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How do a B2B Software Demo

Introduction

So, why should you read this article? 

Before I Wrote This, I Took a Surf Around the Web Looking for How To Demo Articles.

I was looking for specific advice on doing product demos to industrial clients, with the specific purpose of selling high-ticket B2B software (or software controlled products and instruments).

As a result of my hunt for demo articles on the web, I found that most had the same three issues:

1) They Were Not Specific to B2B SalesWhile there is a fair amount of information on doing demos for consumers (B2C), I found a dearth of information on business-to-business (B2B) technology demos.
For example, an iPAD demo is clearly for a consumer audience, ditto for showing off the latest version of Windows.

2) They Were Not About On-site Company DemosThe articles that were B2B specific often focused on demoing for large audiences and events. For example, the DEMO Conference which is focused on giving a six-minute demo to introduce/launch a new product to a large audience; not very relevant to on-site B2B technology demos.

3) They Were Bad Advice for a Sales Situation – I had to flat out disagree with some of the advice that was given, such as: Don’t allow questions during your demo! Yikes!

This post is offered up as specific advice for doing on-site B2B demos of complex technology products.

If You Don’t Sell Complex Software to Technical End Users and Managers Stop Reading

Let me be clear about the type of demo I’m talking about; for the sake of this discussion we’re talking about a business-to-business (B2B) software or software controlled product demo.

This demo is done on-site, for a team (2 to 25 people) at a company with a specific need for your type of solution.

 

The Demo in a Complex Sale

This type of demo is one phase in the sales process of a so-called complex sale where you’re typically dealing with multiple contacts on the client side.

Some of these people will make the buy decision (Management), some will influence it (Techies), and some will have no effect at all on the outcome (Dilberts? or Miltons?). Additional aspects of the complex sale are:

  • The dollar value for a complex sale is often large.
  • The decision process can take anywhere from a few months to many months or more.
  • The product is typically complex in nature. (Selling this type of product requires that you understand how the product/technology can help your prospect solve critical business issues that they need to solve, and/or to realize a vision that improves their results.)
  • One or more visits with the client are required to close the sale.
  • The Selling is typically done by a sales team comprised of a Sales Person and a Sales Engineer (AKA an FAE)

How to Create and Deliver an Effective B2B Product Demo

I have been selling and demoing technology products (and training others on how to do it) for a long time. Many of the large sales that I or my sales team have made, have included and on-site demo.
This section outlines the procedure for creating and delivering a winning demo.

The Goal of the Demo

The goal of a demo should always be to move the sale forward in the sales process.
All prospects are in search of one or both of the following things when they go looking for new products:

  • A solution to a problem
  • A path to achieving their vision

In a typical B2B sale, senior management has the vision and is aware of the problems. Technical end users and line managers are responsible for the realization of the vision or the resolution of the problems identified by management.
To move the sale forward you need to:

  • Understand their specific critical business needs (visions and problems)
  • Be sure that they are motivated to achieve the vision or to solve the problem using a solution like yours
  • Be sure that they have the budget to purchase your type of solution
  • Show them, in terms they understand; using examples specific to their world, how they can solve their problems and enjoy the ROI of using your solution.
  • Engender trust and gain credibility so that you become the trusted and preferred vendor.

The Winning Demo Method

Now, lets take a look at how we would prepare and deliver a demonstration using the step-by-step method that I teach in my demo skills training classes.
Use a Demo Creation Worksheet to capture all critical aspects of the demo such as:

  • Who are the decision makers
  • What are their key business issues and visions
  • What is the impact or implication of these issues on their business: what happens if they don’t address them.
  • Who is the competition, what are the issues
  • What are they doing now, what do they want to change. To keep?
  • What do you want them to remember
  • Which customer success stories are relevant to them?
  • Map benefits of your solution (success stories) to their specific needs and visions.
  • Create the shortest, most compelling and customer relevant demo sequence possible

Outline for a Winning Demo:

Open:
Answer the questions they have in their head

  • Tell them what you will cover
  • Tell them Why it matters to them
  • Tell them it’s their demo: encourage questions

Most important Message First

Solution to problem or realization of a vision

  • Use a time compressed scenario format, based on a success story
  • Be ruthless, only show the detail that sells

Close:

  • Summarize the value
  • Ask about the next step in the process

Credibility Tips

As you deliver the demo, you need to be sure to gain credibility with your audience. Here are a few tips:

  • Know your stuff – If you can’t answer around 80% of the questions asked, you don’t know your stuff well enough.
  • Gain facility with industry tools. Practice sequences until you are fast and impressive. This goes a long way with customers as they can see that you have spent some time in the trenches.
  • Anticipate questions, have great answers.
  • Do some product support. This will give you insight into real world issues faced by your customers.

