The top sales reps in the world are experts at running an ironclad demo that virtually guarantees them a very solid chance at closing the deal. If you are all the way to a demo (past prospectings, qualification, needs analysis), then you should know this: top reps are closing between 70-80% of all prospects at this stage. Over 17 months and nearly 120 demos, I once closed 102 of them. Think that’s impossible? It’s actually not even that hard...once you know the secrets. Read on.
For starters, this guide is not for everyone. Every product and organization has its own “flow” for a demo. Some mandate scripting down to the last word. Others allow reps to freewheel and do whatever is most likely to lead to sale. But most companies fall somewhere in the middle: reps have a general guideline they should follow, with the ability to zoom in/out. They can skip over certain sections that don’t make sense or add in details where the customer asks. But if you listened to 100 demos, they would be relatively the same.
Does this sound like your sales process? Great, then this next section is going to help you dramatically increase your demo to closed-won ratio. Welcome to Mastering the Demo. There is only 1 step (+1 preliminary step) here:
Before you continue, it is imperative you read the Needs Analysis Guide. Otherwise, the below information will be useless to you. Pay special attention to Step 3: Asking The Right Questions. Without mining for all of the Diamonds, you won’t be able to use this guide.
Have you carefully asked your prospect all of the questions to extract every last value prop they might be interested in? Are you bursting at the seams with relevant case studies and a product demo that’s going to blow their mind? Great, you’re ready to Cash In The Diamonds.
Selling Through Customer Stories
After you’ve patiently mined for every last pain or future benefit your product could offer and you have a basket full of ways to sell this customer, it’s time to start cashing in. Most sales reps get what’s known as Commission Breath here: coming across as overeager, junior, and too excited to be a seasoned vet.
The top sales professionals are consultants to their clients. They offer impartial advice to every customer because they are experts in their field who have done this a million times. They have a deep understanding of how to solve these specific set of challenges. And they unemotionally impart that knowledge in a detached way, because they don’t care if the customer is going to buy or not. They only care that the customer knows what the right decision is based on their wisdom.
How do they achieve this effect?
It’s simple: rather than showing their product, they explain how the same product has solved the exact same challenge for somebody else.
How does this work? Here’s an example of how I would cash in on the diamond we found in the Needs Analysis Guide of the VP Sales not having access to performance data on LinkedIn:
You’d mentioned previously that you don’t have access to sales performance data on LinkedIn or resumes, so you instead use previous employers as proxy for screening candidates right?
This is one of the most common challenges that hiring managers face, both inside and out of sales. When hiring an engineer, no VP Engineering uses LinkedIn. Instead, they use a site called GitHub that has the entire code history of that engineer. When hiring a designer, no VP Design uses LinkedIn.
They have a site called Dribbble that has a portfolio of the designer’s work which shows whether they are actually good at design. This concept is called “proof-of-work” and is the modern replacement to LinkedIn / resumes. This is one of the key reasons why hiring salespeople is so hard. There hasn’t been a way to validate whether the rep you’re interviewing is a top performer, hit quota last quarter or not, what deals they’ve closed, how they rank on their sales team, what their customers say about them, etc. Essentially, the “work product” of a salesperson.
I’m going to stop there. Notice 2 things:
- I started by explaining how other hiring managers (outside of sales) have solved this problem.
- I have showed 0 product at this point.
The ideal reaction from the prospect here is something like:
Wow that’s so interesting. So Bravado is like the “GitHub for Sales” or something?*
But what if you don’t get that? What if they say something bland like “Huh, didn’t know that” or “So what does that have to do with us?” Do you just press forward with the demo?
NO. Do not do that. The product is not going to win you a deal.
Great salespeople never throw spaghetti up on the wall and hope it sticks. They have a calculated journey that they’re taking the prospect through. If the customer is not in the right frame of mind to receive the value prop, it will fall flat. You need to prime them until the moment is right. Throwing the product in someone’s face when they are confused is not the way. Here’s what I’d say instead:
The reason I mention that is: we have 4 employers in Bravado Jobs that are hiring exactly the same profile of salesperson that you are. Hooli and Stark Labs are particularly relevant because they are also focused on selling to CTOs, so they have similar requirements on previous experience. What was interesting about Hooli is that they realized that 40% of their top reps were folks they would have skipped over on LinkedIn, because there was nothing to suggest they would actually outperform from a resume. And in Stark’s case, they found 3 hires through our proprietary data set. 2 of those reps are making P-Club this year because they were able to use their existing Rolodex to shortcut their ramp period by bringing customers they had previous relationships with over. This is data you can’t get on LinkedIn or a resume.
Again, I’m waiting for the sweet sound of confirmation. I’ve given the prospect 3 more reasons to get excited (finding hidden gems, shorter ramp times, existing Rolodex).
Odds are good that by this point, the prospect is ready to say something like: “This sounds awesome, I’d love to see what your profiles look like!”
And now you’ve got them. You can now finally showcase the product and how it will help them hire like never before.
Mastering the demo actually requires very little product expertise. Once you understand the psychology of how humans get influenced and make decisions, it’s relatively simple to convert the majority of demos into closed-won deals:
- Identify all of the pains your product can solve for the prospect
- Explain how other customers have successfully solved these same pains
- Show how the product will do the same for the prospect
Rinse and repeat. It sounds simple because it is. Sales isn’t rocket science (and nobody would mistake us for learned people!), but it does require a tremendous amount of patience and practice. With both, you too can convert 70%+ of your demos into closed-wons.