A Guide to Software Sales Demos: Basics & Best Practices

Sales is an intricate job.

It entails knowing exactly what your potential customers want.

Only, they don’t know it either.

A sales rep’s job is to get customers to see that they can trust you and your product to figure it out together along the way.

And that boils down to your success during the software sales demo.

So to know the know-how of a successful demo for a successful sales team and sales process, let’s take a look at:

πŸ‘‰ What a sales demo is,

πŸ‘‰ A software sales demo script example to guide you,

πŸ‘‰ Why it matters to do it right, and

πŸ‘‰ Some best practices to elevate your software demos,

Don’t have the time? Here’s a quick TL;DR πŸ‘‡

TL;DR

  • A software sales demo is a part of the SaaS sales cycle that focuses on demonstration the product to the potential customers and getting them to find value in it easily.
  • There are different demo types, for example, a product demo is a similar one to a sales demo, but the primary difference lies in the latter taking place before purchase and having a focus on primary aha moments.
  • A self-serve experience via a free trial or a freemium can be as effective as a sales demo with the right add-ons, for example, an onboarding solution.
  • A good demo script consists of intro and immediate value proposition, early aha moments via pain point & solution connection, and feedback & closeup.
  • The reason why a good sales demo makes all the difference is because:
    • You get to revise your demo content for the better,
    • You get to do more customization for different custom segments,
    • You get more opportunities to use sales demo software
  • There are many best practices to create the ultimate sales demo for software, but the most valuable tip is to focus on getting your prospects to reach value and aha moments by themselves by asking them the right questions.

Let’s start with some definitions:

What is a Software Sales Demo?

A software sales demo, or a sales demonstration, is an essential part of the sales cycle where the prospective customers get to see the product in action before making the buying decision. Similar to a regular sales demo, a sales demo get to be directly about software products and have specific differences like a need for product demo videos, video calls, and a high demand for hands-on experiences.

While a successful sales demo can be defined differently for different complex products, one thing is for sure, dwelling on product features and not showcasing the actual product value proposition is a no-go.

Jump to best practices to dive right into that here πŸ‘ˆ

But first, we can talk about the different types of software sales demos and how they can work for you:

Different Types of Software Sales Demos

Putting sales demo types into different categories can be an entirely personal process.

Different businesses – be it B2B, B2C, or any other business model – can require different demo types and sales demo tools depending on so many criteria including:

πŸ‘‰ Potential buyers,

πŸ‘‰ The buying cycle,

πŸ‘‰ The buyer experience & personas,

πŸ‘‰ Demo content,

πŸ‘‰ The follow-up process,

πŸ‘‰ The nature of the product, and more.

While some common demos include product demos, technical demos, video demos, follow-up demos, high-level demos, prospect demos, FAQ demos and other, when it comes to software sales demos, the categories tend to shrink.

Effective sales demos for a software often differ in type according to where the buyer is in the sales cycle, meaning there is mostly a custom demo for someone on the initial discovery stage and someone who is qualified to get hands-on with your product.

Of course, qualification demos and follow-up demos are almost always practices in place.

But after the follow-up demo and the purchase stage, demos can be called product demos instead of sales demos, which often means a hand-off from the sales team to the customer success team.

Let’s talk a little bit about the difference between the two:

Software Sales Demo vs. Product Demo: What is the Difference?

For a SaaS business with product-led tendencies or one that knows how to hold a perfect demo, the difference between software sales demos and product demos is not too big.

Here’s a look at the differences:

A good software sales demo:

βœ… Is for prospective buyers,

βœ… Offers solution to industry and ideal customer profile problems,

βœ… Dwells on solutions instead of feature walkthroughs,

βœ… Has a main mission of passing through the value proposition of the product,

A good product demo:

βœ… Is often for current customers, sometimes for qualified leads,

βœ… Offers solutions for key customer segments and individual customers,

βœ… Can go deeper into advanced features and use cases,

βœ… Has a main mission of increasing product use and retention rates

So all in all, the main difference boils down to purpose, rather than content.

