Your sales demo is often a prospects first look into your SaaS product. It's also a focused opportunity to tell your story, build the benefits of your offering and start a relationship. In this episode, Aaron and Darren discuss their sales demos in depth and look at where they can keep improving to land more customers.
FULL SHOW NOTES:
00:02 Aaron Weiche: Episode 13: Running a Great Sales Demo.
00:06 INTRO: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses shared in each episode. From Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.
00:32 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.
00:36 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.
00:37 AW: And this week, we are gonna dive into what goes in to running a great sales demo. How do you demo your SaaS product and break down a number of aspects regarding that. A very important piece really, I view it as kind of the absolute cornerstone and the biggest value prop within the sales process. And we'll break that down but first, Darren, let's play a little bit of catchup. What have you been up to lately?
01:08 DS: What have I been up to? Well, lately, I've done a couple auto dealer conferences, I had one in beautiful Banff, Alberta so right in the Rocky Mountains there. That was fantastic.
01:19 AW: That place, I have not physically been there but every time I have a friend go there, and they post their photos to Facebook, I'm like, "That place cannot be real."
01:27 DS: It's insane, it's so beautiful and it is like... The conference was held at the Banff Springs Hotel, which is basically this amazing castle in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. It's so beautiful. So yeah, it was wonderful, I brought the family, we drove down and spent a few days there, the conference was easy, I spoke to a bunch of auto dealers about getting the most out of Google My Business, and it's been nice 'cause I have this run. So I did the one in Banff and I just got back from Montreal, also a fantastic Canadian city. I did another auto dealer conference in Montreal for a brand called Kijiji. They have this thing, Kijiji Autos. And then I go tomorrow to fly to Vegas for DrivingSales Executive Summit, which is another auto dealer conference. I'm now officially the new Greg Gifford of local search.
02:25 AW: And Vegas, Vegas baby!
02:27 DS: Yeah, that's right. All I'm doing is auto dealer conferences, it's just been like this string of three in a row, but it's nice 'cause then you can use the same deck, right? So that's fantastic.
02:36 AW: Yeah. Well, when we go to promote this podcast, I'm definitely gonna put out a tweet that says there's a new Greg Gifford of the auto industry, and that will quickly catch his attention. That's awesome.
02:45 DS: Definitely. Yeah. So I've been dealing with that and that's over and I'll have a lot of free time not doing any more conference speaking probably until January, February, so that'll be nice to have this really good break where I can just be in the office focused on the business. We're building an API for our rank tracking software so a lot of people wanna just pull that data into their own systems or into Google Data Studio, so we're working on that. That should be done right away here, where we're putting the finishing touches.
We are also working on a revision of our Local Citation Finder software, it hasn't been updated in a long time. We've had new designs, actually a whole new system built on staging. It's been sitting for months while the team has been distracted with other things. And so once this API is out the door, we're shifting to get that thing done. So I'm excited about launching that.
03:41 DS: Another thing that we've been really working on is some customer service things. We've been reviewing our template reports. So if someone asks about this or that, we have these like, "Oh, well, here's some information on that," and then we often end it with like, "Well, please let us know if you have any more questions." And it's like, we really need to do a better job of being like, "When can I set up a demo?" That's a good question. "Can we jump on a call next week?" Being more proactive with encouraging that next step with a customer 'cause so many of our customer support requests that are coming in are actually sales leads, these are people that are like, "I'm interested in that service or product you have, I want some more information on pricing, or whatever." They give them the information, they're like, "High five. Good luck to you. Hopefully one day you become our customer." Rather than hoping for it, we're working on our language and especially how we're closing all those emails to move it to the next stage of the sales process. So I'm excited about that, too.
04:46 AW: Yeah, that singular question is actually just a buying signal that you need to capitalize on that like, "Yeah, here's the answer for that, but let's jump on a demo and take a look at things as a whole, as well as dive into your specific question."
05:00 DS: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. How about you? What's up?
05:02 AW: Oh, man, I have been wearing out runways around the country. I'm on the end of seven different conferences in six weeks. So yeah, between all those. I just got home yesterday from Philly. I was at a client's conference where I gave three talks in one day there, that was at least nice and concise, and I was only gone from home three days this week. Next week, I'm gone all week, Monday through Friday with three more talks.
It's one of those, it's like when I said yes to these, it's like one asked me in January, so I said yes to it in September, and then one asked me in March and so I said yes to it, and then a couple other things, a client travel sprinkles in and then a new conference pops in, it's like, "Oh, that'd be really great exposure." I have over-committed massively and I'm not gonna do this again, I've survived it and there's been a number of great things that come out of it, but when you are spending so much time creating different decks and customizing them and all those things, just way too much at once, I really made it hard on myself.
06:13 DS: Yeah, wow, that's a busy schedule. Packed it on. And then it's tough to manage all of the other stuff that's coming up in the business when you're traveling so much. I was like...
06:22 AW: Yep.
