This is a summary of the '6 habits of highly successful sales engineers' written by Chris White. This works for both acquisition and retention teams who are needing to demonstrate value to win and retain business.
Demo & Renewal and SBR Focus
The live demonstration is a critical step in the sales journey for a prospect. From the marketing and sales efforts, the cost to bring a single prospect to the point where a live demo is possible would shock most people. Every live demo must be treated like the expensive, significant opportunity that it truly is.
It takes a team effort to qualify, prepare, practice, perform, and perfect the Finch demo. This guide will help you understand the steps and impact you have on the qualification and demo process, so we can achieve repeated technical wins.
Understanding the Journey
It is important that we remember why we are preparing for a demo. We want the sales win — or what we call the ‘technical win’ — in order to grow our business. Bad business costs the company more money in the long run, steals resources, and ends up costing us even more in bad referrals.
Getting the technical win must be a balance of proper business and technical qualification of the customer by us. Do we truly understand the customer needs or outcomes? Can we solve the problem they have? Do we understand not only what drives today’s success metrics, but how can we ensure that we get the renewal win as well? Remember that the sales win should be the first of many renewal wins if we follow this guide.
The demo academy program will focus on building our pre-sales and post-sales teams' ability to properly communicate the Finch value, work with the customer to qualify business and technical needs, and prepare a demonstration that quickly defines what is possible and how we can achieve successful outcomes.
Six Habits to Demo & Renewal / SBR Nirvana
Well, maybe not ‘nirvana,’ but when you get the technical win it sure feels good. The Demo Academy Best Practice Guide is built around industry-standard concepts and best practices. Chris White from DemoDoctor.com has built out The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers to help teams like ours elevate our game.
The habits are very simple. The goal is not to over-complicate or over-think our process. We must perfect our game, be confident in our team and product, and truly understand the needs of our current and potential customers.
You should be familiar with these habits after reading the book, watching the on-line training course, and taking The Six Habits of Highly Successful Sales Teams training. These are the six habits that Chris teaches:
- Finch technical product training
- Finch standard customer demo script workflow
- Clear understanding of the customer buying journey and team
- Negotiating with give/get value sales methodology training
You can’t fake knowing the product or skip the qualification work needed to validate that we have the right kind of prospect, we are talking to the decision-maker, and most importantly we can solve the customer need year after year. To truly build and perform a product demonstration that has a chance to achieve a technical win, you must have all four parts working together.
Product knowledge + Finch demo foundation + Sales qualification + Demo preparation
Demo (Renewal & SBR) Objectives
Sprinkled within each of the habits, you will hear getting the technical win as one of the main demo objectives. We want this, we need this, and with this guide, we will have more bell ringing and smiles on Finch team members’ faces.
For the demo, we want to confirm that we are the ‘right fit’ for the customer needs, validate our qualifications for good business, and reduce the time needed to get a deal signed. As mentioned before, getting a prospect to the demo stage costs a lot of money. The time and energy you put into properly following these six habits will ensure that you are ready to ‘knock the socks off’ your prospect.
1 - Partner: Partnership & Roles
Sales is a team sport. It takes multiple people and engagements to help move a potential customer along the sales journey. Get one or two steps wrong and you lose the chance to become the trusted advisor and seal the deal.
Example of key roles that support the sales journey must embrace a couple of concepts: we might not have all these today but understand the roles each player makes in the success path
- If you help with demos, new business, or renewals, you are in a revenue focused role.
- Pre-sales and Post-sales take different approaches and skillsets, but the core outcome or objective is still the technical win / technical renewal.
Every member of our win team (AE, SP, CSM, SAM) needs to be able to demo the product in the right way by following the six habits and Finch best practices. We need everyone able to use our product to help improve and make sure to understand how customers use our product to solve their needs.
The partnership between the AE, SP, CSM, and SAM is what will secure the trusted advisor role, qualify our product as the right fit, and land the technical win. The AE+SP+CSM+SAM must be a strong team to build out the right demo story and work together to deliver a great performance.
On the flip side of the journey the CSM, SAM, and SP must also work as a strong team to help our customers achieve their objectives, continue to hit success metrics, and capture the renewal win for the customer and for our company.
