If you’ve been in a B2B sales call or a demo you would be familiar with this kind of conversation:
“Customer: We are evaluating products so we can do ‘XYZ’ throughout our company and wanted to talk to you guys.
Sales Rep: Great!! How can we help?
Customer: Well, we were earlier using ‘XYZ’ product but we were not happy so we have a few questions that we want to go through. Starting with ‘ABC’ feature.
Sales Rep: Yes sure. We have ‘ABC’ feature which is very simple to configure. Let me show you how. I am sharing my screen now. Okay, so I’m logging in with my credentials. You go to this section and click here, this pop up will open. Enter ‘XYZ’ information and then go into your backend panel and at ‘X’ enter this information. Can you see it? Ok good.
Now when you have done that, come back to our platform and do blah blah blah and it will work for you.
Sales Rep: Did that answer your question?
Customer: Uummm. Yeah, I guess. Perhaps we can move on to the integration of third party service providers.
Sales Rep: Well, that’s available in this section. You can go to this page, choose your third party account, provide us the API key and you’re done. We have integration with over 50 service providers and we keep on adding more.
Customer: ok. What does your pricing structure look like?
Sales Rep: So we give 15 day trial period to all our customers. Once your trial is over you can take the subscription. I’m sending you the link to our pricing page. Did you get that? So we charge based on XYZ and if you want LMN you can activate that anytime and we also provide you with blah blah blah.
Customer: Okay, can you guys give us a proposal?
Sales Rep: Yeah sure, it’s all here. So if you go to your billing section and select your account type and number of users, you’ll see the total pricing. You can pay through credit card and it will done. Simple process. We try to keep everything simple in our products. You can upgrade or downgrade anytime and will be charged on pro-rata basis. You can find our documentation at the link I’m sending you right now. Everything is at your finger tips.
Customer: Okay, let us go over what you shared and we’ll get back to you. Thank you.
Sales Rep: Great! We are looking forward to working with you. Thanks. Bye!”
(Conversation is a modified version of Shervin’s article)
Wakey Wakey!! You most certainly lost a customer there.
This scenario is pretty common with inexperienced sales team or when there are no sales people at all, mostly in startups. There is an old rule of sales – ‘Ask the right questions and try to listen to your customer 80% of the time.’ Though I don’t agree with the 80% bit but I definitely agree upon the first part.
During the initial days of working with PerfectCloud we use to have conversations like these very often and the end result was the same, almost 95% of the time we never heard back from the potential customer. Our product was nice, we had everything in place and we were very enthusiastic in helping everyone but still lost those 95% and a major reason I realize now was – we didn’t ask the right questions.
We were frustrated and finally decided to test a framework where we planned to ask 5 predefined questions during the demo so it doesn’t become a one way conversation and should also help us in understanding the core customer pain points. We then focused the demo around those pain points and clearly explained two things:
- How are we solving those pain points?
- Along with the solution, how does that solution adds to their ROI?
It increased the response rate from customers by about 35%. So now we were losing 60% leads after the first demo, down from 95% and here is what we did –
Every time we started a demo call, after the initial introductions we asked two specific questions:
Question 1 – What are you looking to achieve with our product?
This question not only allows customer to speak their heart out and explain what they are looking for but also shows that we care about their pain points. It sets the ground for demo and whoever in our team is presenting never fails to make notes. Now that we know what they are looking for we focus and re-structure the demo accordingly. This also helps us in keeping the demo short, to the point and more time is spent on Q&A.
Question 2 – What’s the biggest challenge you face in your business in regards to this problem?
Once the problem is discussed it’s time to discuss the impact of this problem on their business. The answers you get might be as simple as ‘loss of productivity for employees’ or it might be costing them a lot more dollars by not adopting a feasible solution. Larger the impact, better chance to score. It will also help you in defining the ROI of your product or certain features.
Once you’re on with the demo, it’s time to make sure they understand every important detail and hence your next question –
Question 3 – If you have any questions regarding this feature?
Some presenters like to give demo in a flow and some like it to be conversational. No matter what your style is, it’s important to ask customers if they have any questions and probably follow up by asking ‘How do they do it in their organization?’ or some other relevant question.
For example, one of the feature in our product SmartSignin is the integration of Identity Stores like Windows AD/LDAP, Google Apps, Salesforce etc and once we are done explaining this feature we always ask ‘Which Identity Store do you use in your organization’. This helps us connect the dots for them by explaining how they can do it in our product.
Once your demo has nearly ended you can further ask these questions –
Question 4 – Have you used or evaluated a similar product?
This is an excellent question to ask if you feel the person knows way too well about product features. In B2B environment a company looks at multiple alternatives to make sure they are buying the right product for their needs and hence it shouldn’t be a shock if you’re asked ‘how you’re better than XYZ competitor’. If you’re not comfortable answering such questions you can always flip the situation by asking them this question first. You can further drill down on what they liked in their product and make sure to communicate your strong points.
If you’re a startup, you always have the leverage to say ‘You know those guys might be the biggest player out there but we are young and innovative and we’re going to serve our initial customers way better than them serving their 715th one.’
Question 5 – How are you going to make a decision if our product is a good fit?
This question might seem a bit forward but if you can sense their interest you can go ahead with it. It’s always good to understand how decisions are made in an organization so you won’t be surprised tomorrow. Also, once you know the process you can expedite it by providing additional information or data to make the decision making process simpler at every stage.
For example, CIOs might want to see some case studies or the senior manager involved at the first stage might want to read white papers to better understand the market. 8 out of 10 times you would need to provide additional resources and it’s always better to keep them handy.
Though these are the 5 main questions we tend to ask, we never shy away from asking more questions and one question that has helped us time and again is –
Question 6 – How did you hear about us?
Needless to say but the answers can open a wide range of opportunities for you. Not only you can quantify your marketing efforts, you might have a happy customer referring other people. You know what to do next.
On a side note, this question once helped us in identifying that the person taking the demo was connected to our competitors.
Would love to hear which questions invoke the best response for you.