Most customers and prospects are well aware that the average sales rep did not necessarily play a direct role in developing the product they’re selling -- but they need to sound as knowledgeable as if they had.
As part of any traditional go-to-market strategy, there comes a point where sales teams have to be briefed on what exactly the company is launching, why customers might want it and how it’s different from similar products being developed by other kinds of organizations.
Ideally, these product briefing sessions would happen in person, and as a group. The reality of most small and medium-sized businesses, however, is that team members are likely to be widely dispersed at any given time. That means technologies that can connect people together by sharing the presenter’s screen during a conference call or online meeting will be the most likely setting for at least a few of the participants.
A product demo briefing is just the starting point in any sales training, of course, and in a well-run firm this won’t be the moment reps will hear about the product for the first time. They should have already been exposed to sales enablement materials that may have been in development, for example, from brochures and data sheets to more comprehensive assets like white papers.
By the time they sit down for this particular demo, though, reps will be looking for a chance to be nearly as “hands on” as their first customers will be once they buy the product and start using it. A briefing like this isn’t just about convincing the reps why the product is worth selling, but what it will mean for developing the relationships they have with their customers, and ultimately helping them be more successful. That may be a subtle nuance, but it’s an important one.
If you’re a sales rep and you’re not seeing some of the elements that follow, speak up and ask to have them clarified. And while product briefings can involve demoing all kinds of offerings, this post is based on the idea of demoing a new software application as a representative example.
When a product briefing simply walks sales reps through what the offering does, it may overlook the bigger picture. In many cases, customers are looking for a means to an end -- a business outcome or a challenge they’re trying to solve. One of the best sources of intelligence about those outcomes, of course, is a CRM like Sales Cloud, because it not only tracks what’s been sold and to whom, but all kinds of other information about customers’ needs and wants.
If you’re briefing the sales team with a demo of a new real estate application, for instance, what might interest the customer most is not how fast it runs or how well the interface has been designed, but what it means in terms of a real estate firm selling more properties or making the management of information easier.
You don’t have to leave out what are sometimes referred to as the “speeds and feeds,” of course, but a good demo for sales will take them on a journey similar to the one they’ll take with customers and prospects later on. The training should not only put them on the same page with marketing and service, but, ideally, accelerate the process of developing their next pitch deck.
The devil of any product is in the details, so don’t leave the demo too high level. Instead, walk through the specific steps a typical user would take. This could include:
Unless a sales rep is pitching a brand-new business without a lot of legacy equipment or applications, anything they sell will need to fit in with other products and services.
A sales product briefing may go over other major tools with which an application integrates, for instance. If the list of major integrations is only partly complete, sales should be given more details on where further integrations are planned in the longer-term product roadmap, because it will likely come up with customers.
Then there are the more custom pieces of equipment or software that a customer may be running, like the core banking system in a financial services firm. What will deploying the new product mean? How can customers avoid risk and deal with any trade-offs or glitches? Customers may accept some issues or limitations with a new product if they understand them well enough in advance.
Don’t treat sales product briefings as a one-off exercise. As new features or functions are added on, run through some of the same things again, this time with more insight and feedback from customers gathered through Sales Cloud.
A good internal demo should not be a one-way lecture but a collaborative dialogue -- just like a strategic selling conversation with a customer.