As a Senior Director of Sales Consulting at Oracle, Tod and his team of Sales Engineers and Solution Consultants support the sales team in their division and are responsible for onsite and remote demos. Like a lot of presales leaders, he was in a resource crunch, being asked to more with less. He had a mandate to decrease costs to improve profitability by increasing margins. At the same time, he was seeing a jump in requests for demos as his qualified prospect pool was increasing.

What did he do? He turned to Demo Automation.

Demo Automation might be an effective solution for you if you’re struggling with similar challenges, including:

  • Trying to keep up with the number of demos requested by prospects
  • Seeing your demo resources stay stagnant or even shrink all while your sales teams and prospect pools are growing
  • Wanting to keep key demo resources available for top tier prospects while still accommodating requests by lower tier prospects
  • Trying to fulfill demo requests in multiple languages in different markets
  • Wanting to personalize the prospect demo experience for ABM campaigns
  • Shorten the sales cycle by engaging multiple stakeholders earlier in the sales process

What is Demo Automation?

Demo Automation is a new approach to doing demos that lets each prospect get a personalized video demo, so sales people can focus their client interactions on closing.

In a sense, Demo Automation is an attempt to do what an excellent sales engineer, or salesperson, would do: discover what the customer needs then tailor the demo to their unique needs. Instead of doing this manually, Demo Automation uses technology to automate the process by querying the prospect with brief discovery questions, then automatically customizing the product education experience to the customer’s unique interests.

What Demo Automation Is Not

Sometimes people confuse demo automation with posting a webinar recording video on YouTube. While that makes the content accessible, it inherently leaves some gaping holes.

Demo Automation is NOT:

  • Simply posting videos online. While they are available and you can track general analytics, you get no actionable insight for each prospect, and no personalization.
  • Posting a link to a PowerPoint presentation. While it does make content available, it doesn’t personalize the experience and usually isn’t engaging.  How many of us like to watch PowerPoint really? What qualified prospects want is to learn deeply about the product their interested in, in a self-directed way.
  • An attempt to replace the salesperson.  The goal is to put tools in their hands that engage customers, and that will make sales people more efficient, allowing them to both handle more customers and, more importantly, accelerate the sales process.
How do you effectively automate a demo?

In order to effectively automate a product demo, your automated demo needs to:

  • Personalize the content to each prospect’s unique interests and needs so that they are fully engaged. Self-configuring personalization should speak to different roles, verticals or other criteria and should offer additional ‘drill-down’ content if the prospect wants to go further.
  • Be available anytime and anywhere.
  • Notify the salesperson when the prospect watches or shares the demo so they can engage the prospect at the time they are most actively engaged.
  • Track individual analytics about how each prospect interacts with the demo so that the sales team can tell what is important, not important, and craft effective follow up.
  • Collect analytics across all demo views so you can see trends in customer interest and engagement.
  • Encourage and track sharing to help the salesperson discover and engage the different stakeholders in the buying group early in the sales process as well as reduce the number of times live demos are necessary.
  • Provide notifications and statistics to the internal champion as they share the demo internally.
  • Be educational and persuasive in order to get the prospect to act.

But Our Demos Are So Customized and Our Prospects Appreciate that “Personal Touch”

I sometimes hear the objection, “Our demos are so customized and this is such an important step where we connect personally with the customer and get a read on them, I don’t see this working for us.”

Interestingly, this was the same argument that HR and Training used back in the early part of the century when e-learning (self directly online courses) was coming on the scene. At the time I led an e-learning company and we constantly heard the following arguments:

  • “Training is inherently a people activity. It can’t be automated.”
  • “People need the personal touch for training to be effective.”
  • “Technology can’t possibly replace the effectiveness of a live trainer. The trainer needs to customize the approach to each person in the class.”

At the time, the objections were somewhat difficult to overcome. Only “early adopters” were leveraging the benefits that e-learning could bring to their organizations. Today, every company of any significant size incorporates self-directed online learning as part of their Training and Development strategy.

So, I’m somewhat surprised to see these kinds of objections appear when similar self-directed educational technology is applied to the sales role and process.

Automation is not going to replace personal interaction. It will simply make those interactions exponentially more efficient and effective. A Demo Automation platform allows you to put your sales process into overdrive. It will help scale your sales, increase sales productivity, shorten the sales cycle, and decrease the cost of customer acquisition – all while delivering incredible customer insights.

Who is Demo Automation For?

Whoever is doing your live demos now. Again, I’m not suggesting you complete replace your live demos, but instead reduce how many you do and make the ones you do wildly more efficient and effective. Demo automation can be effective for:

  • Sales Development Reps (SDRs)
  • Pre-sales Professionals including Sales Engineers and Solution Consultants
  • Account Executives
  • Channel Partners who are surrogate salespeople
  • Product Marketers
  • Account Based Marketers (ABM)

What Results Can Demo Automation Help With?

Tod at Oracle discovered that with Demo Automation he was able to make significant progress. The mark of success for him was being able to no longer be in a resource crunch, meet all demands for demo requests (sometimes closing significant sized deals in other countries without having to do a live demo), and still drive up margins.

Another division inside a Fortune 500 company saw their sales cycle decrease by more than 60% while simultaneously seeing their close rates increase. Demo Automation is now a required part of their sales process.

I encourage you to look past any initial resistance you may have to the concept of Demo Automation and realize that just as self-directed intelligent learning technology helped transform the Learning and Development industry in the last two decades, similar technologies designed specifically for B2B sales teams can help your sales organization be more efficient all while being more effective.

This week’s post is by guest author Garin Hess, Founder & CEO of Consensus, a demo automation platform. Consensus™ delivers a personalized video demo to each new prospect. Then, as your internal champion shares Consensus™ with other stakeholders, it automatically discovers each of their unique interests and educates them in a personalized way. Connect with Garin on Twitter or LinkedIn.