How to ace your product-led sales demo

Product Marketing Lead

Delivering a dazzling product demo was once a crucial step in the go-to-market motion of SaaS sales teams. But with the rise of product-led growth (PLG), the role of the product demo isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be. When users have already spent significant time using a product, what purpose should your demo serve, and what materials do you need to have on hand? There’s a new role for the product demo in PLG sales motions, and we’re here to help you get your demo deck right.

On their journey to scaling globally, Slack, Dropbox, and Atlassian rewrote the playbook for SaaS growth. Unlike the IT-sanctioned enterprise behemoths that came before them, these companies made it fast, easy, and fun for anyone to adopt their product and use the free version for as long as they liked — and product-led growth was born.

If you're on a sales team at a PLG-driven company, your process has likely changed — you no longer need to dazzle leads with features and value they’ve never seen before. Chances are, your prospects have already tried a lot of your product’s functionality, and felt its value. Recent studies also confirm that software buyers now prefer to conduct online research independently. 

It’s time to adapt your approach. The rise of PLG means demos now have the potential to be even more powerful in moving prospects toward a purchase decision. The trick is getting them right. 

Make your product demo modular

Product demos used to happen at a specific point in the sales cycle — after a discovery call, and before a prospect had used the tool. In a PLG model, a demo can happen at multiple points in the user’s experience of a product. An existing user may want to learn more about unseen value, or a champion may want to convince other team members to upgrade to the paid plan. To make things even more complex, many SaaS products today have multiple value propositions and use cases.

Your demo needs to flex based on everything you know about your prospect’s business, how they’ve used your product, and the challenges they’re trying to tackle.

Practically, that means creating a modular set of demo slides that can cover several of your product’s use cases as well as the overall value proposition. With a great modular demo presentation, the goal is never to deliver a perfect, preset narrative; it’s to make preparation easy, whatever the circumstances.

What makes a demo presentation effective? 

Your modular demo deck should set up a narrative structure for your product demo. Here’s an effective structure:

  1. Give context for what you’re about to show and why your product is a game changer.
  2. Help prospects understand upfront how they’ll benefit.
  3. Cover known industry problems and pain points to show you understand and empathize with your prospects’ situation.
  4. Map these pain points to your product features, and show how the features address them.
  5. Add a link to your product, and take prospects through the demo.
  6. Recap how your product demo is relevant to your prospects.
  7. Include social proof to show how similar companies are succeeding with the product. 
  8. Leave space for questions and a discussion of next steps.

Use research to tailor your demo 

Once you have a modular deck as a foundation, you can customize each demo based on usage data and what you know about the prospect's business. Do your research before you connect: Where are they missing value, and which parts of your modular demo will most interest them? Confirm what you'll be sharing at the start of the call. If they’d rather see something else, use your modular deck to adapt on the fly.

Here’s how to prep a tailored demo in four steps:

  1. Get context on your prospect. Offer a discovery call to pinpoint where they see the value of your product — and understand their current business challenges. Find out who else is involved in the decision-making process, and ask about their timelines and dependencies.
  2. Where possible, fill in the blanks with research to avoid any unnecessary qualifications. Understand your prospect’s role, employer, and industry, and map these to your user personas.
  3. Analyze telemetry data to paint a picture of your prospect’s product usage to date. Know how much their team has used the product, and where there’s additional demand.
  4. Research how you acquired the user in the first place. 

If the prospect is a product qualified lead, and their product usage suggests they’re already familiar with your product, skip the basics and double down on highlighting opportunities to unlock additional value. Explain your usage tiers, and lean into the return on investment they can expect from paying (or paying more) for your product.

If the data suggests your prospect is less familiar (or not familiar at all) with your product, leverage your modular deck and swap in slides that introduce your solution in more detail.

Deliver your demo at the right altitude

When it comes to demos for PLG tools, no two prospects’ levels of familiarity will ever be the same. Here are a few tips for delivering your presentation.

First off, don’t go granular right away. The goal of a demo isn’t to show off exactly how to use every feature. It’s to communicate information the audience needs to continue moving toward a purchasing decision. Establish a narrative that makes prospects want to expand their team’s use of your product.

Second, listen as much as you sell. Be consultative, ask questions to help you fully understand your audience’s challenges, and leave space for questions and answers throughout the demo. This hybrid demo-sales call is a conversation designed to get prospects interested in your solution — and eager to involve other stakeholders on their buying team.

Finally, your research should give you a list of important questions to ask. Having these ready is key to engaging your prospects and ensuring you fully understand what they want from your product.

Follow up with async materials for decision-makers

Delivering your demo is just the start of a new conversation. According to Gong, successful product demos devote significantly more time to discussing next steps. Be sure to agree on these with your prospect, and set a date for when to connect next. 

A recent LinkedIn report found that the number of stakeholders involved in the average B2B purchasing decision has climbed to a record high of 13 people. This means that a lot of your communication with the buying team will come down to empowering your champion and selling async. Share a leave-behind version of your demo deck that includes agreements from your call, along with answers to any outstanding questions and additional information on features that resonated.

Consider adding a recording of yourself presenting, so stakeholders who weren't able to attend the demo can watch it async.

A living, breathing product demo

Over the past few years, the buyer’s journey for SaaS products has changed significantly, and the role of the product demo and accompanying presentations have evolved with it. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Make a modular demo deck.
  • Use research to tailor your demo.
  • Deliver your demo at the right altitude.
  • Follow up with async materials for decision-makers. 

A final note: Keep testing to continuously iterate and improve on your demo. When no two prospects’ product familiarity is the same, every demo call is an opportunity to try a new variation — and ask a new question.

How are you rising to the challenge of supporting an increasingly product-led buyer’s journey? Share your tips with our community.

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