06:22 DS: I was feeling stressed for the last week just because like, "Ahh." You wanna be at the conference and talking to people, but your emails are piling up at the same time. You got all these employees that have questions for you and customers that have questions, so yeah, there's just a lot to deal with.
06:37 AW: Well, and the life balance with it, too. It's like, I have four kids, and so, I'm gone Monday through Friday. My wife, that's the real CEO in my house. She's getting everyone to their sports, all kinds of other things, whatever else. And then, when I'm getting home on the weekend, I'm so behind that I'm going into the office for full days on Saturday and Sunday, if not more. And so, I'm not getting quality times with the kids, I'm not helping my wife out. Yeah, so it's just one of those... Luckily, we have a couple of family getaways that I've promised I will be offline, I will be trying to make up... Let my kids remember they have a dad, and get caught up in that side of life. But it's a lot to balance, and I really... I gotta learn to say no. It's great to have those opportunities and to take advantage of them, but I do need to balance it out.
07:28 DS: So, are you working from home at all? Or are you mostly are in the office?
07:32 AW: I have an office that's all of 5 miles from my house. I need to have a focused space because with four kids, ... I have one in high school, one in junior high, one in elementary, and one not even in school yet, they're spread out everywhere. But my elementary aged daughter will come home... She gets home at 2:30 in the afternoon, and it's like, I still have three hours of work to put in. So yeah, I have to have a focused space, for sure.
08:01 DS: I have that, too. I work from home 100% of the time, I love working from home. And when my daughter gets home from school, I always love to take that... I try to time my coffee break, when I go downstairs and make myself a cup of coffee around when she gets home so I can hang out and just see her. And then I go to back to work. And she does a really good job of respecting my office. When Daddy's working, you gotta leave him alone. It works pretty good.
08:27 AW: Yeah, that's good. And good for you. One thing... I admire a ton of things about you professionally, and us being friends over the years, but you are such a good dad. I'm around you when we're on the road and I watch how you communicate with her and that you make time for calls with her. So, you could do a dad best practices podcast and completely...
08:48 DS: We should do that together 'cause honestly, I think the same thing about you. I'm always like, "You're my dad inspiration." I'm always ____ you're such a great dad, too.
08:58 AW: I have quantity going for me. [chuckle]
09:00 DS: Yeah. Well, maybe we'll just switch the SaaS Venture to be the Dad Venture. [chuckle] New podcast.
09:06 AW: Yeah. There you go. Well, maybe let's just do an episode sometimes that has to do with being a dad when you're trying to lead and grow a company. Both are very demanding jobs. Right?
09:16 DS: Yeah, being a parent while trying to run a company. That's a great, great episode, yeah. Alright, well...
09:22 AW: Alright, coming up.
09:23 DS: What else is going on? [chuckle]
09:26 AW: Yeah, well, one of the things in the middle of all this is, just two weeks ago, we had our company summit.
09:31 DS: Oh, yeah.
09:32 AW: All of our North American employees, which totals 13... Actually, would be... We just hired another customer success team member yesterday, we got our signed agreement, so excited about that. We had 14 of our team all together. This is the second year where we've brought them all into... They all fly into Minneapolis, and then we go about three hours north to a resort. Everybody is in two giant cabins. We eat every meal together, we do a lot of... 9:00 to 4:00, we do work stuff, but it's a lot more collaborative, exercises, ideas, things like that. And then, just getting to know each other when you fully work remote.
10:19 DS: Wow.
10:19 AW: It's one of my favorite weeks of the year. We have a great time, so many laughs, so many... The normal inside office jokes and banter that most people build on a daily basis, we jam all that into a week. We came out of it, we have a new currency in our office now, our product manager did an exercise where you had to buy features that are on our roadmap, and he made these... His name's Mark, and so he made these Mark bucks. Now, everything in our world... Our devs wanna turn Mark bucks into cryptocurrency. Yeah, we're trying to buy people off on things with Mark bucks. Somebody's going to Vegas with friends and we told them not to spend all their Mark bucks on the craps tables.
11:04 DS: That's smart.
11:05 AW: It's fun.
11:06 DS: For example, sales and customer support, they're always pushing for features. And so now, they have to spend their Mark bucks in order to move features up the priority list? Is that the concept?
11:17 AW: Yeah, that exercise is just really looking at, like, "Here's everything we have on our roadmap," and it was tied into year-end, like, "What can we get done in the year-end?" And he basically assigned like, "Here's what this item would cost." And then, the currency was limited, so you actually had to pool together with other people to get enough money to "buy that feature" get it done.
11:37 DS: That is so clever. I love that idea.
11:39 AW: Yes. It was a really great exercise. And that's just one example. Product had one of those, customer success had one of those, sales... We just had all these different things and just more interactive and fun ways to look at things, get everyone on the same page. Yeah, it's so good. I love our team, and to have that week together and to do so much together both professionally and personally, I have a ton of gratitude for it. It was a great time.
