Enterprise Sales 101 – Software Demos

I’m in enterprise software sales, and I often have people who have never sold anything, much less high priced software, tell me what I’m doing wrong. One of the most common things I get is an inexperienced executive trying to make changes to the way I demonstrate software.

For executives and budding Sales Engineers alike, here are a few things to understand about demonstrating complex software:

Pat’s Demo Rules:

  1. Prospects/Customers don’t buy features. Trying to cram as many illustrations of features into a demo confuses people.
  2. Prospects/Customers don’t buy features, they buy a vision. If it makes it easier to remember, I tell reps to sell holes, not drills.
  3. Demos aren’t compelling. There is nothing about a software demo that will convince someone to buy our software. Seriously. Showing a demo to an unqualified opportunity is a mistake. If the solution isn’t compelling by the time they see a demo, then a demo will not help. It will probably make things worse.
  4. Our solution is where value is. A software demo cannot convey value.
  5. Enterprise software is sold strategically, not tactically. I had to give a demo to the CEO’s wife the other day so she could figure out why we weren’t selling more. A software company will go broke without a full pipeline, and we don’t have a full pipeline. So we short-circuited our well thought-out sales processes and showed a person who is in tactical semiconductor sales a software demo without any preparation at all. The result? “I don’t get it.”
  6. Demos demonstrate features, but we don’t sell features.

So please don’t encourage managers who want to sell high $ enterprise software by opening up with a demo. There is a reason things are the way they are. Qualification (another topic) is essential to have prior to allowing the prospect to see the software. Failing to do so will drastically reduce the likelihood of closing.

Don’t get me wrong. Tactical sales (something I’ve never done) is accomplished by selling any way you can, as fast as you can. Low $ software can be sold this way, but not enterprise/strategic software.

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