Learn More About Our Demonstration Skills Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. Give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form

Getting Results from Trade Show Demonstrations

Ever done a trade show and wished that you and your team had uncovered more hot prospects, set up more post-show appointments and done more effective demos?
If this sounds familiar, you’ll want to read this step-by-step guide to trade show success through better demos.

Qualify prospects

Trade show demos are a perfect time to learn about your prospects; booth visitors expect questions, so don’t miss this important opportunity. Here are the key steps to qualification during a trade show demo:

1) Look before you leap – Never just jump into your standard demo; ask background questions like:

  • How are they doing things today?
  • What do they like and dislike about the product they’re using, what would they change?
  • Why are they at the show, what are their goals relative to your type of product?

2) Relate to their needs – Based on their answers, give examples of how your solution has helped others like them. Ask which areas are most important to them.

3) Drill down for detail – When a prospect asks a question, use it as a springboard to ask more questions and expose the big picture.

Disqualify poor leads

Nothing’s worse than doing post-show follow up on a so-called “hot” trade show lead only to find that it’s a dud. Demos are a great way to weed out the clunkers–here’s how:

1) Avoid misunderstandings – Pay attention and ask questions. Prospects may have misconceptions about your product; the quicker you find out, the better it is for both of you.
As you demo, check in with the prospect with phrases like: “Does that make sense?” or “Is that similar to how you do it today?”.
Watch their face; if they look confused ask if they have a question.

2) Verify urgency and need – Ask questions to see how urgent their need is.

  • How are you doing this now?
  • Are you looking at getting equipment like this?
  • What would happen if you don’t make a change?

If they say they are in the market, is it an immediate need or longer term?

3) Be sure they are decision makers – Ask questions to see how well they understand the decision process. If a prospect can’t answer basic process questions, it’s either early days or they’re not part of the process. Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • Who is on the decision team?
  • Will they be doing evaluations?
  • What are the key criteria they are interested in?

Close for post show demos, evaluations or meetings

If you find a hot one, close for the next step NOW–before they get back to their hectic world and get too busy to return your call.
Here are some example closes:
“It looks like we are a good fit for your application, what would be a good next step? We will be in your area next week and can do an on-site demo for the rest of the team and set you up and evaluation. Would that work for you?”
“It looks like an evaluation would be the next step. Why don’t I quickly get that set up for you now?”
Make sure you have a solid next step, even if it is only a commitment from them to take a phone call on a specified date and time. Trust me, if you don’t close now it will be much harder to reach them when they get back to the office.

Do more effective, compelling demos

If you and your team would like to improve your trade show demo skills, check out our demo skills class or contact us. We will customize the training to your exact needs and can often combine training with in-booth coaching sessions at one of your upcoming trade shows. This let’s students master the skills from class and become productive right away.

Learn More About Our  Training

We can create custom training for you and your team. It starts with a no hassle conversation about your unique needs. If it makes sense, we will create custom training  that meets your time and budget requirements. To learn more, please give us a call (1-800-421-5824) or click below and fill out the contact form 

What Sales Teams Must Know about Technology Demonstrations

Technology Sales Teams are typically comprised of a sales rep and a sales engineer.

This so called, “4-legged” model can be very effective since it lets the team cover the technical and business aspects of the sales process. For team selling to work in the technology marketplace, teamwork becomes a paramount concern. Here are several tips that I cover in my demo training workshops that can make or break a sale:

Pre-Demo work is the foundation for a great demo

If brevity is the soul of wit, then knowing your audience is the key to an effective presentation. By the time you do a demo, much of the sales process has occurred. As you research the prospects needs for the demo focus on:

  • Understanding their issues and how you can help them
  • How similar customers have been successful with your products
  • Who wants to see what and who has the power

All pre-demo research should be focused on these topics. If you have to guess if the prospect is interested in something, you are very likely to create objections or at least to bore them with unnecessary detail. Be sure to involve the sales engineer in all aspects of the process to be sure that they have what they need as well.

A short, customer-relevant sales presentation is mandatory

Step away from the corporate slideware should be the mantra of every sales person as they prepare the pre-demo presentation. The prospect only wants you to do the following, and NOTHING else–they are here for the demo:

  • Recap what their issues are and how the demo will show that you have the solution
  • Verify the agenda and the time frame; revise as necessary.
  • Introduce the sales engineer
  • Sit down and take notes

The product demonstration must focus on business issues

Sales should actively coach the sales engineer, and help them build a demo that shows your product as a solution to the prospects needs; brevity is critical.