12:09 DS: Yeah, I wanna do that stuff. Alright, and what else? Anything else to report on the news when we talk about demos?
12:18 AW: Yeah, one last thing to put out there that I'm sure anyone building a SaaS product, especially when you're hooking into other platform services, things like that, we are waiting on such a small update with Facebook right now. We have the feature and we've had it in their hands to be able to reply to Facebook recommendations right out of GatherUp.
We already have a Facebook authorization for monitoring recommendations when they switched and they put recommendations behind a wall, which they have now sub-sequentially pulled out behind the wall. But then, when they added to their API the ability to reply to Facebook review/recommendations, we've added that in. And you have to update your apps with them and we have both our direct app and then the white label app. And it literally has been horrible back and forth. And so, this feature is done waiting in their approval process, and it's just sat there for weeks. And that's super frustrating when you do the work, you get it done and then you're just dependent on this outside party to be able to push it across.
13:28 DS: Totally, and it's such an important future for your business. All of your clients that wanna be able to reply to Facebook right within the customer activity feed, that, that's so valuable. Instead of that jumping off to Facebook every time, so yeah, I can see that that is frustrating.
13:44 AW: Yeah, it reminds me of what used to be really frustrating to me when I ran agencies is when we would build iOS apps and when you'd submit them to Apple, and then it could be four or five days, which would be a dream world when they approved it and it could go into the App Store, but depending upon their backlog and whatever else, you could totally end up with an app that you were done with, but three weeks later, it would finally hit the App Store, and that was just so frustrating.
14:10 DS: Yeah, totally. You're so excited, you're like, "Yeah, launch day. Oh, wait. Launch day in three weeks." Yeah.
14:15 AW: Yeah. Hold your bet. And that's what it is right now. Everyday, I'm asking my product manager, "Has Mark Zuckerberg emailed us yet?"
14:24 AW: And he's like, "No."
14:24 DS: Maybe you should try...
14:25 AW: And I'm like, "Can you... "
14:26 DS: To spend your Mark bucks. Send them over to...
14:27 AW: Exactly! I was gonna say, "Can you buy him off with Mark bucks? I wanna get this out."
14:32 DS: Yeah, definitely.
14:34 AW: Oh, anyway. Alright, well, let's talk about things that we have more control over, and that's our focus topic today in looking at demos and breaking down a number of things. For us, it's most prevalent in our sales process and as we do a demo with the customer, but let's dive in. Where do you wanna start with demos, Darren?
14:57 DS: Well, I've got a lot of questions for you, basically. It's something I've been thinking about a lot as we look at this customer service stuff and as we're trying to encourage more demos. Demos have really been on my mind lately, and I think about how we do them and how we can improve them. And so, I thought you might have some ideas. Where do I wanna start? I wanna start with software. What do you use, first of all, to record your demos? Have you tried other things? I know what we use. Let's hear it, what do you guys use?
15:25 AW: Yeah, we have migrated through a few different things. Started originally with just one or two users or just maybe a company account with GoTo, when the team could be counted on one hand. Then, when we had to expand to at least five licenses or so, we used Join.me. And I'm pretty sure Join.me now has been purchased by GoTo. But it was easy and straightforward, but we definitely... We had a few people that had a few performance issues with it here and there.
15:57 DS: Really?
15:57 AW: Yeah. And then, just like cutting out, audio quality, things like that, weren't always awesome with it.
16:03 DS: Right, interesting.
16:05 AW: And then a year ago, then we switched to Zoom. We had just expanded into, I think we're around 15 licenses now: Sales, customer success, exec team, everything else. And for the most part, on the meeting side, it's great, it does everything it should. The one thing we've had trouble adapting is when we switched for our monthly customer webinars or agency webinars. Zoom's webinar product is not killer. It's got a lot of finicky, little nuances that we were learning on the fly 'cause we just thought, "Oh, it'll be similar. We're using GoTo webinar." And yeah, not as polished there, and you gotta ride that bike a few times, otherwise, you kinda crash on it a little bit. That part's been hard, but the regular, just conference calls and those pieces, Zoom has worked for us pretty well.
16:56 DS: That's interesting. It's also very interesting to me that you have 15 licenses. At Whitespark, we have one, two people that really do demos, and we just share the one account, so it's like... We certainly aren't at that level. And so that makes me wonder, you must be banging out demos all over the place. You have a number of people doing it. We're currently using Join.me and it seems to work pretty good. One of the things that we like is, we will record the demo and then we send the client a link to it after. If they wanted to review something in the software, they have a recording of it. Do you do that with Zoom? Do you have a follow-up and a recording, right?
17:37 AW: Yep, absolutely. Yep, absolutely, we record it. And then, I've also found it, too, when we were training salespeople, I sent them a bunch of my sales recordings.
17:45 DS: Yeah, totally.
17:46 AW: It lets them hear the history of things that we've been doing. And then, vice versa, I'd have them record their early sales calls and then send them to me. So then, when I had time, I could listen back and offer some talking points and some feedback on those. So yeah, super valuable to be able to record those calls.
