can you hear me?” and the notorious “I think I lost you there,” everyone hates to hear.

While live demos provide relatively high one-on-one engagement and draw the prospect closer to a sale, they come at a price. For example, prospects can’t “test drive” the software, and there’s no control over the dreaded software hiccups, and they do happen. It can be challenging to keep a prospect interested in bug-riddled software that doesn’t work correctly. Another cost is the investment in skilled salespeople and sales training needed to provide custom demos at scale – it can get expensive fast. But one of the most frustrating aspects is the dependency on other teams for the slightest of changes.

Although the B2B world may not be the most exciting thing ever, lulling prospects to sleep with extended and uninspiring demos is a real possibility. And yet, live demos are still going strong. But there are other options out there.

Types of live demos for SaaS

In a review of 78 SaaS companies, the stats show us the breakdown of the most common types of demos:

  • Live demo (70%)
  • Pre-recorded demo (27%)
  • Real-use demos (3%)

There’s a reason live demos are so widely used. Live SaaS product demos enable the personalization and engagement necessary for building relationships with prospects. The secret is focusing on the customer 100% of the time.

So what are the other demo options, and what benefits and risks do they offer?‍

The pre-recorded demo

Pre-recorded demos are usually dull walkthroughs of the product’s features. That’s why they are often tedious and have lower conversion rates. Not only that but, they kill the opportunity to personalize the pitch to the prospect’s pain point. Additionally, pre-recorded demos usually don’t hold the viewer’s attention, make the whole process blend, and worst of all, prospects aren’t engaged and can’t ask questions. You’re lucky if they skip to what interests them but it’s more likely they’ll close the video and move on.

But there is one significant benefit to pre-recorded demos — they don’t require ongoing resources and time and can be efficiently repurposed with a demo script.

Pros and cons of pre-recorded SaaS demos

Pros:

  • Easily repurposed
  • Easy to scale
  • Works every time
  • Zero development

Cons:

  • Impossible to customize
  • Unclear value proposition
  • Impossible to test drive
  • Not interactive
  • Low user engagement ‍

Real-use demos

Real-use software demos are the most engaging of demos. They make customers feel like kids in a “please touch everything” museum because they allow customers to interact with your product freely. Usually, these demos are highly customized, so the results are pretty good. But there are some downsides to this option, too.

For one thing, if your product has a learning curve, people might not know where or how to ask you questions about using the app. That may cause them to give up on using your software before understanding the value it provides. Similarly to live demos, real use demos require additional resources from the development team, increasing the up-front cost to design, code, and deploy demos. Lastly, it means the salesperson is dependent on the development team for every little thing making this process frustrating and harder to scale. ‍

Pros and cons of Real-use product demos

Pros:

  • Highly customizable
  • Clear value proposition
  • Interactive demo
  • High user engagement

Cons:

  • High dependency on the development team
  • Time-consuming
  • High development costs
  • Possible software hiccups

But what if there was no upfront development cost but rather a streamlined process with zero development resources and a whole lot of data?

The components of an effective live demo

When it comes to creating a winning live demo, there are a few key components that you’ll want to make sure are included:

1. Attention-grabbing intro— The second your live demo starts, you need to captivate your prospect and get them interested in learning more about your product.

2. Clear demo flow— You need to make sure that your demo flow is well thought out to ensure that it makes sense and is easy to follow for your prospect.

3. Interactivity— When you use an interactive demo, it makes the experience more engaging for your prospect and helps them visualize what it’d actually be like to use your product. 

4. Straightforward value proposition— Make sure you clearly explain how your product can address the buyer’s specific pain points. 

5. Prominent CTA— End your demo with a prominent CTA so that it’s clear what the next steps are.  

Best practices for a successful SaaS live demo

Now, let’s go over some best practices to help you ensure that your live demos can get deals done.

Research your audience

Before you even think about giving a live demo, you need to do your homework on your prospect.

This means understanding their interests, goals, and pain points. On top of this, you should also know about the persona you’re speaking to and the industry that they’re in. 

This will allow you to tailor the demo and showcase how your product will meet their specific needs. 

Keep it short 

Nobody, we repeat, nobody wants to sit through an hour long call where you list feature after feature. 

Not to mention, according to Walnut data, prospects spend only about six minutes viewing interactive demos. 

So, prospects will appreciate it if you keep your demo short and sweet, focusing on the one or two specific features that can address their pains. 

This will help you ensure that you show buyers only what they need to see and don’t overwhelm them. 

Make your live demos interactive

We touched on this earlier, but we wanted to come back to this because it’s absolutely critical. 

Your live demo should help prospects imagine what it would be like to use your product in their day-to-day lives. And making your live demo interactive will let you do that because it allows buyers to click freely through the product.

In addition, it makes the demo experience much more engaging.

Leave time for questions or objections

Don’t forget to save time at the end for questions. 

This will allow you to address any lingering concerns or handle objections that the buyer has. 

By leaving time to listen to the prospect’s questions or concerns, you show that you aren’t just trying to make a sale and that you really care about finding a solution that meets their needs.

Use an interactive demo platform 

By using an interactive demo platform (like Walnut), it’s easy to deliver personalized and engaging interactive demos that clearly demonstrate your product’s value prop.

Not to mention, some interactive demo platforms (like Walnut) allow you to not only create interactive demos for live demo calls, but also for every other stage in the sales funnel. 

With these types of platforms, you can also analyze your demos’ performance to understand what’s working and what could be improved.

Real use interactive demo at scale

With the right tool, you can take your sales experience to the next level by creating customized demos on-demand with zero development involved. You’ll finally be able to have your cake and eat it too, because you’ll have the ability to create customized interactive demos with just a few clicks, no code, and a whole lot of insightful data. ‍

Introducing Walnut

Walnut eliminates the most significant obstacle (coding) and empowers every salesperson in your team to generate customized demos in minutes. In addition, because every link is unique, you get built-in analytics that collects users’ data so you can discover what features are more attractive to your prospect without having to guess or ask. With Walnut, every prospect can get a personalized demo without changing anything in the existing software or relying on other departments.

Start producing highly engaging demos at scale

The importance of the demo phase is known to everyone in the B2B SaaS industry, and getting it right is paramount to success. After examining the existing demo possibilities, it’s safe to say personalized and interactive demos like Walnut are what prospects and salespeople are looking for. They make the demo much more engaging, provide insightful data, and bring a little more oomph to the sales funnel.

So, now that you found a tool that can help you succeed with fewer resources, are you ready to step up your sales game? Click here to get started with product demo software today.

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