Like the author Elmore Lenard said about why his writing worked: “I Cut out the parts that people will skip”. To make your demo story interesting, encourage your sales engineer to cut anything that is unnecessary from their demo.

Sales must help out in time of crisis

Demos are risky, especially when beta hardware or software is involved. Work out a signal to let sales know that the “bad” thing has happened so that they can run interference. Sales can interject and get the attention of the audience while the sales engineer attempts to recover. I have suddenly “remembered” a bag of Oreos that I “forgot” to put out and used them to attract attention at a critical moment.

Never talk out of turn

Sales and sales engineering should know who will cover what topics. Sales will cover price and licensing, sales engineering will do the technical bits. Don’t step on each others toes. And sales, if you ask for the sales engineer to show something, be SURE to ask them if they can do it before you get in front of the audience.

Have a demo horror story or a tip on how to make things run smoothly? Please share it in the comments section.


Software Demos 4 Tips for Improvement

Get some toothpicks for your eyes and a case of Red Bull, were gonna do a software demo!

Software demos are the cornerstone of technology sales. Here’s 4 tips to make your next software demo better:

Short Software Demos are Best

Our demos are too long. That’s probably the most common issue about that I hear about when I do Software Demo Training Classes. The reasons it’s so prevalent are:

  • We hate to leave any of the best features out, even if the prospect might not care
  • We like to show things a couple of ways to prove how flexible the product is
  • We’re used to doing product training where we show every single menu
  • Our product is very technical–we have ton of detail to cover
  • We have a big product stack (lots of different products) so it takes a while

Let’s take each of these in turn and discuss how we can do better.

The most important thing you can do to shorten your demo

If you’re having issues with long demos, the most important thing you can do is to spend more time understanding the prospects specific needs.

Talk to your sales person. Have the prospect complete a demo form outlining what they want to see. Once you understand their needs it’s easy to decide what to cover and what NOT to cover!

I hate to leave any important feature out of the demo

Engineering worked hard to put these features in, you may have even been the one who requested some of them. I get that, but here’s where it can hurt you.

You’re showing things your prospect isn’t interested in. That means:

  1. They will get bored.
  2. They may see something that turns them off on the product!
  3. The extra detail we show will make the product look complex and hard to use

Next time you do a demo, try to get more detail from sales on what they want to see and what they don’t–only show that. You may be surprised at how much smoother things go.

I want to show how flexible the product is

Showing things multiple ways is fine for training, but it’s a disaster for demos. Next demo, pick the best way to do something and only show that. I’m not saying you can’t show off some GUI bells and whistles; just pick the slickest looking path and weave it naturally into your demo.

We are used to doing product training

When technical support or the training group are asked to to demos, too much detail is a very common problem. Support people have little or no training in sales, and as such don’t know what to show. Without guidance they tend to show everything. Worse, yet, they may know the screens and menus very well, but they often lack the big picture understanding needed to relate the product to the prospects real business issues.

To help people with no sales experience do better demos, you need to be explicit about what they should show for each prospect. You may even want to script out what you want them to do and say. In time, many will be able to better demos with less input from you.

Our product is very technical

This is often a byproduct of poor qualification of the prospect’s needs. Technical product are complex, but the business problems they solve are less so. If you can understand exactly what the prospect wants to see and what they don’t care about, you can drop tons of unnecessary detail.

For you next demo, start with a short succinct list from your sales person, then focus on creating a demo path (a story) that shows how the business problem is solved. Make this path as short as possible while maintaining the integrity of the demo story.

We have a big product stack

This issue is common in larger organizations that have done lots of company acquisitions to build out a more complete solution for their customers. I’ve seen situations where the sales engineer (or a team of sales engineers) is expected to show the end-to-end solution for 10 or more products!

Multiple product demos are a burden for prospects interested in only a portion of your solution. No one wants to sit through the entire show if they don’t need what is being covered. In these situations, it’s crucial that you focus on your prospects specific needs and show as little as possible in the best way possible.

Use the right approach for the medium

Modern demos can be live, web based, and even canned (down-loadable, CD based, etc…). Each mode has unique advantages and disadvantages, be aware of them.

Web demos, are less interactive and you often can’t tell if the audience is with you or not. There are several ways to fight this:

  • Have a sales person on-site with the customer to act as your eyes and ears. They can help keep the audience engaged and let you know when you need to change course to keep them interested.
  • Take advantage of the polling and online question features provided in web demo software.
  • Ask questions and allow the audience to respond.

Live on-site demos allow you to use physical props and to easily see the audiences reaction to you talk. You can also keep things interesting by going to the chalk board or even letting the customer try your gear (if this is a safe thing to do).