18:05 DS: Yeah. How many demos are you doing per week, would you estimate?
18:11 AW: Yeah, so we have things bucketed into few different ways. It's like, if you look at... And it falls in line with our segment, our customer segments. On one side is our small businesses; single-location, small business comes to our website and we have call to actions all over our website on request a demo, so they sign up and yeah, we basically have... I don't... This is sad, I don't even know the exact 'cause it doesn't fall directly under my wing, but I'm gonna guess we have somewhere around two to four set demo times every week. We reply to them and say, "Hey, great, you're interested. Here's the upcoming demo times this week." And so, we're trying to do a one-to-many demo with those. We used to do personal one-on-ones, but it got to the point where we were doing so many that it's like, "Alright, we need to have five, 10, 15 of these businesses in this demo, and we're just gonna do them every... Two on Tuesday, one on Thursday, and let's get as many people to those within that time frame."
19:16 DS: That's interesting, yeah. So, that's smart. You've mentioned that on a previous episode, where for the SMBs, you'll do them all at the same time. In that case, you're not really trying to address specific pain points by showing specific features, you're kinda just walking through the script of, "This is the tool, this is what you can do, and here are the features." Is that right? Yeah.
19:40 AW: Yep, yep. A lot of just education on the product, acknowledging what the landscape looks like, and addressing these are probably some of the problems you're having, and it's why you're looking at us. Here's the benefits, and then here's the features that make those benefits happen. And then allowing some Q&A and follow-up at the end for 'em, but that was one of our hard things, 'cause when you're doing one-to-one, you could be like, "Alright, what type of business are you? Oh, you're a plumber. Well, great, let's talk about some things specifically that I know are helpful in your industry." You lose that a little bit, but once you start hitting certain things, you're like, "Okay, based on price point and scaling this, and what we need to be putting our time on... " Those are just some of the things that you figure out what are we prioritizing to make this happen.
20:28 DS: Right, that's really interesting. I think that's a key takeaway from this podcast episode for listeners is that concept of pooling your individual clients. Obviously, like any large multi-location deal, you're gonna wanna do a customized demo, but pooling them is really smart.
20:46 AW: Yeah, so after the small business one... And those are done by our customer success team. There's two members of our customer success team that rotate or help each other out with those, but they're the ones that are doing that, they're incredibly well-equipped to do it. And for how we run things, that process for us isn't a high sales process. We follow up with, "Here's what we reviewed, here's the link to go and sign up, let us know if there's anything else you need." But it's much more of a low-touch format with what's there with them. And we've even talked about the next step for us to automate more if we felt like we couldn't get to it, is just to go to an on-demand recorded webinar, where from our side, we'd still want them to say, "Hey, here's who I am, here's my name and email address and my business," so that we can follow up with them and understand who they are. But then that would give them access to like, "Alright, great, here's a 30-minute pre-recorded demo that you can watch."
21:46 DS: Is the demo when you have it with let's say 10 to 15 SMBs participating in this Tuesday or Thursday demo, is it interactive in any way? Can they ask questions? Or...
21:57 AW: Yep. Yeah, they can totally use the question or the chat feature to ask questions when they're on it. Yep, still able to answer those questions, and that's where a recording wouldn't even allow you to be able to do that, and we just... It was the right step for us not to go all the way to a recorded. I know there's plenty of SaaS tools that do it. Depending upon what type of product you're selling, that might work for you, but in our case, we just know they have questions, we need to dive deeper on certain things and it works best for us.
22:28 DS: Sure. And so you will address the questions interactively on the demo as they pop up?
22:33 AW: Yep.
22:34 DS: Okay. 'Cause you could still have the recording, but have a chat open where someone's just sitting there answering the questions. [chuckle]
22:40 AW: Yeah, yeah, totally, that could be done but then they'd be not paying attention to what the next section is 'cause they're interacting with the chatroom. But who knows? Someday we might be busy enough where we get to that, where it's like, "Alright, that's really what we need to do." Then the next segment with agencies, here we do one-to-one demo, so our agency sales rep, Chris, between demo requests and pricing requests, he's trying to move them to get them into a demo. He does a one-on-one demo with them, he answers a lot of questions. If anything, as we continue to grow, we look at with him, that he probably goes too far in the demo, and it becomes more of a customer success session than a sales. Our customers love it, but when you start looking at certain volume things, that's where it gets really tricky. How much time is too much time? And how do you cut that off?
23:37 AW: And I would say on average what we like to see on Chris' plate is closer to 10 to 15 demos a week for him based on what our inbound is and numbers that we'd like to hit. Some could be slower, some could be even faster with that. I know he's had some good marathon days where he's doing five, six, seven, eight demos within a day. But that's where it's even more important to have discipline on, these need to be 45-minute demos, and you're not trying to boil the ocean with it, as compared to somebody... Somebody can easily drag you into a two or three-hour demo just by wanting every question answered.
