What if there were no more live demos?

Episode Description

Sure, a controversial stance but actually the facts and changes stack up to the significant shift in what presales meetings are for, and the way that buyers consume content. Don says it’s only history and the legacy of how we’ve sold that has trapped us into assuming live demos are the best way to serve buyers. An advisory, consultative workshop is going to be far more beneficial.

Podcast Transcription

Mark: Welcome back to another episode of “Burning Presales” podcast where I am very, very happy to welcome to the room, the virtual Zoom room, it’s Don Carmichael. Welcome, Don. Great to have you.

Don: Thank you so much. Yeah. I haven’t been on one of these in a very, very long time. So, thank you so much for the invite. There’s some brilliant people that you’re getting on the “Burning Presales” series. It’s amazing. Fantastic learning opportunity.

Mark: That’s very kind. Yeah, Series 2 and we’re [00:00:30.431] firing our way through some amazing people in the industry. And you have been an amazing person in the industry and seen a bunch of changes. But there is a particular change that you see happening now. Why don’t you tell people about that?

Don: Well, yeah. So, one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently, and I’m gonna explore a little more, hopefully, when we get to DEMOFEST, we’ll explore this a little bit more. Mark’s giving it that. This is going to sound [00:01:00.792] controversial, and I know you can’t throw fruit at me or whatever, but you can throw virtual fruit to me for saying this, is I’m starting to wonder whether we actually need, kind of, live demos anymore. Now, let me get some context behind this, because some of you are going to go, “Not doing them any way.” And then other people will go, “No way.” And I know companies like, let’s say, ServiceNow, who will be horrified that I just said that. But please, kind of, you know, let me… [00:01:30.775] I’ve got a few things that will help me, kind of, navigate towards why I’m thinking that.

So, for the context, yes, product-led growth, and then there’s this new thing, product-led sales, is essentially self-service stuff. There was never really, or never supposed to be any live demos in that, kind of, buying journey. You know, it was all content that was, kind of, self-consumed. And now, in these days, we’ve got new types of content, it doesn’t have to be a video, is that you can actually try things out. [00:02:00.753] So, Consensus have got tours, and a new version of it that they’ve just launched, which is brewing. And there are other products out there that do, kind of, screen scraping and make a hands-on experience, kind of, pretty bomb-proof, takes you on a story, all that kind of thing. So, that’s, kind of, one end of things. And then we had the other end of things, which is, “Well, it all has to be live,” you know. It’s, “This is high-end enterprise stuff.” What is it? They call it the white-glove experience, you know. It always has to be live. [00:02:30.713]

Now, my argument with this is we’re, kind of, moving in…we’re in this kind of buyer enablement world, and hopefully, everybody now, you know, hopefully, [inaudible 00:02:38.684] about the idea that in buyer enablement, you know, a lot more has to become video because a lot more of it has to be self-service, a lot more of it is about the buyer’s behavior who wants to research things well ahead of the point where they put their hand up and say, “Now you can sell to me,” which is essentially this two-thirds of the way through the buying process, where, you know, our sales [00:03:00.724] process begins. So, you know, there’s always a challenge, and always will be, about how you create content that fits into that first two-thirds. But also, the buyers have got used to consuming that kind of content, videos, you know, self-service, demos, that kind of thing. Why shouldn’t that fit into the rest of the process?

So, if we go back to something that Consensus have talked about for a long while about the idea, there are six types of demo. Now, five of them [00:03:30.732] could always be, straight away, you could say they could always be in video, you know, no problem them being in video, but there was always one, which was this, kind of, the idea of a closing demo, the technical demo, and we said, “Well, that always has to be live.” Now, there’s a history to this, which is, so in big enterprise sales, the idea was, you, kind of, do discovery, there’s all these kind of services that pre-sales people would do, and the sales team would do. And the aim would be to get all the big decision makers in a room. [00:04:00.991] And you do this, kind of, closing demo, and it’s live and we show you, you know, “This is our differentiators. This is why you’re going to buy it.” You know, it’s not features and functions anymore. We really are drilling into, “This is what we’ve discovered. This is what’s going to create the outcomes and the value that you’re going to make your decision on.” And that was always great.

