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
  • Clear value proposition
  • Somewhat engaging

Cons:

  • High development costs
  • Time-consuming
  • Possible demo bugs
  • Possible software downtime

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.

Common types of SaaS product demos

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 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.

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 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?

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 today.