B2B buying decisions are becoming increasingly complex. The number of stakeholders involved in the purchase decision continues to rise. To compound the problem, buying teams opt to do much of their own research first, only reaching out to vendors when they’re more than halfway through the process, which is well past the point where internal conflicts peak.
Has adding these layers of complication to the buyer’s journey put sales prospects in a better position to eventually identify the solutions that their companies need? The data suggests otherwise. According to Gartner, in the past two years, some 94 percent of enterprise buying teams have abandoned at least one effort to purchase.
Given these trends, sales teams are under more pressure to get involved in their prospects’ internal decision-making processes in order to close more sales.
Thankfully, sales and marketing technologies have also come a long way to make selling easier. While CRM ecosystems like Salesforce empower sales teams to effectively manage their tasks throughout the customer lifecycle, virtual cloud servers also play their part in providing technological support to in managing sales operations. For instance, virtual laboratories can now be used to host virtual sales demos and proofs of concept. Demos have become critical to the sales process since these concretely show target customers how products and services work.
Premium virtual lab providers like CloudShare have advanced functionalities such as environment templates, user management, and screen sharing that can be used to quickly deploy and conduct demos. CloudShare even has a Cloud Demo Center Plugin for Salesforce, for maximum integration into sales nurture processes.
Demos hosted in virtual lab environments go beyond typical video conferences since virtual labs can be set up to feature complex network topologies similar to the actual environments in which enterprise applications run. Customers can access these interactive hands-on demos anywhere, at any time.
But how exactly do virtual demos help sales teams close more sales? Here are three game-changing features...
Sales demos for enterprise applications can take up a lot of time and resources. Companies often have to invest in costly equipment – including servers and other appliances – earmarked for demo purposes, which pre-sales engineers have to lug around whenever they have demos since demos are usually held on prospects’ premises. Further, the engineers have to physically be at the venue to set up the equipment. Sometimes, these engineers are the people who conduct the demos themselves.
Using cloud resources, sales engineers can simply create virtual demo environments, instead of physically setting up demo equipment. Cloud resources are scalable and accessible. On-site demos are often limited by the equipment being used forcing some to use a scaled back version of the software for demo purposes. Using cloud resources, however, demos could simulate the complex infrastructures in which the software will eventually run once it’s deployed by the prospect. Sales engineers can use templates to quickly set up new or additional demo environments for every client without having to start from scratch. There’s also little requirement at the client’s end since virtual demos can be accessed using any updated browser.
Providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) aim to ease the pressures of hosting demos and proofs-of-concept (POCs) in the cloud. AWS, through its partner network, even offers free usage to qualified businesses that want to showcase their software on AWS.
This is a far cry from webinar-style online meeting platforms, which are useful mostly for their screen-sharing functionality. Through virtual demos, sales teams can manage more engagements due to the time saved simply by being exempt from travel. Casting a wider net allows sales reps to close more deals. The quality of the demos doesn’t have to be compromised either since preparation and travel time can be used to create better lead-specific demo content instead.
When it comes to sales, if the person you’re pitching to can’t literally see the value of your solution, they’re unlikely to buy it. That’s what demos are for. Ideally, your demos should provide evidence that your product is the remedy to your prospects’ problems. Each buying organization has its own set of pain points and sales objections. This is why sales representatives need the ability to sniff these concerns out early.
Resist the temptation to speak to the lowest common denominator of commonplace issues in the industry. Simply giving prospects access to a vanilla version will limit your demo’s effectiveness. Rather than performing a simple walkthrough, customize a demo that focuses on your specific prospect’s needs. This way, you can weave a story based on their concerns, so that your demo can show how your software is a best-fit for them. Never underestimate the power of a good story.
What’s great about using a virtual lab for the demos is that the environment you display can be configured to simulate your prospect’s infrastructure. Multiple instances and environments can be created to illustrate the various user stories. Letting potential buyers try these situations hands-on creates a genuine experience that resonates with them and increases feature recall at critical decision-making moments.
Further, since virtual demos are always online, qualified leads can also be allowed extended access beyond the initial presentation, so that additional stakeholders can take their time exploring your software.
It can also be challenging to measure how well the customer is taking to your demo. Sometimes, it’s the issues they encounter that can turn the tide against you no matter how minor they are.
Through virtual labs, the customer’s interactions with the demo can be tracked in real time using heat maps and analyzed later using automated dashboards. This gives the sales team a clear idea of how customers are using the application and what challenges they’re facing in doing so. If your team can spot certain behaviors such going off-script or abruptly quitting, they can quickly step in and solve bugs, and address user concerns or quality issues.
Consequently, your sales team can sustain customers’ interest and minimize friction points that can affect their perception of your product. Being notified of these concerns means that your sales team can then perform timely interventions, clarify your value proposition, and reframe the discussion towards a successful close.
Demos effectively frame your products and services as the ultimate solution to your customers’ problems. But there are some serious drawbacks associated with the traditional methods of demonstrating enterprise software to prospective buyers. Virtual demos solve many of these issues. They allow sales teams to reach more customers and provide a more interactive and rich experience.
Even the most critical buying teams will find it hard to resist your pitch if your demo provides real evidence that your software works.
Rohan Ayyar fits into dual roles at E2M, a digital marketing agency where he’s involved in web analytics and creative content strategy, and at Moveo Apps, where he steers the UX process with a focus on conversions. Rohan is an avid blogger, with posts featured on Fast Company, Business Insider India and Entrepreneur, amongst others. Follow him on Twitter at@searchrook.