But even before we got to, kind of, COVID and lockdown, you know, there was a problem that, well, kind of, people on Zoom or on virtual meetings, not everybody is, kind of, there. And the other thing we’ve learned [00:04:30.647] with buyer enablement is, well, who are all these buyers? And I would argue that in a lot of cases, if you’re still doing this, kind of, closing demo, how many of the actual stakeholders do you think you’ve actually got in front of you are on the Zoom call? I mean, it’s quite possible you’ve only got maybe half of them. So, this historical idea that you’ve got this, kind of, big live closing demo where, you know, you appeal to everyone’s, you know, their sense of what their personal value proposition is, [00:05:00.824] and you close everything down, well, surely, that’s impossible now because you can’t possibly, in one live, you know, Zoom or physical event, appeal to, or contact, or convince all of the different stakeholders.

So, my point with this is, I think we’re going to have to move to a stage where it’s not that you don’t have a live call, you know, you don’t give the buyers opportunities to ask questions in a live context, you know, to share that information, [00:05:30.389] to talk about it. It’s just that, why do you have to have a demo then? If they’ve already got used to consuming demonstrations, even personalized ones, you know, via video so that they can share it, so they can…you know, the famous thing that we’re finding out, you know, recently, that people are consuming some of these demos on Sunday evenings. You know, you would think people would work, kind of, 9:00 to 5:00. And yes, some cultures, you know, Sunday is a working day, you know, but there’s a lot of evidence that the idea of a working week is, kind of, filtering [00:06:00.629] all over the place.

So, my argument is I think we need to start thinking about, you know, I think it’s history and, kind of, legacy of how we’ve sold that’s trapped us into the idea that there’s this, kind of, closing live demo thing. I think, as we move into the future, I don’t think it’s going to be a demo. I think it’s going to be somewhat an advisory session, a consulting session, you know, a session where people can bring, you know, questions they’ve got, you know. And we can still close them down, but you don’t have to show any product [00:06:30.607] anymore because the buyers have got used to, you know, consuming it themselves.

Now, that’s going to be a bit challenging for some companies. But I think the challenge has got more to do with how you think about how you sell, and I think buyer enablement and the idea that you should think from, what does the buyer actually want? And certainly this idea that, you know, you’re not going to reach…in any single live session, you will not reach all of the decision makers, especially [00:07:00.317] in more complex sales. You know, there are many more stakeholders that you can’t reach on your own. That’s the power of, you know, shared videos and creating, kind of, discovery, value propositions that are portable and can be taken by, you know, your champion within the buyer, and, kind of, communicated around a business, “This is why we’re going to buy this solution.” So, yeah, so what do you think of that? I know that’s a long discourse there. Have I, kind of, built enough arguments for why [00:07:30.389] there might not be live demos in the future?

Mark: Yes. Well, I think you’ve created a huge amount of pause for thought for many, many people, because you’re right. I think the way that people are buying is changing. And the understanding of the activities that each buyer needs to do and can do that’s in a self-service way, whilst certainly not to the detriment of their process, perhaps even to the benefit of it, I think is massively impactful. And, [00:08:00.111] Don, as a perfect snippet of reasoning, it’s just a pleasure to have you on the podcast. And I am really looking forward to having you back again very soon. So, thank you very much, Don. Any last words about that?

Don: Well, again, don’t mistake this. I’m, kind of, going, “Oh, yeah, we’ve had all that for ages. It’s called product-led growth.” I’m talking about top-end enterprise stuff where, you know, historically, that is even a step [00:08:30.666] in your CRM system, have we had the live closing demo? And just think about the buyers and your access to them and whether that’s an effective thing to do with any live time you have with people, with your buyers.

Mark: Amazing. Amazing. Such a fan, such a champion of everything that you do, Don. Super pleasure to have you on, and look forward to having you back on “Burning Presales” podcast very soon. Thanks very much.

Don: Thank you.

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