But beyond software sales demos, there is a different way of getting your potential buyers to experience the benefits of your product:

software sales demo

Automated Demos – Self-Serve First πŸ’ͺ

Today, there’s no question smart SaaS companies design around a self-serve model with their demos.

Let the users get in there and discover for themselves, in their own ways, what they can do with your product; focusing on the features and benefits most important to them.

Example: Imagine a gaming demo that lets you download the first introductory part of a game, along with the tutorial content that shows players how to use their characters or avatars. Players can dive in, see what the game world feels like, start using their toon, and make an emotional connection. In SaaS, it’s very similar in many ways. 

The approach saves time, saves money, and again, can be scaled with ease. As long as you’re letting users communicate with you (along with collecting analytic data), you can continually make your demo better and more effective.

Now, that said, because the subject of self-serve is so massive and far-reaching, I’m only going to give you a quick introduction to UserGuiding,

If you want to read more about Self-Serve, check out an easy breakdown article we put together HERE. 

Automate User Onboarding with UserGuiding, no coding

UserGuiding is a 3rd-party user onboarding software that lets you create:

  • interactive product tours,
  • in-app messages,
  • user onboarding checklists,
  • self-help centers and more, without any coding.

It can help you automate user onboarding to maximize retention by displaying your value proposition to your users without the need of in-person calls.

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Let’s turn to the in-person, or P2P sales demos which are still VERY much in use.

It’s a bit different for every company though in how they structure their demos, deliver them, and to whom. 

In writing, there’s a principle where you put special emphasis on the beginnings and endings of sentences.

Why?

Well, because they’re the chains that link everything together.

Let’s talk a little bit about what a good example of a sales demo script looks like:

Software Sales Demo Example: Script Guideline ✍️

Preparing a software sales demo script can be as complex and very much specific to a business and its approach to sales.

However, there are some main guidelines in writing a sales demo script that any business can feed into different types of sales demo scripts.

Here’s only 3 of them:

1- A good intro + immediate value proposition

Any good demo starts with a good intro.

While there is no need to be fixated on a perfectly-written intro that will blow away buyers, it is important to keep it human and friendly.

No point in looking unapproachable in pursuit of professionalism. 

People buy from people, so it is best to be friendly, approachable, and beyond the brand as a salesperson.

And while you’re at it, it also matters to remind the buyers while they are here.

Don’t be too pitchy from the get-go, but start slowly but surely emphasizing the value proposition of your product.

Remember that the call might not always go according to your agenda, be ready to answer each question with a value-related answer as well.

2- Early Aha! moment by reinforcing use case & pain point connection

While you’re at it with hints at your ultimate value as a product, it is important to put talk into action as well.

Interactive demos are the best practice of this approach, but if not, it is still for the best to use your product and its features in a frame of use cases.

For example, knowing your buyer, you can try to look into use cases they might specifically be interested in and connect all that to their ultimate pain points and goals they have with your product.

3- Feedback & Closing Up

Approaching the end of the demo call – going through the entire demo agenda, demo content, customer questions, and all the awkward silence – you can now wrap it up.

But it is important to ask for feedback as you go.

Being in the position you are, asking for feedback can be a delicate situation, but there is nothing to worry about with the right questions after a not-so-bad demo.

Also, remember to make an impression as you close.

A good last impression matters as much as the first impression in a demo environment.

Focus on positive points and address negative points indirectly once again: use the positive aspects of your product to make up for the customers’ doubts and fears.

Though a real, complex sales demo is much more detailed and specific to use, its main outlines resemble our sales demo example above. 

But more importantly, let’s talk about:

Why Optimize Your Software Sales Demo?

We’ve been discussing the “what” part of a sales demo for long now, so then, it is on to talk about the “why” part.

It is without a doubt that sales demos matter immensely to any B2B buying journey, especially for sales-led companies.

But why shape it to match your business’ specific needs perfectly?

The short answer is, of course, to deliver a sale perfectly, but it has more to it than that.

Here 3 reasons why you need to get down to your software sales demo:

1- Revised demo content 

Revizing your software sales demo gives you the opportunity to first and foremost go over your demo content types and how your sales managers approach the sales process.

For example, many B2B businesses still don’t include social proof in the sales demo enough to make an impact.

