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Context is Key: Why SEs Need Discovery for Effective Demos

 min read
How Demo Automation and Curiosity Science Revolutionize Sales Demos (2)

In the world of sales, demos are a powerful tool for showcasing a product's capabilities and closing deals. However, when SEs aren't involved in the discovery process, demos can fall flat, failing to resonate with the customer's specific needs and leaving potential sales on the table.

According to a study by LinkedIn, 56% of decision-makers are likely to consider the brand's product/services if the salesperson is well aware of their needs and challenges before presenting solutions. This highlights the importance of the discovery process for effective demos, as it provides valuable insights into the customer's pain points and requirements.

In this article, we'll explore the role of discovery in creating effective product demos that ultimately close more deals. We'll also look at why context is the key element for SEs to tailor their demos based on customers' specific needs, build trust and credibility, and differentiate.

Whether you're a seasoned sales engineer or just starting, understanding the importance of discovery in demos can up your sales game. So, let's dive in and explore how to make your demos more effective through a thorough discovery process.

Importance of presales in discovery for creating effective demos:

One of the most critical factors in creating effective demos is the level of involvement of presales teams in the discovery process. Without a sufficient discovery, sales engineers may not have the information they need to create demos that resonate with customers. This can lead to ineffective demos that don't show enough value

Sales engineers play a critical role in creating effective demos. But, they need sufficient information about the customer's needs, pain points and desired outcome. Missing a question in discovery could change what use cases or even products are needed.

The discovery process allows sales engineers to,

  • Identify the customer's pain points

  • Ask the right questions to find the issues, impact & cause

  • Propose solutions that align with the customer's specific requirements

As a sales engineer, you may be asked to demo without being involved in the discovery process. In this scenario, you may not have the information to create a demo that’s substantial enough. It leaves you struggling to demonstrate the product and risk brand damage.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn to confirm how often Sales Engineers have insufficient information when asked to demo. 200+ SEs answered the poll and the results were shocking:

Sales Engineers Survey

Source: LinkedIn

The poll focuses on the NEED from the customer. Their specific pain points, requirements and desired outcomes.

According to the survey, 66% of sales engineers stated that they had insufficient information to create effective demos 40% of the time or more when not involved in the discovery process.

Some respondents reported as high as 75%, indicating the significant impact that a lack of involvement in discovery can have on the effectiveness of demos.

Furthermore, at times they may even need to push back on the request for a demo if they feel that they do not have enough information about the customer's needs and pain points. Alternatively, they may need to reach out to the customer to seek clarification on specific requirements, which can delay the demo process.

Why context is the holy grail for SEs to create winning demos?

Context helps shift the focus from the product to the prospect's needs. By demonstrating how the product can solve the prospect's specific challenges and meet their goals, the sales team can create a more meaningful conversation, and build trust. Based on the poll results mentioned earlier, only 15% of SEs seem to have this under control, having insufficient information for 10-20% of the demos. 

While a disco demo may work for certain products, it's important not to confuse it with a demo without context. The focus of the poll was on demos where a clear expectation had been set after a discovery call, but a lack of context or background was provided to the SE.

Sales engineers who are thrown into demos without proper context are not set up for success. At best, they may be able to wing it and show enough value to the customer to continue the conversation. However, at worst, they risk damaging the brand with a demo that fails to hit home due to a lack of personalization.

Enterprise vendors often have many solutions, and without proper context, SEs may not even be able to narrow down the right product, let alone the specifics.

But what's the cause behind SEs thrown into no-context demos?

A few factors could be contributing to this problem:

  1. Losing Information in Transit:

    Information can easily get lost between discovery by reps and SEs. This results in duplication of effort, with presales needing to engage and perform discovery again.

  2. Covering Multiple Products isn’t Easy:

    Some reps cover many products and it’s easy to miss a question here and there. In an ideal world we would have all the facts, but it isn't the case all of the time.

By investing in a thorough discovery process and ensuring proper information transfer between reps and SEs, enterprise vendors can reduce the risk of losing deals and building long-term relationships with their customers.

Discovery questioning: For SEs to get the context right

Discovery questioning is a critical component of the sales process, especially for sales engineers. It provides context to the SEs, enabling them to tailor their pitch and demo to the customer's specific needs.

Let's take a scenario where you are an SE specializing in data security and you’re asked to create a demo on “how we can protect data for the company”. At times, this is the only context that you get, that’s quite a challenge to create! This can add confusion, and delays and lengthen the sales cycle.

Read: How to Reduce Sales Cycle (5 Top Tips For SaaS Companies)

Good discovery questions for this case would look like this:

  1. Where is the data stored? (Filesystem / Office 365 / G-Drive / SQL server / Snowflake etc.)

  2. Is this production or non-production?

  3. Does ‘protect’ refer to moving data to a secure repository, remediating access or encrypting the data?

  4. If encryption is needed, is dynamic or static masking needed?

"Protect" can mean many things. This is where the discovery process comes in. By asking the right questions and gathering the necessary information. However, if even one of the questions isn't answered, the entire demo could completely miss the mark.

Discovery also helps sales engineers to identify potential roadblocks or objections that may arise during the sales process. By anticipating these objections, sales engineers can proactively address them and build trust with the customer.

What are the possible solutions to improve demo effectiveness?

As it is clear that the discovery process plays a crucial role in creating effective demos. Here are some possible solutions,

1. Ensure Presales Involvement in Every Discovery Call:

One of the most effective ways to ensure that demos are relevant to the prospect is to involve presales in every discovery call. However, this can lead to scaling issues as presales resources are often overstretched. To mitigate this, companies can look into ways to optimize their presales resources, such as investing in tools or technology that can automate certain aspects of the process.

2. Reject/Postpone Every Demo Until Proper Discovery is Done:

Another option is to reject or postpone every demo until proper discovery is done. This requires more rigid rules and enforcement by leadership on both sales and presales teams. While this can be effective in ensuring that demos are tailored to the prospect's specific needs, it can lead to issues when it's difficult to get the required stakeholders from the customer side available. Moreover, it may not be a scalable solution in the long run.

3. Leverage Demo Automation:

One of the innovative solutions to ensure efficiency is demo automation. A scalable solution that can help enterprises provide instant time to value and personalized experience while minimizing the strain on presales resources.

This involves creating a personalized demo within minutes after completing a quick questionnaire. By doing so, buyers get a personalized experience based on their persona and the issues they face.

Additionally, the questionnaire can pick up key use cases and specifics about their environment and challenges, which can be a great discovery aid for any future follow-up demos. This gathers key information so that presales have what they need for any follow-up live demos.

Demo automation tools to scale your growth

Automated demos are not here to replace presales but empower them with efficiency and focus on buyer enablement. However, one of the most scalable solutions for your presales and sales use case is Demoboost. A leader in demo automation space that focuses on enhancing buyer engagement through its progressive and easy-to-use platform.

Final Thoughts!

Creating effective demos using discovery as a method is crucial in today's business landscape. Companies need to prioritize the discovery process and invest in solutions that can optimize the process and provide personalized demos to prospects. By doing so, companies can build stronger relationships with prospects and increase the chances of closing deals.


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