The down side of a face-to-face demo is that if something goes wrong, all eyes are on you. You can’t surreptitiously bring up another version of the app in the background as you can in a web demo. Next demo, be mindful of these subtleties and you will fare much better.

Encourage questions

If you are doing a sales demo for a single company, you have to allow questions–period.

It’s their show–you have to give them what they need. If you don’t they won’t do business with you. If there are dangerous questions or audience members who are hostile to you cause, be prepared to deal with it.

If you are doing a demo for multiple parties and companies, I would still say that you must allow questions, just be prepared to redirect or to ask to take the question off line if they try to take you too far afield.

Pay attention to things that elicit questions in your demos, incorporate them into your standard demo and be sure to develop a killer answers for each question. Questions are the key to audience involvement, without them you will never do your best demo.

Don’t pounce

Pouncing happens when you get a question from the audience for which you have a killer solution.

At first blush, this appears to be a perfect lead-in to you pitching the killer feature. Be careful. With highly technical products, it’s critical that you fully understand the question it’s impact on the prospects world before you answer.

The best approach is to drill down and try to understand why they want to do the operation. Ask what the effect of not having the feature is now. Ask them how they think they would benefit from it in the future.

The key is to sell value, not features. Prospects only see value when you relate your product to their needs. By jumping into your pitch as soon as you hear a question, you’ll miss the opportunity to get the full picture.

Please let me know what you thought of this article and ask any question you like below.

And be sure to check out our Demo Skills Classes

B2B Web Marketing Goals

Improving your site takes time and effort. Anyone who promises big gains overnight is not being honest lying.

This series outlines a safe, long-term Web Marketing approach that gets results and avoids tricks that might get your site dropped from Google.

What can you expect from this series

I suspect you either want to learn how to improve your site and do the work yourself or you would like to learn enough to get the best from a consultant that you retain to do web marketing for you.

This series can help with both. While not an exhaustive examination of the topic, we do focus on common, practical tips that should help you make substantial progress.

Please enjoy the articles and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

How to Project Confidence in Your Next Sales Presentation

To deliver a compelling sales presentation especially to executives it’s crucial that you project confidence. If you look nervous, timid or hesitant, your audience will begin to doubt you and your message.

Here are five sales presentation tips will help you to deliver your message with confidence, and win the respect of any audience.

Know Your Product, Technology and Market

Without the requisite product, technology and market knowledge it’s difficult to relax. As you present, you’re in constant fear that someone will ask a tough question and embarrass you.

As a rule of thumb, you should get to the point where you can answer 90% of the typical questions that may be asked by your prospects. Any less than 90% and you will risk losing the respect of your audience.

To help you get up to speed:

  • Read everything that you can: data sheets, manuals and marketing collateral.
  • Talk to others on your team and compare notes.
  • As you present, be sure to collect questions that you can’t answer. Look up the answers later and get back to the prospect.

 

Speak Slowly

As you present, its best to keep your pace conversational or even a bit slower than normal. Speaking slowly will make you look thoughtful and competent. Conversely, if you speak rapidly, you will appear nervous and unsure of yourself.

Use Pauses

Pauses increase the impact that your words have on your audience. Pauses project confidence. By pausing for a few seconds between thoughts, you show your audience that what you are saying is important. To project even more confidence, be sure to establish eye contact with your audience as you pause.

Avoid Filler Words such as UM and AH

Filler words, are distracting to your audience and give the impression that you are nervous. For tips on how to avoid them, please check out this post on filler words.

Use Short Concise, Complete Sentences

As you speak, you want to be sure to express your thoughts in as few words as possible. You don’t want to weaken your messages by throwing in extra thoughts just to fill the silence.

If you like this post, please consider subscribing to this blog. Please visit this link for more information on our sales presentation training class.

Efficient B2B Sales Account Research Tip

Before you make that first call, you need to understand the problems that the prospect faces that you can solve.
This B2B Quick Tip shows you a very efficient way to do account research on a prospects web site.

Most reps start working their way around the web site visiting pages like the: News, About, Product and Management trying to understand a bit about the account. For a much more effective way to get information, try using the Google site search operator to zero in on exactly what you want.

Here’s a couple of examples:

1) To Look for the names of Execs with a specific title

Use the Google command:
Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com vp sales
OR
Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com vp engineering

Use any title that makes sense and this will return any reference on the site to that title.

2) To see if they use a specific technology

Use the command:

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com nameoftechnology

3) If you want to know if they face a specific challenge such as tanking revenues

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com quarterly loss

4) To see if they make a specific type of product

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com system OR instrument OR tool

To look for an event that provides an opportunity for you to sell, try:

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com recall

OR

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com new facility

Good Selling

Lead Generation Article Key Lead Generation

Lead generation is the life’s blood of your sales engine. This article covers five key lead generation strategies that you can put into practice today.

