The Five Forces Driving Down Your Sales Demo Quality

by Matan Mostov
August 19, 2023
Demo Best Practices
Demo Skills
Sales Management
Discovery Best Practices
Sales Effectiveness
Sales Enablement Best Practices
Sales Performance
Sales Productivity
Sales Execution

The vast majority of B2B SaaS Demos are not helping sales. In many cases, they are counterproductive and waste the time of the prospect and the seller and damage the buyer's perception of the product and company. Our research has uncovered the five forces behind why so many live sales demos fail.

The Five Forces Driving Down Your Sales Demo Quality

SaaS companies invest significant time and effort in fundraising, R&D, hiring, marketing, product, and business development to achieve a market fit, gain customers, and grow revenue. 

The demo is often the primary motivation for our prospects to engage with sellers. According to Gartner, 50% of buyers surveyed cite demos as the most valuable materials during the buying cycle. More than 80% of B2B SaaS websites have “Get a Demo” or similar as the most prominent Call to Action. In our survey of over 300+ sellers and sales leaders, 92% noted the demo as the most impactful tool they have to influence sales outcomes and show value. 

Sales Discovery is necessary to understand your prospect's current state and challenges. When you conduct a good sales discovery, you become aware of what problems need solving for your customer. Sales Discovery is required to qualify whether engaging in the sales process is a worthwhile exercise for the seller.

The vast majority of B2B SaaS Demos are not helping sales. In many cases, they are counterproductive and waste the time of the prospect and the seller and damage the buyer's perception of the product and company. 

Our research has uncovered the five forces behind why so many live sales demos fail. 

  1. The Cognitive Load 
  2. Forgetting Curve 
  3. Pre-sales Bottleneck
  4. Technology
  5. Tenure Mastery Ratio

Force 1: The Cognitive Load of the Sales Demo

The SaaS Sales role is complex and filled with competing priorities, distractions, and pressures. Sellers need to juggle many non-customer facing activities, including internal meetings, training, 1:1’s, forecasts, CRM updates, annual and quarterly plans, supporting new hires, internal selling, SKO, and Club. Research shows that sellers spend less than 35% of their time on selling activities. Sales Discovery and Live Demos are the most complex and critical customer-facing activities in B2B SaaS sales.

A winning live Sales Demo requires that sellers have the product knowledge and focus on value, not features. They need to remember discovery, the talk track and click path while engaging with the customer, storytelling, objection handling, and staying on time. 

At Demoleap, we call this the “Cognitive Load of the live demo.” Combined with the stress of public speaking, this cognitive load often exposes our precious prospects to dreaded demo behaviors, including:

  • The Show-up and Throw-up
  • The Spray and Pray
  • The Feature Dump
  • The Harbor Tour 

Live demos are difficult to master, with most sellers never achieving demo competence, and they do not have time to practice and refine these skills.

We have built Demoleap to help sellers beat the cognitive load and improve the live demo experience for both the buyer and seller. 

Force 2: The Forgetting Curve 

The Forgetting Curve is a well-researched memory model, and it shows how learned information slips out of our memories over time.

In the demo training context, the forgetting curve identifies that sellers will forget an average of 65% of what they have learned within the first seven days following training.

According to the Harvard business review in Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development

“The forgetting curve emphasizes that learning goes in one ear and out without immediate and ongoing reinforcement.” 

  • “The ROI of sales training is disappointing. Studies indicate that participants in traditional curriculum-based training forget more than 75% percent of the information they were taught within six days.
  • HBR says that to” increase retention and effectiveness, we must provide sellers supplemental material that reinforces what they’ve already been taught and allow sellers opportunities to practice their skills in time frames connected to actual buying processes.”
  • “They can do so by using  technologies that are “disrupting” their customer-contact activities, and retention increases to 65%.”
The Seller's Forgetting Curve

Demoleap is the reinforcement engine turning enablement sessions into seller actions at scale. Demoleap allows sellers to access your knowledge and follow demo best practices in the moment while running sales discovery and live demos.

Force 3: Pre-sales

SaaS companies scale, sales teams expand, and new features are released — and demo complexity can increase. SaaS sales organizations have traditionally relied on inadequate, one-off demo training or investing in pre-sales teams to run demos. As pre-sales teams grow, sellers start to rely on the resources, and companies soon find they have too few people who can deliver winning sales demos, creating frustration and delayed demos to potential clients. This pre-sales Bottleneck gives the advantage to smaller, more agile competitors who can show value and gain market share. 

Research shows using technical sellers to sell to business stakeholders is lousy practice and creates an impression of complexity in your product. If a technical expert is needed, the audience must be technical; otherwise, it gives the wrong impression to the buyer. Pre-sales are not a solution to drive better sales Demos at scale.

With Demoleap, pre-sales can focus on High Value or Technical Processes, while everyone in the GTM can efficiently run compelling demos quickly.

Force 4: Technology 

Today's sales stack tools generally fit into forecasting or retrospective measurement categories. There are no solutions that allow companies to impact what is happening “at the moment” as sellers run live discovery and demo sessions.

Since the emergence of B2B  SaaS in the 1990s, sales teams have been running remote sales demos, and the approach has remained unchanged. Companies rely 100% on the seller's memory, ability, and skill to run a successful demo.  

This is now changing. Gartner notes, “By 2025, 75% of B2B sales organizations will replace traditional sales playbooks with AI-based guided selling solutions.” 

Demoleap is the first real-time guide helping sellers execute winning processes. With Demoleap, companies can measure and control what happens between sellers and customers in these traditionally hidden processes. 

Force 5: Tenure: Mastery Ratio

Hubspot research shows that the average Sales Rep Tenure in SaaS is approximately 18 months, with the recent “Great Resignation” getting shorter. Research from Xactly Insights data shows that sales reps hit their peak performance between two and three years. 

SaaS sales organizations are hiring sellers earlier in their careers, and in many cases, they leave sooner. Sellers are leaving their roles before mastering the most vital skills or hitting sales productivity.  

With Demoleap, we help Sellers onboard quickly and start running great processes faster than ever, improving win rates and ensuring positive value-based conversations with your precious prospects and customers.

Curious about how Demoleap can improve your demo process? Schedule your demo today.

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