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Sales Demos: Where Deals Go to Die

sales demos

“We have a great product; just get them to the demo, and the software sells itself!”

Wouldn’t that be nice? ...If only it were true.

Software rarely sells itself, but over and over again, I see software companies skipping critical steps in the sales process to get to the demo.

Here’s how the sales process plays out for companies who make this mistake.

Killing the Deal

What is the first thing visitors see when they come to your website? “Sign Up for a Free Trial” or “Schedule a Demo”?

The prospect completes a form and gets an email from a business development rep who manages everyone’s demo schedule. After a few emails back-and-forth, they get something on the calendar.

Demo time comes two days later. An assigned salesperson meets the prospect for the first time, conducts a brief introduction, asks a few questions, and launches straight into the demo. The sales demos are all about how the software can do this and how it can do that…feature, feature, feature.

That’s when the deal starts to crumble. The prospect is on the other line, distracted, multitasking, spraying their chair with WD-40 while we go on feature dumping in the background. Once in a while, we hit on something that triggers their interest. They ask, “Can the software do this?” and we respond, “Yep, let’s jump over to this screen and let me show you how that FEATURE works.” Of course we think, “This is going great,” but at the end of the demo, the prospect isn’t ready to buy, and they have no plans or thoughts about moving forward with next steps.

Sales spends the next two to three months following up with the same old question, “Where are you guys in the process of making a decision to move forward?” The prospect responds, “We’re tied up with other big projects right now. Call me in six months.”

Six months?!!! How does that happen? It's simple. We don’t REALLY KNOW WHY the prospect needs our product. We skipped the critical discovery and needs analysis stage of the sales process. When we skip this step, it weakens our demo and kills our ability to follow up effectively.

Winning the Deal

When you speak with enough prospects, it’s common practice to lump needs into broad categories like saving time and money, improving processes and efficiency, building structure and accountability, etc.

Broad categories make it sound like you know what’s going on, but it’s an illusion. Every client has their own story, and winning deals is about understanding the need behind the need.

Ask questions like:

  • Why do they need to improve efficiency?

  • Who is responsible for results?

  • What specific problems can we pinpoint within the current business process?

  • What is the impact on the business?

  • How does it affect the people involved?

  • Whose job is on the line?

That’s the kind of information you need going into a demo.

Stop sending deals to die, and never lead with a sales demo without doing discovery. Leverage insights, be relevant, sell in context, and share the advantages of using your platform to solve specific business problems. You’ll build better engagement, your prospects will trust you, and you’ll win more new business.

art of the sales email from xoombi inbound marketing www.xoombi.com


Doyle Slayton


Doyle Slayton

Call Me at 214.494.9315

Doyle Slayton is an internationally recognized Sales and Leadership Strategist, Speaker, and Blogger. He is Co-Founder of xoombi, a sales acceleration company and sales driven marketing agency that works with CXO's to develop, implement, and execute inbound marketing and inbound sales strategies. xoombi strengthens your outbound with inbound to help grow your business.


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