I think that's something important for people to think about when you're early and starting off, yeah, invest all the time you can, but as you grow and hit some maturity, you do have to be conscious with, we need to have this be concise, still incredibly valuable, but have it be concise and try to move them to the next step in the sales process.
24:38 DS: For sure. Is that the number, 45? Is that what you try to keep your demos to? Or the half hour, what is it usually?
24:44 AW: Yeah, so me personally, the ones that I'm doing with multi-locations, we schedule an hour call. And I really wanna have... And this one, since I'm the one doing it, I can speak to it a lot more accurately, but what we do with our multi-location calls is, we have a deck of about 30 slides that takes you about 30 minutes to run through. Then I'll have a browser set up with a bunch of tabs all related to the back end of the product, "Here's review widgets on sites, you can see it, here's a number of other features." And I really let that second section based on what they ask questions in the slides, that's where I go to like, "Alright, here's where you have these questions, now let's look at how this works either in the product or how this surfaces on your website, or in the search results, or whatever that might be."
25:33 DS: That's interesting, I did not realize you did that. When someone books a demo with Whitespark, it's like, we get on a call, I have some questions for them, and then I show them the software, and we talk about their pain points and hear how we can solve those. You have a deck? Like you actually present a slide deck?
25:50 AW: Yes, yep, so what we hit upon is kind of... And I should back up, 'cause you just touched upon something that we just evolved to, it's really important. When it was just me doing these sales, I had a set routine of questions I knew I wanted to ask. And when I went to formalize our sales process more and build more structure for our sales new hires, we actually created a pre-demo questionnaire.
We send them a 10-question form that hits upon things like, "Why are you coming to us? How many locations do you have? Have you used a reputation management solution before? What CRMs do you have?" We're asking the 10 most important questions that really help us understand how we might customize our pitch and what we spend time on, what are their pain points, how familiar are they with what we do, that kind of stuff, and that really helps. Yeah, that really helps inform that, and make sure that we capture those things. 'Cause even in my demos, in winging it sometimes, I'll forget to ask that question and it's like, "Ah, now I have to follow up in an email to find that," and it's just getting even further to delivering our price or a proposal, or whatever that could be.
27:03 DS: For sure. Interesting. Alright, cool, I wanna see that deck. Actually, I think I might sign up for your regular SMB demo. I wanna get on that...
27:14 AW: There you go.
27:14 DS: And watch your demo and see how you do it, 'cause it's something that we're trying to work on here at Whitespark, improve our demos, and so I think...
27:21 AW: Well, I would say for any business, sign up and be sold to. And it gives you a lot of ideas on what you do and don't like. Funny enough, we have sat in on a couple of competitors' demos, only from the standpoint that they buy lists and they end up emailing us when they bought the list to say like, "Hey, you should... "
27:42 DS: "Hey, want a demo?" [chuckle]
27:43 AW: Yeah. Yeah, whatever, we're like, "Yeah, sure, you emailed us about it. It's not us sneakily creating our John Smith account."
27:51 DS: Yeah, totally.
27:53 AW: Yeah, but it shows, especially for bigger ones, just how blind they are to what they're putting out there. It's a total shotgun spray approach. Put as much out there as possible and see what bites.
28:04 DS: Who the heck buys lists? It's actually the worst marketing strategy.
28:09 AW: I get emails weekly on, "Here's your competitors, buy their list." And then when they're really bad at it, and they say like, "We have all these competitors." When they're really bad at it they have you on it as well.
28:21 DS: Yeah, totally.
28:22 AW: It's like, yeah...
28:22 DS: You know you can segment the list.
28:25 AW: Yeah. That's us, so good job.
28:26 DS: Yeah, totally. [chuckle]
28:28 AW: Or we re-branded over a year ago now and they'll still... It'll be a GetFiveStars email address are sent to us instead of GatherUp and the opening is there, "I've been following your company closely... "
28:43 AW: It's like, "Really? Well, you seem to be about a year behind."
28:48 DS: That's right. Yeah.
28:49 AW: Yeah. So, yeah, and then, like I said, the slide deck is pretty static, answer questions in it, but it allows us to get our main talking points across, how we see the space, what's unique about us, here's the features that are there. And it's pretty much the same deck that our SMB delivers, but we just talk about it differently. The talk track and the story to it is a lot different. And then after that, like I said, the browser stuff, then I wanna jump into the product where they hag questions or interest. And I really wanna drive home with them, like, "Hey, you're interested in how you request reviews? Great, let's go in and look at how the email is basically a drip campaign and there's automations, and you control the settings and things like that with it," reporting, things like that that just translate much better visually. I wanna show that living, breathing in them.
29:37 DS: Yeah, and I think the review feed, I think that's a huge thing. Whenever I demo Reputation Builder, which is GatherUp, I've always really drill into that customer activity feed. So you can say, "Here's all your reviews for all your locations. It's so nice, you can manage this all in one place," and that is what I find, I [29:57] ____ up there, their eyes light up.
