Why is it always the last sales demo before a holiday?
This has happened to me twice now. Both times in a moment of weakness. The last calendar commitment before OOO and a few days off.
Let me set the scene further. What we’re talking about here is a first proper conversation with a target. Someone who is in-persona, has a need, has come in through demand generation routes and has agreed to be booked in for an introductions call.
If we’ve got our positive pants on, this next sales demo could be ‘the’ lead. This could be the start of what turns into a major client, a multi-year contract and an eternity of unicorns falling from the sky.
Yes, this could be good. But equally, it could be a total shambles. Why is that? Because the story of sales rarely runs smoothly. And why is that? Because my friends, we are dealing with people. And people … they do things, the kind of things you don’t plan for.
In the heat of the moment, speed feels like your friend.
In general terms with BD, speed is your friend. When we are thinking about leads and follow up then pace is important. Letting a lead go cool because of your own actions is seriously not good.
However, there are moments in sales where slowing down rather than speeding up is the right path.
Let me explain. In this final sales demo, before putting on the out of office for a few days, all the classic things happen. Two people turn up on time into Teams. You wait for the others just to the point it gets uncomfortable and then someone suggests ‘we should just crack on.’ Then, midway through their Director doing her intro, three other team members turn up. And so the intro’s start again, usually with someone dropping off and someone else’s bluetooth cutting out because their phone is ringing. And then, just at the point where you think you might have things back under control, the key person on the call suddenly announces they only have 15 minutes before they have to leave early for some sort of super-critical internal strategy doodah.
So, we now have everyone here. We’ve done the niceties. And the big dog says 15 minutes is all you are going to get.
What do you do?
You could attempt to rearrange the sales demo. But it’s taken considerable time to get this group assembled. Do you want to run that risk of losing them altogether?
Or do you ‘go for it?’ And attempt to use that 15 minutes to wow the pants off them. I’ll be honest with you folks, tired Stu (the one who could see the holiday just out of reach), he went for the 15 minute hero route.
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Packing it all into a short time just doesn’t work
So my friends. In the heat of the moment, we decide to go for it. What happens next?
Well, it probably goes something like this. You attempt to compress the introduction and in doing so completely fail in telling the backstory. In doing so, we instantly chuck in the bin all the good stuff which grabs peoples attention and makes them feel emotionally in tune with what the business sets out to do.
Next, you go into a highlights demo. You’re on the screen share, frantically picking out the killer features with a complete disregard as to what is the relevant use case for the good people on the other side of the screen. What does this mean? It means we fall into the horrible trap of selling the sausage, not the sizzle.
Then, rather than having some considered questions and quality qualification time, there is only a few minutes left so you take a flyer at what you assume is the client’s issue and zero in on a couple of key points a little bit deeper and in double quick time.
Chances of this working? Pretty minimal.
What was a decent lead has now been talked ‘at’ for 15 minutes and is likely wanting to get off the call as quickly as possible. You have got no further forward in understanding their needs or qualifying them in or out. All you have done is feature spam.
And then the big dog duly leaves, leaving you with the others. There’s still 35 minutes on the clock so what now? Most likely a meandering sales demo with no real intent and probably one with people at the other end doing their emails on screen two while only half paying attention.
And when it finally comes to a sorry end and everyone waves their goodbyes, do you think you are getting that follow up meeting? Exactly.
It’s time for plan B
What about a different approach? What if instead of trying to pack it all in, we take a deep breath, acknowledge the situation and change our game plan to a more modest goal.
“Ok, I understand we only have a short period of time. Instead of just blundering into a demo, could you tell me just one thing that each of you would like to learn about today.”
… get some answers
“That’s really interesting <pick up on one of their answers which you know is similar to existing clients> can you tell me what is the challenge you are seeing in your business that made you say that?”
… now we have a focus
“Ok how about this. Instead of doing a general tour, let’s use the 15 minutes today to explore how we tackle X. And in 15 minutes time, if you agree you can see potentially how that could be useful to you, then we can book a further discussion.’
… chances are they are going to agree.
Now we are back in a good place. We can spend the time slowly and properly going through just that topic. We can take our time, we can use all the tools in the sales box and we can tease out some discussion from others as to why they also find this particular issue a difficult one.
Are you nodding along while reading this?
Teach, tailor, then take control
After some good discussion but with perhaps 1 or 2 minutes to go, take control of the conversation and make a point that time is nearly up. Refer back to the earlier commitment about a next call.
“Earlier on we agreed, if you were finding this relevant it would worth booking in a proper session when we’re not so pressured for time. Would you object to us setting that up?
It would be a pretty hard nosed person to give you a straight out no in front of their colleagues at the point. We have a long way from the earlier potential jump off point of asking for a re-arrange right at the beginning and before any real interest has been piqued.
How we close it from here? Read the temperature in the room. It could be a rebook on the spot for ‘same time next week’ or more likely a follow up with the key organiser on their side to get this back in diaries. Whichever route you take, now is the moment to re-engage the pace and get the call booked and accepted straight away.
So next time, do as I write, not as I did. And I’ll try and do the same. Deep breath, resist the temptation to go for the fast explanation and instead steer the conversation into a niche where you know you can shine.
But if you can, try not to book calls in the last 3 hours before you get away for a few days. And if you do, switch Bluetooth off on your phone.
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