Three Different Ways to Demo a SaaS Product

Sales demos work wonders in sales-led GTM. We examine three ways to execute a demo: in a face-to-face or online meeting, through a prerecorded video, or via an interactive demo platform.

Three Different Ways to Demo a SaaS Product

When working within a sales-led GTM motion, sales demos are an extremely powerful tool for converting prospects to customers. There are many reasons why sales demos fit nicely within a sales-driven model. This article examines two types of demonstrations: a product demo and a sales demo. We also discuss three ways to execute the demo: in a face-to-face or online meeting, through a prerecorded video, or via an interactive demo platform.

Product Demo vs Sales Demo

A product demo is for existing customers of a SaaS company. During a product demo, a customer success manager presents new or existing features, showcases product updates, or educates users on advanced functionalities. A product demo aims to increase product usage, ensure customers gain the promised benefits of the product, and increase customer retention. The product demo can also be part of user training during onboarding or if a recap is required.

On the other hand, a sales demo consists of showing the product, its features, functionalities, and, most importantly, its benefits. The primary purpose of a product demo is to give prospects a clear understanding of how the product works, how it would solve their problems, and how it would meet defined needs.

A demonstration is a sales demo when you, in a sales role, are working to win a qualified sales opportunity. It involves showcasing the product and its functionality, features, and benefits to explain how it addresses the prospect's pain points.

A sales demo and a product demo can be very similar in content. A company representative goes through the features of a product and showcases them. However, the demo context is very different, and so usually are the dynamics between the attendees. In a product demo, a customer success manager leads the demo for the customer’s operational team, focusing on the product's features and how they are used. In a sales demo, a sales executive usually has the helm, focusing on why and how features are essential for the decision-makers who might never use the product themselves.

Different Ways to Demo

Meeting Face-to-Face or via Online Meeting

Showcasing the product in person or on a video call could be considered the most “traditional” method of demoing. The concept is the same whether the sales representative or customer success manager visits in person or if the meeting is over Teams, Zoom, or Hangouts. There is a scheduled meeting where one agenda point is to demonstrate the product.

The demo gets most, if not all, of the audience's attention.

The plus side of demo meetings like this is that all the participants attend simultaneously, and all questions can be addressed in real-time. In addition, especially when meeting face-to-face, the meeting provides a lot of non-verbal clues of how well the message is getting across. An added big plus is that the demo receives the majority, if not all, of the audience's attention by meeting like this. So the engagement should be high! The downside is that some calendar bingo needs to be handled for all to meet like this.

An excellent sales demo requires the salesperson to prepare well, learn prospects' problems and challenges, personalise and even customise the sales demo to solve those problems and follow up with a relevant message. Running such a great sales demo is no easy feat!

Prerecorded Video Demo

A prerecorded demo is a video of someone (account executive, customer success manager, marketer…, etc.) performing a product walkthrough, usually with a voice-over. These videos can be general and possibly even freely available on a company website or super personalised for one specific customer, for example, following an in-person sales meeting.

With video demos, we should look at a few different use cases. One can have:

  • A long and comprehensive demo (+15min) that is readily available for all. No personalisation.
  • A long and comprehensive demo (+15min) that is personalised to a particular company, decision-making unit or individual.
  • A short and point-on demo that showcases a feature or two. Generally available for all.
  • A short and point-on demo that is personalised to a particular company, decision-making unit or individual.

These videos work very differently and serve different parts of the sales or onboarding process. The first one can be good for lead generation (high-level sales demo) or product training (a detailed product demo). Still, it rarely leads to instant conversion or replaces a proper sales demo when the product is as complex. Instead, the personalised variation of a long video can be enough to get a green light from higher-ups in the buying organisation and thus accelerate the sales process. Success like this presumes an ongoing quality sales conversation laying the groundwork for the decision.

The best thing about demo recordings is that they are available on demand.

Short videos can also act as promotional or educational material. Generic videos presenting individual features can be placed on training materials, “how-to” guides, sales emails, RFP submissions, and blog posts. Short and easy-to-digest videos do not require a lot of commitment to watch. Short demo recordings, done by a salesperson and personalised for the audience, highlight brilliantly how prospects' pain points are solved.

The best thing about demo recordings is that they are available on demand. They are readily available for the prospect to consume at their leisure. Decision makers and executives are busy, and giving them a chance to check and recap when they choose is a step towards making a deal happen!

Interactive demos

Interactive demos are relatively new to the world of sales. They are positioned somewhere between an actual demo and a product trial.

An interactive demo offers prospects a hands-on experience to test some product functionalities within a limited sandbox environment. The prospect gets a hands-on experience without going in for a full trial. Interactive demos are leaning towards sales focus and supplement actual sales demos. As the concept gains more momentum, use cases to complement product demos will probably gain momentum, too.

The prospect gets a hands-on experience without going in for a full trial.

Interactive demos share the same benefits as videos. They are an asynchronous, personalised way to demonstrate a product with a reasonably low barrier to entry.

If you are new to interactive demos, check Walnut or Reprise for more details.

Select The Right Demo for the Right Occasion

It is crucial to select the right demoing method for each situation. As always, this is somewhat product—and sales process-dependent, but here are some questions to consider (these work regardless of whether you want to demo a feature or a full product).

  • How much time do you need to demo the important aspects?
  • Do you need/want to discuss with prospects while demoing?
  • How committed is the other party to spend time on this?

After answering the questions, use the chart below to select the right way forward.

A chart helping to map out how to demo a product or a feature.
Asking a busy executive to spend time and focus on a demo can be tricky. If more time is required, one should make that time engaging. For example, a long meeting with a good discussion works better than a long video watched alone.

Mix and Match for the Win

The best prospect experience is provided when different ways to demonstrate are combined, ideally so that prospects' situations and personalities are considered. In sales-led GTM, there are multiple touchpoints in each opportunity, offering the possibility to mix and match different sales demos in one opportunity. The best sales representatives combine synchronous (time together) and asynchronous (everyone at their own) methods for building pipelines, conducting sales demos, and winning opportunities.