29:58 AW: Totally. I use that... Yeah, I'm like, this is a working screen for you, right? You have 6000 customers in here, but let's look at your ones that gave you one or two stars and that you haven't replied to them.
30:12 DS: Yeah. All that culture.
30:12 AW: And then they're like, "Oh, wow. Yeah, this makes it a working scenario for me so that I can make sure we're doing the right things."
30:18 DS: Yeah, totally.
30:19 AW: Yeah, so once the demo's done, then our process for me at multi-locations is, I'm gonna follow up, I'm gonna give them a PDF of the deck we reviewed, I'm gonna send them the recording. If there's any specific questions that I needed to get back that we weren't able to answer, send those. I'll usually try to send a case study. So I really make that reach back email super valuable to them and just kind of pepper them with like, "Alright, wow, all my bases are covered, I have all this." And then try to deliver them pricing and say, "Great, can we put in a statement of work together for you based on everything that we've shown you?" And it seems like we're...
30:56 DS: Do you have a system? So, okay, you send this great email at the end that has all of the... Everything they would need so all their questions are answered, that's smart, and then do you set something up where it's like, okay, in four days an automatic follow-up needs to get sent out? Or do you put something on a calendar, in your CRM, like, "Okay, make sure we follow up with them in four days"?
31:18 AW: Yeah, we don't, but we should. At least, I can't speak for myself, but, yeah, we absolutely have the availability to do that in Pipedrive. Sometimes, I will set those, but I'm definitely not consistent with it. I've always said, like, "Man, I am the biggest failure of a CRM ever, and I just try to train my employees...
31:40 DS: To do it better. Yeah.
31:41 AW: And our teams to be way better than what we do. So I'm like, "Don't be me." I definitely get the deal info in there, but as far as every last detail and the back and forth, I could totally do a better job, and I could use built-in features like the reminders and next item and tasks.
32:00 DS: I feel the exact same. It's like, I go through these waves where I'm really good at being on top of sales. And in my CRM, we use a system called Copper. And I'm really on top of it for a good couple of weeks and then I just get busy. It's like, these conference things will come up, and then things just start falling off and I'm not doing as good a job as I was before. What can you do? Can't do it all.
32:22 AW: Yeah, no, it becomes hard. And I think if anything there... And you'll see, as you grow and you expand past just you doing it, that's where you see the real big value. It's like, "Oh, this gives me so much visibility," I can look at the team and say, "Here's what's in each of their... " We have five sales stages, and so I can see what deals are in what stage, so I can forecast better, it allows me to help, like, "Alright, why don't we have enough within this segment, within this phase of the sales process?" That visibility is a really good thing, and it's accountability for each person too, right?
32:54 DS: Definitely. Yep.
32:56 AW: They see what they have in there, and then I can say like, "Hey, here's someone else's pipeline, do you see the massive difference here? And let's talk about how do we get this... Where are we missing the mark with getting in or progressing people to the next stage?"
33:10 DS: Yeah, definitely. Cool. Alright, I got more questions here. Let's say, questions are coming in on support, they didn't explicitly request a demo. How heavily are you pushing demos in those customer support questions? Like new leads that come in, they have questions. Do you then proactively try to suggest demos on a regular basis? Are you pushing demos as your primary thing? Or do you suggest you get on a call? Or is a call always a demo?
33:40 AW: Yeah. We offer a lot of leeway, especially to our CS team, if those are coming in through those general channels, but we usually see a pretty... For those that are pre-sales, we are gonna try to funnel them to a demo. We basically tell them like, "This is the best way to get to know the product and really understand the concepts," because even if somebody comes in and says they have this one or two very specific questions, it's great to answer those, but you also have to realize they might be asking this specific question with a complete misnomer on the high level strategy to it. Right?
34:18 DS: Right.
34:19 AW: So we always wanna route them back into... If they're not a customer with us, we absolutely wanna get them to a demo, and if we understand they're a small business or a multi-location or agency, we wanna get them to the right person to get them into the right demo. So yeah, we definitely wanna route 'em that way. When it's an existing customer, then we wanna do exactly what we can to answer those questions for them, that gets more into customer success support stuff and things like that. But being helpful, giving them the help guide article that they might need, jumping on a call if that's what they need to resolve it, all of those different pieces, whatever it is to satisfy that direct ask.
35:02 DS: Yeah. How many demos are you personally doing for larger enterprise-y type client?
35:09 AW: Yeah, on average, I would probably say two to four a week.
35:16 DS: That's a lot.
35:17 AW: It is a lot, it's a good thing. I'm starting to... Now with having the sales team, I'm probably closer to the two, so it's gonna be very large ones that I also know will be very sophisticated. As we continue to ramp our team, the more experience our sales team has between our two outbound reps in multi-locations, that's made it a lot easier on me, but I still... The ones that are in the hundreds or possibly even thousands of locations, I'm handling those directly. Sometimes, I will have them... They still will ride along with those based on what's here.