2 - Probe: Technical Qualification
In Salesforce the AE+SP will be linked to the new opportunity. Under the Details tab you will see both the Demo Preparation Checklist that covers the flow of this document, and the Give-Get Insights section. As the ADR+AE sits down to review the potential customer details, it is crucial that the team ensures we have the right answers to both the business and technical questions that have been captured. This is a key step in your ability to understand the prospect, the needs, the players, the technical parameters, and the objectives to build a deal-winning demonstration.
Since the first habit is Partnership, the AE+SP+CSM must spend time defining and agreeing on the key insights you will use to build out your demo story in step 3. This is the time you must ask the needed questions to ensure you can build, practice, and perform a demonstration that will get the customer to the WOW moment.
With our company focusing on larger ICP customers we must take the time to prepare. Do not blindly jump into a demo request without understanding the drivers of success. If you don’t have the business or technical details to be successful, STOP, and figure out how to get them. If necessary, schedule a technical call to get the answers you need. Only then can you build out a demo story that ensures a technical win can happen.
3 - Prepare
With the demo, you have one shot to get it right, so go in armed with the tools you need to be successful. The Finch demo is becoming defined, with a comprehensive guide that includes suggested script elements, videos, and demo resources you can re-use to shorten the preparation time.
A great demo will make the prospect sit up and take notice. When we can demonstrate the power of Finch Evolve, they will see that our product is hands-down the best solution in the market. We bait them with our story, but we set the hook by speaking to the prospect’s needs and showing use cases that are relevant. This can only happen if the AE+SP+CSM takes the prospect on a journey where the only answer remaining is, "Where do I sign?”.
All demos use the demo environment….yet to be build out
We have created a worksheet for all teams to use as a guide while you build out your demo story. The worksheet is crafted to cover and align to the demo flow, but you have to craft your demo story based on the qualification details, technical needs, players in the room, the key use cases, and the clear customer needs and outcomes.
Create a shared sheet from the demo worksheet link below so you and your team can work together to build the needed insights for a strong validation for the prospect. When done, save a copy of the worksheet to your active Salesforce opportunity so we can review it in our monthly won/loss process. This is a key process step for the global sales and engineering team.
Link to Demo Worksheet (WIP but good, move to Hubspot playbook)
(updated but needs to be reviewed and updated by the AE and SP team)
4 - Practice: Your Demo (Renewal & SBR) Story
This seems like a simple idea, but the last thing you want is to be surprised. Things will always happen during demos, but taking as much unknown out of the mix as possible is what practice will help ensure. Clicking all the buttons, running through your script, recording your session, and role-playing with your AE are all things you can do to ensure success.
Do and Don’t Demo Considerations
As you practice your demo story, remember to consider areas that have caused issues in the past. We all have good days and bad, it is part of the game. Work as a team to shorten your ‘don’t’ list and increase your ‘do’ list. From the Chris White book and training, remember to make the practice harder than the game, or in our case, the customer demo. Challenge each other, poke holes in the logic, keep asking ‘so what’ until you nail the intro, the wow moments, the objectives, and the close. Here are a few things to consider as you work to improve the demo performance.
- Know the success metrics, needs, and must-haves for the demo
- Know the audience and the key players
- Negotiate time to build and practice a great demo
- Agree with on the Demo Story as a team, flow, and key needs to cover
- Know your use case examples that will resonate with the prospect
- Know your WOW moments and get there quickly
- Build-in pauses and places to validate if you are hitting the mark
- Start with the end in mind, outline the objectives, confirm, and then start your demo
- Slow down
- Take notes and plan to follow-up quickly
- Be product proud
- Be enthusiastic
- Be yourself, be real and honest
- Make it a conversation
- Expect questions, plan for them, you want them, if you are not getting them stop, confirm
- Practice when you go off present mode and go back to video mode
- Practice using the ‘qualified yes’ when confronted with product limitations or config issues
- Say No, this will help validate all your Yes’s, just make sure it is used at the right spot
- Plan for issues, define your ways to speak to issues, and ensure your demo partner will step in
- Practice the mini-close of your closing
- Go in blind without knowing the customer use case, qualification details, needs
- Go in without knowing the player types, audience technical level, decision-maker
- Go in without a demo story and plan
- Go in without practicing and clicking every button
- Just start your demo without framing the objectives and goals
- Rush through the demo without stopping and asking for questions and validation
- Use terminology that is wrong for the audience, or acronyms
- Blame the product for issues or shortcomings, or make excuses
- Be monotone and without excitement, don’t be a robot
- Say No without confirming understanding of the questions
- Say Yes to everything
- Forget to thank the room for the time
- Forget to take notes and outline the follow-up
Part of practicing is to get used to handling problems as they come up. Create a ‘What if’ outline as part of your AE+SP+CSM Story. Agree with your partner that they will step in to direct the audience while the issue is being addressed. If you get an error — and you will, it’s software — that is ok, be honest and outline what you think is happening. What you expected to happen, and when in doubt, take one for the team, “Not sure what I did...this is what I was expecting to happen.” Never toss the product under the bus. Our product and team are the best in the industry.
