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Five Steps to a Great Software Demo

Peter Customer Service 11 Aug 2016


At RotaCloud, online demos are crucial to our on-boarding process. Many potential clients would be put off by a piece of software if they didn't have the option of a demo.

This means that your demo can often be the reason for a client to sign up (or not) for your software, so it's important that you get it right.

1. Find the right tools

The right tools can make or break a demo. If you need screen sharing software, we recommend join.me. It doesn't need any sign-up or software on the client's part (it runs in their web browser), so it reduces the set-up time to a couple of minutes.

In terms of scheduling, we use Calendly. It's a simple way of allowing the customer to select a time that suits them, and integrates with Google Calendar to show them when you're available.

We don't have anything special in terms of calling - we run a simple VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system - but you can use anything you like. Skype and Google Hangouts are popular, but there are loads more options - and there's always a good old-fashioned phone call!

2. Know your stuff

Obviously you know how the software works, but you also need to know about the client. I always make sure I find out a few things before picking up the phone (these are tailored for a RotaCloud demo, but can apply to many SaaS demos):

  1. Their name, and the name of the company they work for.
  2. The number of employees in the company, and the respective pricing plan.
  3. Their industry/field of work.
  4. The current state of their RotaCloud account, if they have one.
  5. Their trial expiration date if applicable.

You can find a lot of this out using Calendly, which allows you to ask the client a few questions as part of the booking process.

Finding out this stuff beforehand lets you get on with the demo as quickly as possible, and saves the client from giving you information more than once.

3. Set the scene

Context is important when delivering demos. The stuff you find out in step two you can find out without speaking to the client, but you do need to ask a few questions at the start of the call. Here's what I ask:

  1. How are you currently managing your rotas, and why did you sign up to RotaCloud?
  2. How much have you played around with the system? What have you tried?
  3. Do you have any specific questions, or should I just take you through each feature one by one?

These questions give you an idea of exactly how they would use our system, and gives me a 'level of knowledge' context, from which I can set my level of detail. It also puts the client in control: they get to say what they want to know.

Speaking of which, I always tell the client that they are free to interrupt me at any time if they have a question, or if they need me to clarify something.

4. Sell the product

At the demo stage, you're still trying to win the client's business. A good online demo is much more of a sales pitch than a training session (we actually offer separate training sessions, which fundamentally differ in nature to our demos).

As such, you should aim to show the client what the system does, but don't necessarily show them how to use it. Remember: they're trying to decide whether the system is right for them, so they're more interested in features than tutorials.

You should also ask the client if they're interested in certain features. We have advanced functionality and extra packages which clients can use if they like, but clients often already have solutions for those things, so they aren't interested in our version.

If that's the case, don't demo it - it's a waste of time. Instead, just let them know that you have those features available if they ever decide to use them in the future.

5. Close

Once I'm confident that I've shown the client everything they wanted to see, I ask how they felt about the software, and whether they think they would find it useful.

If they say they would, I break down their pricing plan. This saves them from having to research it themselves, so they are more likely to sign up. I also tell them how long their trial has left, and explain the terms of the trial.

This last bit of the conversation takes you one step closer to closing that sale. When you are providing a free trial, it's unfair to expect them to sign up for the system halfway through -but setting their sights on what happens after their trial will give them chance to consider it early on.

After that, their experience using the software contributes directly to closing the sale, since signing up is in the back of their mind the whole time.

Final thoughts

Although demos are sales opportunities for us, we don't oversell or exaggerate in order to win custom. We tailor our demos to the individual and are open and honest about the abilities of the system - and its pricing.

If the software isn't right for the client and you don't have the resources to commit to make the necessary changes, no amount of persuasion will change that fact.

Want to see a RotaCloud demo in action? Message us to arrange it!