It's been harder to do lately because man, working these in amongst how crazy my travel schedule is and whatever else, that has been a nightmare and been really hard. And even with some of those, it's allowed me to pass off. It just makes it easier for me to delegate and be like, "Alright, sweet, I'm CC-ing this person on our sales team." And the minute you reply, "Yeah, let's schedule this demo," they're jumping in to be like, "Great," and they handle it from there.
36:23 DS: Nice. Yeah, that's good. Yeah, because what are you gonna do? Are you gonna go to a Starbucks and do a demo?
36:31 AW: Yeah, totally. Plenty from my hotel rooms as of recently.
36:33 DS: Sure, yeah. That works. That works fine.
36:36 AW: Yeah. But yeah, I wanna get to the point where I'm really only involved in extremely high level pitches or the sales team is asking me to come to a super key demo, because they know it will help bring the customer on. I wanna be a tool for them as success instead of part of the process to get that customer.
36:54 DS: Yeah, I like your pre-demo questionnaire. That's a great idea, we're gonna hook that up. Definitely get that.
37:00 AW: It's such an easy thing to do, right?
37:01 DS: Yeah, exactly.
37:01 AW: We use Typeform for it and when we're scheduling the demo, we're like, "Great, we're all set, I'm gonna send you a Zoom invite for the meeting on your calendar, and here's a quick 10-question survey to fill up before the demo so we can best customize it to your needs." And yeah, it gets filled out and it's also great 'cause our entire sales team can see all the results that come in so you can see what other customers are citing as their background, their big goals, what CRMs they're using, things like that. It's actually building up a good repository of pre-sales data for us.
37:34 DS: Cool. What kind of post-sale demos do you do? Any at all? A customer just came through, signed up, they've been using the tool for a few days and they have a bunch of questions. Do you ever say, "Hey, well, let's jump on a demo and I can show you that stuff"? Is that... Or you wouldn't even call that a demo, you would just call that...
37:56 AW: Yeah, we wouldn't really call it a demo. Customer success will totally do that and, "Hey, let's just jump on a call real quick, share our screen and be able to walk you through so you can see exactly how this works." On the sales side, sometimes, we'll have some secondary demos so it might be the person who's required to go do the leg work and identify possible solutions. And then the next time will be like, "Okay, now my boss and my boss's boss, these are the people involved, and now we need to do a demo for them." That, on the sales side, that's more likely in multi-locations, where we get into that. And now, the decision makers are at the table, which it's much better when they're all there day one. I usually try an early email communication to be like, who's gonna be there and things like that, and try to get all those people to the table.
38:52 AW: But sometimes in bigger orgs like that, that will have to happen and then I should throw out there, for certain ones, too, I just tell them after a demo sometimes if there's gonna be more, like, "Can I get on a plane?" and "Do you guys wanna have a meeting?" If it's the right kind of deal and I know it'll go a long way, let's do this demo in person. I'm more than willing to like, let's build a relationship, let's build trust, the size of the account warrants it. Yeah, we're selling software but let's get a relationship going." And I find that that's a great secret weapon, 'cause there's so many companies not willing to invest into that or do that. And when you do that, then they're just like, "Wow, you were really eager to work with us, and I trust you, and I feel good, and you answered all of our questions while we're sitting there face-to-face. We're gonna go with you."
39:42 DS: That is nice. You're lucky to be in Minneapolis, it's a good hub for getting anywhere.
39:47 AW: It does make going anywhere a little bit easier, for sure. I would have never thought... Once upon a time, I would have loved to be able to live anywhere I want, and now, running a remote company, I actually could, but yeah, I cannot live an hour away from a direct main airport because that would just drive me crazy.
40:10 DS: Totally. And Minneapolis is so beautifully situated in the center of the country, kind of.
40:16 AW: Yes.
40:16 DS: You can easily... You can pretty much have a flight anywhere where you can fly in the morning, you're working on the plane the whole time anyways, you go and have a two-hour meeting and then you're home in the afternoon.
40:28 AW: Yup, it does make it a lot easier.
40:30 DS: Yeah, that's great.
40:32 AW: Darren, what do you think... I wanna ask you a question. What do you feel like in your process that you haven't... What has it been that has kept you from getting more of a like, how do we get what our customers are asking about and get in front of a living, breathing environment like a demo for them? What's kept you from doing it?
40:49 DS: Well, it's not like we don't do it, we definitely do it. It's just opportunities to improve our process there, things like the pre-demo questionnaire is really clever. We gotta do that. And I think another big one is this slide deck idea, so the flow of your demo is very interesting to me, and so I think we can improve process there.
We do a lot of demos, so we have a lot of customers that come in and they ask for a demo, we schedule them, we do them, but we just haven't put in the time to build a good process around it. And so I know that this episode is very valuable for me from that perspective so I hope that a lot of listeners are picking up some ideas here, too, 'cause there's lots of opportunities to optimize that process. And so that's what I wanna do, I wanna improve all of these things.