Even worse, slide decks and lifeless product walkthroughs are still in practice for some teams.

A simple revision toward software sales demo optimization can help highlight the more important demo content that teams must focus on like:

πŸ‘‰ Hands-on product usage,

πŸ‘‰ Demonstration of how customer problems can be solved,

πŸ‘‰ A better demo agenda that centralizes value proposition,

And more.

2- Customization for more segmented demos

Customization for key customer segments is a best practice all B2B business should be doing for their software sales demos.

The benefits include:

βœ… More relevant data collection for potential users and customers, 

βœ… Faster & more confident decision-making process for potential users thanks to specialized demo content,

βœ… More effort toward buyer enablement content bringing in higher conversion rates,

And other benefits depending on your sales team and efforts.

3- More opportunties with sales demo software 

Though there are many companies that trust in their killer demo script and Zoom, using different sales demo tools can be a real gamechanger.

Some of these tools can be used to:

πŸ‘‰ Organize and confirm demo requests and follow-up emails,

πŸ‘‰ Record sales and product demo videos and/or transcribe,

πŸ‘‰ Schedule calls and follow the deal cycle,

πŸ‘‰ Create demo libraries to share with team leads and the rest of the company

And even if you think you don’t need all that, it is wise to give one or two a try to see how you can optimize the customer experience as well as the experience and performance of your own team.

In the light of all that, the importance of software sales demos is clear to see.

We want an optimized sales demo for an optimized sales cycle.

But how exactly do we achieve that?

How do we optimize the sales demos exactly?

Let’s take a look at:

software sales demo best practices

13 Software Sales Demo Best Practices (Step By Step)

As we’ve emphasized time and time again throughout the article, software sales demos almost fully depend on your specific company and goals for the demo.

But here’s a look at some best practices that can come off handy for most B2B software sales demos:

1- Know your product & personas

Unless your sales team, and in the context of demos, your product champion does not know your product enough to connect the dots between prospect problems to solutions, you are doomed to go through many bad demos.

Similarly, it is important to define your buyer personas clear enough to have a guess about pain points way prior to the demo.

Remember: you are not demonstrating your product’s features and capabilities.

You are demonstrating how your product’s capabilities can be a solution to your potential users’ problems.

A perfect demo is a result of this understanding before anything else.

2- Secure the demo

Demo requests are fragile and can disappear unless the connection is done quickly enough.

So, securing the demo in the right time and manner is one of the most important – and overlooked – best practices. 

In doing so, good communication is your number one weapon.

During the mailing stage make sure to:

βœ… Keep it friendly and human,

βœ… Go beyond your brand and talk as yourself, not your brand, to make sure you are not intimidating,

βœ… Don’t push too hard, but make sure to gradually carry your prospect to the actual sales demo,

βœ… Tease your demo agenda and/or any other helpful resources to give them an idea & hype them up,

Just don’t take the demo for granted.

Many software sales demos have been cancelled upon the prospect not showing up, or having the wrong opinion about the product.

3- Research prospect & plan beforehand

It is a no-brainer to “plan ahead”.

But it is important to know how to plan toward success.

And to make it work out, step number 1 is to research your prospective buyer and shape your sales demo content accordingly.

If you’re serious about optimizing your software sales demos, you might have already defined your buyer personas and probably also have key customer segments to go with it.

To build a successful demo script, make sure to define:

πŸ‘‰ Your prospect’s buyer persona & customer segment,

πŸ‘‰ Specific pain points they might be/are suffering from,

πŸ‘‰ Use cases & success stories you can use to relate to them

Now, I don’t promise it will guarantee you a deal, but I can guarantee that it will work toward success 🀷

4- Connect before the demo

As we discussed right above, it is important humanize yourself early on πŸ€–

If you can’t show your potential buyers that you are an actual person who cares about helping them solve problems and achieve success, chances are, there will be prejudice.

It is natural for new buyers to have some doubts as is, so by trying to break the ice before the actual demo, you can increase the chances of success exponentially.

So, when I say “connect”, I mean in an emotional way, not just emailing. 

Make sure to “connect” with your buyer, their problems, goals, and desires to get a headstart. 