1) Use Pay-per-click ads like Google adwords.

This system is a great way to jumpstart your lead generation process. It only takes a few minutes and your ads will be up and running.

2) Get on a consistent online press release program.

Online press releases have several advantages over their offline counterparts:

a) They have a lower barrier to entry – the editorial hurdles are much lower with online press. Most sites will print a release as long as the basic grammar and spelling is correct. Product upgrades, feature announcements are all fair game online.

b) They provide web rank boost, through links to your site.

c) They often rank higher in search engine results than your own site does.

This is especially important for new sites who do not rank well in the search engines. An online release with a popular online trade site can pop you up to a first page position for a key search term.

3) Ride the coattails of a well established partner.

Do you have a larger better known partner that you can use to help make your programs and events more successfull? Larger companies often have a well established user list and can be of great help in publicizing webinars and other events. In addition, they will have a larger sales force that can provide you with sales opportunities as well.

4) Try speaking at your next industry trade show.

Even if your budget is limited and your are unable to exhibit at an industry show, you may do well to speak on your product or services. Speaking can be an excellent lead generation mechanism for your business. Be sure to pick a catchy and popular topic related to your products. You will also find that although, you may not get as many leads as you would if you were on the show floor, the quality of the leads will be much higher.

5) Try calling at multiple levels in key accounts.

A common cold calling mistake is to call high in an organization first. This is often done because the names of VPs are readily available on most company web sites. The problem with this strategy is that these people are very busy and hard to reach. You should try to reach them, but when you do, you must have a crisp business value related message to deliver of you will get nowhere. A great way to gain background information on issues that the manager may be facing is to call lower ranking members of the leader’s team. The lower ranking members will be much more accessible and can provide you with invaluable background information.

Pat Shaughnessy is Principal and Founder of Technology Sales Seminars (www.sales-training-lead-generation.com), a sales consulting and training company that helps companies dramatically increase their sales. He can be reached at 1-978-808-0626 or Contact us via online form .

B2B Technology Sales Defined

Selling technology in a business to business (B2B) environment means selling to technical audiences. Common examples might include:

  • Selling OEM Software to Engineers who will use the software’s application programming interface (API) to integrate it into their end product.
  • Selling integrated circuits (ICs) to hardware engineers designing technology products like TVs or Weapons systems or MP3 Players.
  • Selling development tools like compilers, debuggers, logic analyzers or network traffic analyzers.

The types of products and scenarios are legion, but the unifying factor is that the sales team needs to have a deep understanding of the underlying technology that they are selling.

The Team

In B2B technology sales, teams are typically comprised of an account manager who is responsible for the sales and business aspects of the deal, and an application engineer who is responsible for the technical portion of the sale.

The Sales Cycle

The sales process for technology products, tends to run from several weeks to many months depending on the complexity of the product and it’s overall impact on an organization. An on site technology demonstration, followed by a detailed product evaluation are usually required before a sale is made.

The Stakes are High

One of the most important aspects of the the technology sale is that it is often more important for the technical buyer to make the right choice than it is to get the best price.

The reason for this atypical behavior is that technology products often become an integral part of the user’s process or products. If a prospect buys a tool with the expectation that the tool will improve and optimize a process, they need to realize these benefits. Products that do not work as advertised can scuttle a project and result in layoffs or even failure of a start up.

If an engineer selects an integrated circuit for a design it is crucial that the part meets specifications and that the vendor can deliver the part on time. Missed deliveries or poor quality can ruin an engineering schedule and incur costly redesigns.

Advanced Selling Skills Seminar

Advanced Selling

Experienced sales representatives are your best selling resource. You count on these seasoned pros to break into key accounts and to win large deals from entrenched competition. To get the very best from them, you need to educate and motivate them to constantly improve.

Our experts interview your sales managers and senior reps to find out what specific challenges they are facing. We then create a class that is specifically focused on making your team more successful.

Who Will Benefit From This Training Seminar?

Experienced sales people, sales managers, and sales executives can all benefit from this fast-paced interactive program. Send us a questions about this class via on-line form>>.

What Will be Covered?

  • Selling value
  • Key account management
  • Winning against tough completion
  • Mastering multi-party sales
  • Complex negotiating
  • Establishing long term relationships
  • Engaging key executives
  • Uncovering needs
  • Researching for relevance
  • Advanced face-2-face sales skills
  • Advanced presentation skills
  • Growing existing accounts