Just a reminder, we like robots but we do not want you to be a robot on the demo. The AE+SP+CSM team needs to excite the prospect by showing understanding of their needs and how we can solve the customer’s specific problems. In the performance step we will talk more about how you ‘set, game, match’ your demo to ensure success.
5 - Perform: General Guidance
You have used the checklist to build a great demo story, you have practiced, and now it is time to perform. Yes, it is a performance. You might think that the product is the star of the show, but the star of the show needs to be the customer. The AE+SP+CSM partnership plays a leading role in the demo experience to achieve this outcome. Remember that this is not just a product sale but a partnership sale, we want to earn the right to be the trusted advisor.
Know your Role in the Room
During a demo, there are specific roles that our SP, AE, and CSM need to do over and above the delivery of the demo and managing the agenda.
Specifically while one team member is leading the presentation the other roles, like the AE should always be cognizant of people on the video, taking notes, listening for questions, reading body language — e.g., knowing when you may have lost the audience, or someone needs the example further clarified or picking up that someone has a question or has just realized something of importance. Pause and ask them to expand on the idea.
The role of AE during the demo is to observe the audience as a whole—gently alerting the SP or CSM that people in the room may require clarification. If a point needs reinforcing, work that into the discussion. Help direct the conversation by stepping in to asking open ended questions or if issues arise direct the conversation to allow your SP and CSM to address the issue.
The SP, CSM, and AE need to be in harmony to identify a need in the audience. Always practice prior to the demonstration and ensure that you are both aware of each other, when to pause, who is going to ask a leading question, who is going to close the demo, etc.
Know Your Technology and Use It
As web meetings are the norm make sure you and your team know how to use your remote meeting tool. As you prepare to start the meeting make sure you have all your sessions/tabs up and ready to go. As part of the meeting kick-off, frame out how you will use the tools—for example, let the prospect know they can ask questions by speaking up, raising their hands, or posting a question in the chat.
Encourage your audience to turn on their video. Find a friendly, persuasive approach that works for you. We want their attention for 30-45min, we have to make sure we pause for questions, stop the demo and go to video, etc.
As part of your demo practice, don't forget to use the same systems you will be using during the demo so you can work out any potential problems. Don’t leave all the meeting ownership to the AE — it is a team effort.
When one person is presenting, it is the role of the other to take notes and capture any action items, follow-ups, or concerns with the direction the demo has gone for later review.
Is there a compelling event by which time the customer must have this implemented, or can we create a compelling event? Compelling events are time-critical and can have value give/gets associated with them, so make sure to uncover or enable a compelling event within the demo story — e.g., a customer event, the launch of a new product, or solving the business need focused on risk, revenue, or efficiency. This should all be outlined in your demo story, but if the demo gets pulled in a different direction, make sure to cover the compelling event and our key product ‘Wow’ items so these elements get validated. Confirm with the prospect that the demo objectives are hitting home and have been met.
There are no Bad Questions and You Don’t Need to Know Everything
During a demo there will be “Good Questions” that you may be unable to answer at the time. Stay focused, don’t chase questions that take you away from the demo objective unless the key stakeholder(s) in the room needs an answer that can validate the technical win. If not, park the question if you know you are going to cover the answer later in the demo. Your demo partner will take notes and you can follow-up later in the demo, or after, as needed. Use the 4 Quadrants approach outlined in the Chris White training.