5- Leave a good first impression

If you’ve managed to handle the best practice above, you should have no trouble making a good first impression.

Some pointers in advance:

βœ… Introduce yourself and indulge in small talk,

βœ… Keep it simple, and make it clear that you are not taking up time or require effort,

βœ… Insert social proof early on, feed it into small talk if possible,

βœ… Break the ice before getting down to the serious part, then talk business

If the salesperson leading the demo is a true product champion, you should have no trouble impressing the prospective buyers and getting them to trust in your demonstration.

6- Start recording

Recording a software sales demo is a no-brainer, but doing it for the right purposes also matter.

By recording your software sales demo, you get to:

πŸ‘‰ Review the demo for upcoming connections with the customer,

πŸ‘‰ Share the recording with the prospective buyer for their review,

πŸ‘‰ Store data for the future,

And many other reasons.

One thing to keep in mind before starting a demo recording though, is to clearly tell your buyer that you will do a recording, or ask for their permission to record, stating all the benefits for both you and them.

7- Talk about demo goals & start asking the right questions

As you start the demo, it is also important to lay out a clear schedule or agenda for the customer to be able follow along and know for sure that their time is not wasted.

A typical 30-minute demo agenda can consist of:

βœ… Introduction – Who are they, who are you?

βœ… Value proposition – What can you do for them? How is your solution be the solution for them?

βœ… Product demonstration – How does your solution works? How can it solve their specific problems?

βœ… Q&A – How can you answer each question with a value-mindset?

βœ… Wrap up – How can you finish powerfully, and summarize all important points?

Make sure to follow your script loosely but try to keep up closely with the agenda.

Dividing each section into minutes can actually help and sharing this with the prospect can get you extra credits for minding time management.

Use your time and agenda wisely 🧠

And while you’re at it, use your words wisely as well: the right questions can make a big difference between choosing to buy and walking away.

The point is to direct them toward finding the aha moment by themselves rather than shoving your value proposition into the face of your buyers πŸ’‘

8- Shape the script as you go

As I just said, your demo agenda has to be pretty straightforward and following it can actually help greatly.

Though there are times you might need to scrap the agenda completely from time to time (very rarely, believe me), there will always be points and sections in your script that might need to be changed as you go.

So, it is important that your script is as flexible as possible.

If you use the script as an actual script that needs to be memorized or read along, you leave zero space for change.

Which is something the potential customers will definitely require.

If you haven’t taken a look at our sales demo script example, jump there right here πŸ‘ˆ

9- Double down on value & prospect pain points

After the introductions and right before the actual product demonstration, there will be a window for value proposition where you can openly take all the customer data and match it with your solution to demonstrate how it can change the buyer’s life.

At this point, one thing to avoid is to blindly talk about your product with no relevance whatsoever to the customer’s pain points.

To make sure you don’t fall into that pitfall, make sure to:

πŸ‘‰ Research what the buyer might need before the demo,

πŸ‘‰ Detect their specific industry, company size, tool stack, and more, if possible,

πŸ‘‰ Decide on a set of pain points they might be suffering from, confirm these during the intro stage if you haven’t during the discovery call,

πŸ‘‰ Connect pain points to use cases, success stories, testimonials, and other social proof,

πŸ‘‰ Show how your product might be of use through these pain points, use cases, and social proof

By making use of all that’s available to you for doubling down on your value proposition, you make it more likely that your buyer will have a clearer view on your benefits and why they should go with you.

10- Get your hands on it

Once the buyer’s pain points are linked to your product’s value, it is time to get your hands on the product to actually showcase the product in action.

At this point, one of the worst mistakes to make can be focusing too much on features and doing a product walkthrough instead of an interactive product demo.

So, instead of depending on demo slides and demo videos that can very easily complicate your demo, it can be a great practice to actually open the product, share your screen, and get down to it.

And if you play your cards right, you just might go straight into best practices instead of showing off the basics of the product.

How?

Let’s take a look at:

Pro Tip: Amp Up Demo with Automated User Onboarding πŸ€–

Let’s be honest.

Not all SaaS products start their customer journeys with a demo.

