Account Executive

May 12, 2023

Combining Discovery & Demo: Close Deals on the First Call (Guide)

“If people want a demo…give 'em a demo.”🎙️

We live in a try-before-you-buy world, yet most software shops refuse to adapt.

Insisting on BANTing the prospects into no-decision & scheduling months of next steps.

So if you refuse to give away the product free (understandable), where’s the compromise?

Meet in the middle: give a demo on the first call as often as possible.

Product-Led Sales: Why should I run first call sales demos?

Let’s say you’re considering a huge decision like buying a house (I know, I know, even in this economy.)

The biggest purchase of your life. But the realtor runs a few discovery meetings to understand you before showing that dream house.

That dream then sold to another buyer who saw it faster.

Time to find another realtor.

Run sales demos on the first call or you will miss out

Drastic example, but more often than not, buyers go with the first demo they see.

Some Gartner numbers to back that claim up:

  • Modern buyers do 80% of their research before filling out a demo form
  • 33% of buyers prefer a light-touch sales experience
  • Close to 50% of next-generation buyers (Millennials like me) prefer no seller at all

Scary to think about as a seller, but there’s a middle ground: first call sales demos.

Here’s how to them master before, during, & after the meeting.

First Call Sales Demo Questions

Before the Demo

Prior Research (before the meeting)

Find potential buying signals & begin to dig up what's going on.

You’re building a hypothesis around what they are seeking in a solution.

Some typical buying signals (there's way more):

1. Recent hiring of people that are ideal users

  • Hypothesis: Looking for ways to solve a problem in the department you impact. They can’t manage the current flow or want to create a new one.

2. Leadership changes (Founder-led sales to first VP of Sales hire)

  • Hypothesis: Priorities are changing & time to scale repeatable sales.

3. A new product launches

  • Hypothesis: It was built for a reason. New verticals are up for grabs, chasing competition, building their lead, etc.

Know your personas well, spot those signals, & build assumptions.

Discovery (first 5-10 minutes)

That's a short window to find a problem, quantify it, & provide a solution.

Maximize your time together.

Skip the "how's the weather" rapport building & get to the “Why you should care about what I’m gonna show you” part.

Research Problem Assumptions

Take your prior research & apply it conversationally. Ask leading, yet direct questions to start digging in together.

Phrase each buying signal with:

“I saw X happened…I'm assuming Y is next.”

Here’s a real transcript excerpt from one of our recent first call sales demos:

Hypothesis Selling in action from Pickle transcription

Junior dives right into their recent hires & confirmed it’s relevant to the demo.

Use meeting transcription software to review sales excerpts like this in your training.

Lead The Witness”

Now that the prior research has been established & hypotheses are proven/disproven. It’s time to go a step further.

Take the accurate hypothesis & expand the scope. Predict the future a bit.

Essentially emphasize the problem impacts & widen the GAP (shoutout to Keenan)

Here’s another transcript excerpt from the same first call sales demo above:

Identify problems and create the gap in action from Pickle transcription

An example of identifying & confirming the problem. Then using their own description as a base to uncover impact questions.

In this case Junior phrased the impact like this:

“Have you felt like because of (problem), you’ve lost X opportunities?”

During the Sales Demo (10-15 minutes)

The Custom Demo Template

The first 5-10 minutes have flown by with impactful problem conversations.

Now it’s time to reveal your solutions in sales demo form.

Show how you’d solve their biggest problems:

  • Focus on how you do it better than their current state.
  • Prioritize differentiated features (something only you do or something you do better than the competition).

Show no more than three features!

Any more & they’re zoning out:

Feature #1 - Whatever their biggest perceived problem is.

Automatic meeting notes are usually the big draw in our demos. Especially in the example above.

So we demo that first. Describing the functions in their terms & using their process.

Pickle Smart Notes for Zoom

Feature #2 - The thing people love most about the product

You’ve checked the box they came for; now it’s time to impress.

Take what they came for & show them the best version of themselves using it.

In our case, they came for auto-meeting notes.

But they’re blown away by how they can tie notes back into the Pickle recording page & jump to specific moments in a single click.

Pickle recording page with snapshots

Feature #3 - Compelling story tied to a feature

Now for the finale. Sure, you have 50 other features to dump, but have some restraint.

Instead, show one last specific feature based on a compelling customer use case story.

Again, in our case:

Most customers buy for the smart notes, stay for the recording page, then add the team because of Snapshots (ability to send specific clips to teammates & prospects)

Sharing snapshots anywhere with Pickle

It’s an impactful way to elevate the original problem in the context of another person in a similar position.

Emphasize how it helped those other customers become their ideal versions of themselves.

Show 3 features that flow in a natural progression & tell a story that truly solves your buyers problem.

After the Sales Demo (Final 5-10 minutes)

You’ve covered a lot in a tight window, but the last 5-10 minutes are crucial.

Time to ask some specific leading questions to flesh out every reason they wouldn't move forward today or ever.

The questions will be specific to the outcome of the conversation, but here are some generic examples:

  • “What stood out to you most?”
  • “What would (feature) allow you to do that you’re unable to do currently?”
  • “Is there anything that would cause you not to move forward?”

These questions help uncover objections & concerns that did not come up throughout the conversation.

Talk through the concerns on the spot if possible or follow up in more detail after the meeting.

Of course, dependent on your sales process or their timeline, go for the close if you’ve checked every box.

There are other methods you can follow.

But when your research is right, lean in, combine your sales process, & win more efficiently.

Back to the Demo menu

Next article: How to Customize Sales Demos

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Pickle writes to their friends every few weeks with spicy tips to make their wall-to-wall meetings suck less.
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