I still vividly remember the very first software-as-a-service (SaaS) demo I performed. I’d just been promoted from Sales Development Intern to full-time Account Executive at the newly formed file-sharing division of Citrix Systems and was eager to carve out my place on the live leaderboard of closers. The night before that first GoToMeeting, I was so worried about forgetting to mention a potential feature or step in the sales process that I quickly drafted a “demo worksheet” to use as a cheat-sheet.
As a result of recording, measuring, and assessing my performance from day 1, I made it to the top 10 in my first month, and never looked back. In retrospect, I attribute my growth to the lessons learned from these demo worksheets.
I’ve put together my recipe for creating a first-rate SaaS demo worksheet that will help you get your sales team ramped up and selling.
There is so much that can and will go wrong during a software demo that you should keep the basics in front of you and perform some light technical preparation to set yourself up for success. This means taking steps to declutter your desktop, preload all necessary screens, and close all installation dialogs and real-time notifications.
Anything that could otherwise distract you or your potential client from the product itself is enemy of the state. Nir Eyal has a fantastic piece on clearing your computer of focus draining distraction that can easily be repurposed for software sales.
Before the demo, also take time to write down the basics. Critical sales information doesn’t have to be complex or verbose to be extremely valuable. It can be as simple as clearly stating your client(s) first name to keep you from getting tongue tied. Remembering name preferences, like “Jimbo, not James, only gets more important as you progress into juggling hundreds of contacts in your pipeline.
Pre-Demo Qualification Review
This is where you should also review simple qualifying information from the sales development representative (or whoever qualified the prospect for the demo, even if that was you). At Abacus, our superstar SDR’s gather basic situational questions like:
- What is your current accounting solution?
- Do you have both corporate card users and users with reimbursable expenses?
- Do your employees submit their expenses all at once, at the end of the month?
- What role do you hold in the organization? (ie. Controller in the finance team)
Even if a lot of this information is already noted inside your CRM, it will help you mentally prepare for the demo if you write it to paper. Using this situational information to confirm your previous conversation will help you avoid spending valuable demo time on surface issues, so you can quickly dive into 2nd order questions and deeper needs assessment.
The In-Demo Playbook
Knowing exactly what to pitch when, while also learning a new product and closing fundamentals can be downright overwhelming as a new rep. It’s easier to progress in series vs. parallel, so let this part of the worksheet guide you in the “when” and “what” department as you work these conditions into muscle memory.
I’ve used a slice of the general Abacus demo process for an example, you’ll want to customize this to your company specifics.
(download an editable version of this SaaS demo worksheet)
This section of the worksheet also serves as your compass – the “YOU ARE HERE” arrow at any given moment. As a result of not having to find your place, you’ll also find yourself punctuating with selling points at natural breaks in conversation and transition points, instead of adding them in awkwardly and sporadically.
Demo Resolution Notes
Before every demo ends, closers should gather two pieces of information from the prospect to maximize the probability of a sale and to improve their next demo:
- What are your first impressions of the product?
- (If positive) is there anything preventing you from giving it a try?
- (If negative) we really value customer feedback, can you help me understand your ideal solution so I can share your concerns with the product team?
For the most honest answers, make sure to give the prospect a chance to answer by pausing completely after asking a question.
Post Demo Assessment
Measuring and assessing game tape from Day 1 is what separates the fastest growing closers from those that stagnate. When you’re finished, ask yourself, what did I do well? What question made me sweat and stammer? What feature do I clearly need to google or ask my manager about? What feature did they absolutely LOVE? What made them uneasy? What made them curious? Taking note of these items and then rehearsing before your next demo will get you acclimated faster.
Get Your Team Cranking
Make no mistake, my very first worksheet intentionally limited me to an overly formal, ordered pitch that was very “spray and pray” as far as features go, but the spirit of the worksheet is to inch your baseline higher and squeeze the most education out of each and every demo. The nuance and instincts of closing will come with time as new closers try everything and figure out what sticks and what flops.
Use this general structure and the aforementioned sections as building blocks, and get self assessment in front of your new closers as soon as possible. 100 demos later, you’ll find that they’ve internalized the cadence of a typical demo, more naturally feel the pulse of buyer, need to use the guide less and less in their race to sales mastery.