How to schedule product demo appointments

by Steli Efti

Product demos are a great way to convert qualified prospects into paying customers. But getting a prospect to attend a demo can be hard. Most prospects would rather tinker around with your software on their own than scheduling an appointment with a sales rep to walk them through a presentation.

Getting prospects to commit to a demo requires selling. And selling always starts with finding out whether the person should buy from you or not.

Qualify first

Ask questions until you arrive at a point where you decide whether the person is qualified or not. Your objective here is to truly understand the prospect’s wants and needs and to make them feel that you understand them and genuinely care about their success.

How to get prospects to attend your demos?

Once you’ve decided whether someone is a fit, look at it from their point of view. Why should prospects make time in their busy schedule for this demo? What’s in it for them? Why should they do it now? Why should they dedicate her time to you and not another vendor?

If you don’t have compelling answers to these questions, you’ll miss out on a lot of demo opportunities. It’s not enough to invite prospects to a demo, it’s not enough to just offer them a demo or ask them to attend. You actually have to deliver a compelling pitch and apply salesmanship so they’ll commit to joining your demo.

Sell, but don’t be salesy

Here are some reasons that won’t convince them to attend your product demo:

  • You’re polite and great at making small talk.
  • You can talk a lot about how amazing your product is and can interrupt everything the prospect says with your own great story.
  • You’re telling prospects how great they are and how much you love what their company does (and they can tell by the slick and smooth delivery that you’re saying the same thing to every single prospect you talk to).
  • You’re telling them that they should join a demo session.
  • You’re telling them that you’d like to learn more about how they want to use your software.
  • You’re telling them they should attend the demo because your software is great and will boost revenues, reduce costs, increase efficiency...

None of these reasons convey value to your prospects. From their point of view, this is all just about you wanting their time.

How to sell the demo

The qualification has given you insights into the objectives they want to achieve. You can bring these up when pitching them the demo:

“I now believe that you should buy from us because you need X, Y, and Z, and we’re the best in the world to do these things. This is going to be a real gamechanger for you. So there’s two ways how we can proceed from here, 1) you can do this yourself and figure it out, and I’m pretty confident you’ll become a customer or 2) I’ll connect you to Kevin (the guy who has helped companies like yours to achieve X, Y and Z even faster with our software), because a 30-minute call with him will get you these results within the next five days.”

If a prospect resists at that point, inquire why. One of the most common reasons is about time. They don’t want to spend half an hour on a demo.

How do you manage this objection?

Attending the demo = saving time

Bring up the value of their time and make that the reason why she should attend the demo.

"Rather than spending hours trying out your software and reading documentation, just spend thirty minutes attending a demo, getting answers to your questions and having a true expert help you to customize the product to your specific needs and workflow."

Another common reason why people don’t want to attend a demo is that they simply don’t see the value in it. Sell them on it, spell it out clearly.

Attending the demo = being more successful

“We’ve found that people who try our software are 35% more likely to succeed with our solution when they join a 30-minute one-on-one demo. It’s the fastest way to figure out if our product can help you, get answers to any questions you have and start using our software in a way that’s optimized for your workflow, so you get the most out of this trial.”

Set an appointment during the call

Once you get their commitment to attend a demo, schedule the demo right away. Tell them to open up their calendar and suggest a date and time to do the demo.

Invite decision makers

This is part of the qualifying process (and you should never demo to someone you haven't qualified first), but it's worth repeating: make sure that the person you're demoing to is actually the decision maker or at least a crucial stakeholder.

If they're not the decision maker, ask them to invite the decision maker to join the demo with them. 

Re-confirm the appointment

Send the prospect a calendar invite right after the call. Then send them a reminder a day in advance and get them to confirm. If they don’t respond, send them another reminder in the morning.

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