There are free trials, free versions or freemiums, and there are even no-demo products.

But if you are in the 54% using freemium as a business plan, or if you offer a free trial like the 75% of the SaaS industry, you might want to make sure your users get the proper product demonstration even without a sales rep involved.

An automated user onboarding can help.

UserGuiding is a digital adoption and user onboarding solution that requires no code (at all) to create beautiful user onboarding processes with ease and without breaking the bank.

Here’s a quick onboarding sequence I created for ClickUp in under 5 minutes:

userguiding automated demo

UserGuiding can help you create:

βœ… Interactive guides, product tours, and walkthroughs,

βœ… User onboarding checklists,

βœ… Hotspots, tooltips, in-app messages,

βœ… Resource centers,

βœ… NPS surveys, and more;

All powered with powerful analytics, high customization, user segmentation and targeting.

πŸ‘‰ Give it a try, for FREE πŸ‘ˆ

11- Make it conversational, not controversial

An interactive demo can make all the difference, and it doesn’t always require for the buyer to be able to play around with your product in real time.

Some small talk as you move along the demo can do the trick.

So, to avoid making your buyer lose interest and make your demo one big monologue, get talking.

This also allows your product champion to be perceived more human, approachable, and apart form the brand-identity (might sound bad, but it can be necessary for trust), which are the primary elements of a successful deal.

Remember: only 3% say that they find sales people trustworthy.

To make a sale, go beyond your identity as a salesperson and embrace the title of product champion, someone who knows how to use the product at hand really well.

12- Ask for feedback

As you approach the end of your sales demo agenda, you might want to do a Q&A stage, which is highly recommended and is the topic of a separate article.

For our best practice, however, it is important that you ask some questions throughout the demo as well.

These questions can include:

πŸ‘‰ Are you currently considering other solutions?

πŸ‘‰ What do you think we do better or worse than other solutions?

πŸ‘‰ What brought you to consider our solution and why now?

πŸ‘‰ Do you have any suggestions for our solution? What can we add or change?

πŸ‘‰ Did you find value in this demo, would you change anything about it?

And other questions depending on your product, team, and approach to sales demos.

What matters is to make sure the questions you ask don’t necessarily get your buyer to doubt your solution’s competence and are actually actionable for you later on.

13- Secure next connection with immediate follow-up

Ideally before the demo is over, you will have the time to talk about the follow-up process and the next steps in the buyer’s journey with your product.

You can bring the demo to that point easily during the closeup.

However the demo goes, it is best to have a tailored follow-up email for each scenario sent right after the demo.

Note also that the days and sometimes weeks after the demo can be the most crucial time period for making a decision for the internal buying teams of your potential customers.

Keep the connection alive during this period and check up periodically without spamming.

You know where to draw the line πŸ™Œ

To Wrap Up…

Software sales demos are complex sales processes in the B2B buying journey and turning demos into deals can work very differently for very different companies and products.

Though a business’s specific sales methodologies and ideal customer profile might change drastically, there are certain best practices that can help avoid a bad demo.

Be it a technical demo or a high-level demo, it is not a perfect demo before certain elements are established.

Hope this article gave you an adequate glimpse at how to nail a software sales demo.

Best of luck!


Frequently Asked Questions


How do you do a sales demo?

A sales demo in the traditional sense revolves around showing off a product, but in reality, what turns demos into deals is a stern focus on value and leading your prospects to see this for themselves by asking the right questions.


What should a software demo include?

A software sales demo must include a good intro, hands-on product use for an easier aha moment, a Q&A section, feedback, and a closeup focused on securing the next step in the buyer’s journey.


How do I make a software demo?

To create your own software demo, start by defining your product and ideal buyer profiles. Upon this inspection, you can create a demo script which you can use as a guideline during the software sales demo.


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Serra Alban

Serra Alban

When I realized I won’t be the next Greta Gerwig I found myself as a creative content writer at UserGuiding. I’ve been obsessed with UX design, customer success, and digital adoption ever since. If you could stare at good UX for hours like me don’t hesitate to hit me up on LinkedIn. I might end up dropping too much movie trivia but hey, old habits die hard.