Master the Qualified Yes
Make sure to dig deeper into the ‘why’ of questions if you are unsure of the use case. Jumping right to No or Yes can box you into a corner if you do not have all the information. If you are hit with a question that is focused on an area of our product that is weaker than others, take the time to ask more qualifying questions to validate the use case.
Using “Yes, but…” is a way to validate the question and outline the area we might be weak in, but highlight how we can work around the issue. On the flip side, don’t lie. If we are truly not a fit, say “No.” A good No in the right area of the demo will help to validate all your Yes’s.
Remember, a Confused Mind Always Says “NO”
You have a small amount of time to grab the prospect’s attention, get to the WOW, validate their use cases, and have a bit of fun. You both must ensure you are taking your demo participants on the same journey—making sure they are experiencing the same outcomes.
Build-in your validation stopping points and confirm, “Is this making sense? Can you see this use case solving your business needs?” If the answer is “No,” stop, and dig into where you are missing the mark. Powering through the demo to check all the feature boxes is not going to ensure a win — it will do the exact opposite. You must check that the customer is ‘getting it’ — that they are understanding the power of Finch, and that they are seeing what is possible.
Closing the Demo
Make sure you define your closing process. You don’t want to just end and have the room get up and leave the virtual meeting. For example, thank the participants, restate the objectives, define any new discoveries, use cases, and needs. See if you can validate the use case examples focused on reducing cost, increasing revenue, and taking risk away. You don’t want to try to close the deal at the end of the demo — that will come later if you nailed the demo.
Send a thank you email with any updates and links to additional information. Work to schedule a connection summary call with your key contact to gather feedback—any areas that hit home or missed the mark, and what additional details can be provided to allow the buying team to see the value of Finch.
6 - Perfect: Post-Demo (Renewal & SBR) Feedback
We are going to win some and lose some — that is how sales works. We can do a lot to learn and improve by spending time asking ourselves some direct questions on how we did as a team. This is not the time to phone it in if we want to improve our demo game. This is the Demo Academy, a place to sharpen our skills and share what we are learning with our global team so we can all improve.
Post Demo Debrief and Follow Up
Schedule time to review the demo, dig into what went right, and what could have been better. Did the WOW moments land? What new discoveries came up? What demo prep items got missed, or should have been done differently. How well did you both perform?
Follow up within 24 hrs—no later—with a summary of the demo, highlighting any actions with associated timelines, providing any follow-up answers to “Good Questions,” and addressing any issues you think a specific audience member may have missed.
Under the details area of the new business opportunity you will find the Demo Score & Feedback section that covers the worksheet flow. Score how you did under each of the key preparation sections. Scores are 1 = not so good, 2 = good, 3 = nailed it. Use the summary sections to outline what worked and what needs work so we can share these details with the regional and global team in our won and loss opportunity review.
Hubspot deal fields to come - something like the below example
Demo Customer Feedback
If the AE has been able to connect with the key prospect contact and can gather feedback on the demo — what the buying team thought, etc. — then you should share these as part of your team debrief.
We will have these additional opportunities to gather customer and team insights depending on how the sales process goes.
- Won / Loss opportunity closed feedback captured and updated in the SF Opportunity.
- Won / Loss internal team review that will look at the sales process and demo process as a whole using the closed outcome and demo outcome details
- New customer Onboarding Kick-off Project survey has sales-focused questions on the process to answer if we win the deal, and this is passed on to the insights team.
Update your Hubspot Deal Plan – Dates, Next Steps,
Having observed the audience during the presentation, update your account plan and buyer types across the room. E.g., what role was each person playing, and overall, what buyer type are they? Did anything change with the buying team or players? Have you altered our position as a result of the presentation, and if so,what is the change in your strategy and next steps?
Don’t forget to validate if this prospect is still ‘good business’ for Finch. Should we move on or pass to a partner? Good luck on your next demo!
Give / Gets Strategy
- Build out this concept and model with the team, what can we give and what is a good list of gets