Giving a prospect a software demonstration before asking them any questions is a waste of your salesperson’s time.

In a SaaS world of online software demonstrations (given by inside sales teams to business executives with no time to spare), salespeople sometimes forgo the basics. They dive into the demonstration without first understanding the prospect’s situation.

Business people have limited time. They will often say, “I just want an overview of your software. Can you walk me through it on the phone?” Salespeople are delighted to have a prospect show interest, so a call is scheduled, generally around twenty minutes. With limited time, sales team members jump right in and start demonstrating the software.

Unfortunately, this quick overview results in low demonstration-to-close ratios. Your salesperson has no context prior to presenting your software’s value proposition. For example, a prospect may be more concerned about the implementation process, but your salesperson demonstrates features and functionality. Or, a prospect may be more concerned about the business case and how to prepare a return-on-investment analysis, but your salesperson demonstrates the implementation process.

Understanding the prospect’s issues is crucial

That’s why your salespeople should ask at least a few questions before they demonstrate your software. Even if the prospect only has twenty minutes for an “overview,” spending five minutes to discover pain points results in a much more effective demonstration.

Strategize in your sales team meetings to develop the top five questions to ask prior to a software demonstration. This conversation is always dynamic and often revelatory, but it doesn’t always result in a consensus. Listed below are my time-tested pre-software demonstration questions. Use them as a starting point.

Take the quiz

Make it a game. Have all sales team members pick the top five questions they would like prospects to answer. Then, discuss and come to a consensus.

  1. What causes you to be interested in our software solution at this point in time?
  2. What are the business challenges that you would like to resolve?
  3. What are the consequences of doing nothing?
  4. Looking at the next two or three quarters, what are some of the other business challenges you will need to address?
  5. How did you hear about our software solution?
  6. Please tell me more about your responsibilities.
  7. How long have you worked at the company?
  8. Have you made similar purchases during your tenure with this company?
  9. Please tell me about your software purchasing process.
  10. Including yourself, who is involved in the decision making process?
  11. Upon what criteria will you base your decision?
  12. How will you go about determining which software solution is best for your situation?
  13. Who has responsibility for the financial decision regarding this purchase?
  14. How will you assess your return-on-investment?
  15. What other options are you considering in order to solve these problems?
  16. What is the most important aspect of this new software? Why?
  17. Compared to other important business initiatives you have on your plate, how important is implementing new software such as ours?
  18. Who will be the point person or people on your team using the software?
  19. When would you like to go live? Why?
  20. What features are most important to you?

How’d you do? The one question that I always recommend for every short list is this: “What causes you to be interested in our software solution at this point in time?”

Executive Summary

By leading a strategy session to develop the top five questions to ask before giving a software demonstration, your sales team’s demonstration-to-close ratio will increase. A few points of improvement to your team’s close ratio can drive sales past your quarterly number.

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