About This Report Background Current State of the Demo The Rise of PLG &
Sales Impact
The Trusted Advisor Conclusions & Recommendations
State of the Product Demo
This report was developed to assess how software sales demos are managed and delivered in today’s selling environment.
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About This Report

Over the past few years, the sales landscape has shifted from seller-led to prospect-led as prospective buyers have more access to product information and are more knowledgeable about the buying process.

The goal of this report is to identify trends, shortcomings, and improvement areas in the modern demo process to see if the sales demo is keeping up with new buying patterns.

In this report, we review:
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The current state of the sales demo
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The rise of PLG and its impact on the sales demo
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How the role of who performs the demo is changing
Over 150 presales, growth, sales, and marketing professionals across different industries and companies responded to our survey. The respondents were from organizations of varying sizes, from startups to large enterprises:
Breakdown of Company Size
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The traditional sales process has shifted for two reasons:
Changing buyer demographics
Nearly half of today's buyers are 25-30 years old. This younger group of buyers prefers to act independently and do their own research before engaging with a salesperson.
The rise of Product Led Growth
Traditionally, product-led growth (PLG) is thought of as prospects essentially educating themselves on a product without the guidance of a salesperson. PLG gives buyers the ability to be more hands-on in their sales cycle, meaning companies need to shift their go-to-market strategies to stay competitive in the end-user era.
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Current State
of the Demo

To see if companies are adopting a buyer-first selling approach, we looked into how seamless their sales processes are, from the first "book a demo button" click down to the demo itself.

We found the current demo process is full of friction points, causing inefficiencies for both prospects and sales teams, reducing time to product value, and extending the deal cycle.
What is the estimated lag time between a demo request and an actual demo?
Time to Demo: 75% of the time 3+ days
What is the estimated lag time between a demo request and an actual demo?
(500+ Employees)
Time to Demo: 85% of the time 3+ days
If a prospect is lucky, they wait three days to see the product and sit through an hour-long demo. Most likely, they will have to wait a week just for a discovery call.

This experience is even more frustrating for the buyer considering that “Book a Demo” is the most common CTA on SaaS companies’ websites. When prospects click that button, they expect to see the product, not wait a week for a discovery call.

Discovery calls exist because most buyers used to have no idea what the software they are evaluating does. In the PLG world, prospects do their own discovery, eliminating the need for lengthy discovery calls altogether.

As we see in the “What is the estimated lag time between a demo request and an actual demo? (500+ Employees)" chart, this trend is even worse for large companies.
For an average deal (typical deal size), how long is your “standard” sales-led demo?
Standard Demo Time: 30 minutes to an hour
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In today's fast-moving software marketplaces, buyers don't have time to wait days to simply see a product. They don't have the patience to sit through hour-long demonstrations, and they certainly don't take the time to watch hour-long recordings of demo meetings.”
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Clients are overanalyzing solutions. By the time I give my first demo, said client could have already viewed 8 or 9 other solutions within the same week!”
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Demonstrations are too long and static, demos need to become short and sweet, you no longer need to show all 3 products and 100% of their features.”
Voices from the Community
For what percentage of deals does your team deliver a demo on the first call?
For what percentage of deals does your team deliver a demo on the first call? (500+ Employees)
Key Takeaway
Time to value is subpar for most sales teams. Considering on average it takes 3 - 5 days to get to a demo (or worse discovery call), most companies are putting themselves at serious risk during the buying process.

What are prospects doing as they wait around to see a demo?
  • Losing interest in your product
  • Evaluating competitors
  • Allowing the status quo to remain the norm at their company
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The Rise of PLG & Sales Impact

There is a common misconception that PLG is trying to replace sales. However, you can take a hybrid approach to PLG that prioritizes the customer experience so they can see the value of your product earlier in the sales cycle without any friction.

Time to value is critical for a successful product-led sales motion. Given the wealth of information they have access to online, modern buyers expect to get instant value.

This shift is slowly changing traditional sales processes. Product-led growth is making waves in the current demo landscape.
How do users engage with your product?*
20% engage through free trial
20% engage through an interactive product demo
While a majority of the processes are still sales-led demos, the rise of free trials, Proof of Concepts (POCs), and interactive product demos show that prospects are searching for ways to try before they buy.

These trends were consistent across all-sized teams, not just for smaller startups.

Free trials and POCs are effective at introducing your product to your prospect. However, teams must be careful that they don’t significantly extend the deal cycle.

Interactive product demos on the other hand are no-code solutions that allow your prospects to get hands-on but don't require lengthy setup.

*Respondents could select multiple ways customers engage with their product
If you offer a time-based trial, how long is the typical evaluation period?
The majority of free trials are 15 - 30 days long
The good news is most sales cycles still don’t require a proof of concept, which usually extends the cycle even longer than a free trial. This could tie back to the idea that prospects prefer getting hands-on with the product earlier in the buying cycle than a POC, through free trials or interactive product demos.

Given the effort on the companies' side as well, proof of concepts tend to be reserved for more enterprise-level deals. For smaller deals, sales teams will have to find alternative ways to let the prospect get hands-on.
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With the rise of PLG, the role of the product demo is quickly shifting for the average enterprise software sale. For one, buyers are expecting to dive into the product sooner and to be hands-on in the product upfront.”
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Product demos need to evolve along with the evolution of the buying process. Buyer enablement requires more product knowledge earlier in the sales cycle to satisfy a higher level of research by prospects.”
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Consumers are more aware of the product than ever before. They’ve done their research before they ever pick up the phone or reach out for the first time. Our demo process should reflect this.”
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Prospects are engaging differently. They generally arrive knowing what your product/platform does since it's all out there online - they only want to evaluate fit to their org, tech landscape, and culture.”
Voices from the Community
​For what percentage of deals do prospects request to get 'hands-on' with the product during evaluation?
For what percentage of deals does your team build a custom proof-of-concept?
Key Takeaway
While standard sales-led demos are still the most popular way prospects engage with the product, other alternatives are growing in popularity to meet current product-led buyer trends.

Front line sales reps are clearly seeing this shift in buying, however companies are still slow to adapt.
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The Trusted Advisor

As prospects become more educated on the product, the role of the technical seller has to shift away from being a "demo jockey".

To be successful, sales professionals need to:
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Be more consultative than selling
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Be knowledgeable around the product itself
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Take tips and skills from CS teams
Outside of your Sales Engineering organization, which roles on the go-to-market team deliver sales-led demos?
30% of demos being done by CS, only 50% by AEs
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Getting products into the hands of our customers faster has been the key to our success. Relationships continue to matter, but in this buyer-led, product-led environment we first need to prove we can meet their needs before we earn permission to ask our qualifying questions.”
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Demos should be shorter, more focused, and leveraged as absolutely necessary to move a deal forward than they have historically. The days of wasting customer time with weakly qualified spray-and-pray demos are over, if you want to stay competitive. This should start with more expert qualifying and true consulting.”
Voices from the Community
Key Takeaway
Leaders need to evaluate their current sales teams structure and encourage collaboration with other teams, including marketing and customer success, to ensure they are up to date on the product.