41:45 DS: Maybe Zoom, it might be better. So we might even change our software, we'll build a deck, and then we'll have a post-demo follow-up process. You know what? It really speaks to our last podcast episode around process. We don't have a good demo process, we're just winging it, it's like, "Oh, someone wants a demo? Sure. Yeah, we get on a call with them and we show them the tool." It's like, everything that you're describing is a very structured process on how you can optimize and improve your demos. And so that's what we need to do, that's what you have to do to take to the next level. And it's funny to think about that, right? You just think about demos as this one thing you do but you can put a process on everything to make it so much better. And I think it sounds to me like you've done a really good job of doing that.
42:33 AW: Yeah, well, as always noted, there's always room for improvement. Some of the things we're doing, we literally just put some of the... The pre-demo questionnaire, that just came about 60 days ago as we grew and needed more process on the sales side. It is never ending, but yeah, I look at that structure and I look at that, the deck has always allowed us to make sure the demo is about the customer. You wanna personalize it, you wanna have to be about them, but it is about how do you communicate your value proposition, how you're different, and how you wanna help them, what's important to you, how do you do that in a consistent and concise way.
And I found out early on before we had that, we didn't have that, where it's just jumping into the product that, then you really allowed the customer to completely control all of it within some ways. And while that is great, a lot of times, you would miss out on a number of things because of time constraint and where they took the conversation that you never had a chance to set the table on, "Here's what this looks like, here is what is important, here's what we wanna deliver in business value, here's how you're gonna benefit, here's the features that make it happen." And so we weren't getting that flow in a consistent basis, that was really important to be able to nail.
43:57 DS: Absolutely. I think that's a really good comment, is being able to set the table. It's like you wanna make sure that all of these really valuable features and benefits get conveyed on the demo and it can completely get derailed if you don't have a structure in place. They'll have a question and then you could spend the next like half hour talking about schema markup rather than actually demoing the product.
44:22 AW: Yes, and those things can still happen.
44:25 DS: Yeah, definitely. Definitely, yeah.
44:28 AW: What do you find? What's one thing that you have found surprising or consistent that you didn't think would be in the demos you do? What's something that you're like, "I would have never bet on this, but this is something that I continually see or a takeaway from, when I interact with customers in pre-sales demos"?
44:49 DS: Oh, man, you ask me this question 'cause I think you probably have an answer for it, but I can't think of anything. Our demo process is, I try to really focus the demo on their specific pain points. Whenever they get on a call with me, I wanna ask them like, "What are the things you're having a problem with? Are you currently using a vendor for this? What are the struggles you're having? What are the challenges?" And then from there, I'll show them all of the features. As you just mentioned, I probably miss out on showing them other really great stuff because I'm too focused on that one thing, but that is why they came to us, so I think there was a benefit there. I don't have a good answer.
45:31 AW: Yeah. Maybe I can ask the question better. How well do you feel that they understand what you deliver?
45:38 DS: Yeah, so I think I would rate it... It's a C. On a letter grade scale, I would grade us a C. And I think we could get to an A with a better process because I think they understand pieces of it but not the whole picture, and that's just a really great way to look at it. If someone comes in, they want a demo, that's an opportunity for you to show them how great your solution could be, and if you don't use that time properly, you could only be showing them 60% of what the potential is. And then if you only show them 60%, someone else shows them 100%, then they're gonna get the sale and not you. So yeah, it's a really interesting way to look at it.
46:24 AW: Yeah, no. And that's I guess what it's [46:27] ____, it's like, alright, they know the terms to be able to ask the questions around a citation or around a review and things like that, but what we found is a lot of times, they're missing the strategical part, and we see that so key, as like, "Let us help you think about this because the tactical decisions are endless and you have a lot of options," but unless you're rooted into, "Here is why these things matter, here's how we approach them." To me, that's the biggest sale you're trying to get, is them to buy into how you view what takes place, not so much the tactical. "What mode? Are you gonna request reviews via SMS or email?" I look at... If that's the only things they're making their decision off of, then there's a million solutions that can help them.
But if you're able to convey, "This is why we've built these tactical things 'cause they weave into this strategical outlook," those are the ones that will sign up, will stay with us, become loyal repeat customers, and refer us to other people, because in the easy way to put it, like they're drinking the Kool-Aid.
47:34 DS: Yeah, totally. And it's not actually Kool-Aid, it's the real stuff. You are subject matter experts and it's helpful to educate the customers on that and you establish yourself as people that they can trust to help answer that. You're not just going through the motions of like, "We have this feature. Look, you can toggle that on or off." That's not that exciting to people. What's exciting to people is, "I have this bigger problem which is much bigger than sending feedback request via SMS or email, it's like, how do we improve our business?" And so you're really tackling it at the high level, which I think is valuable in the demo, and it could be a piece of our demos that we're currently missing.
48:19 AW: Yeah. Well, I think you made a great point in there of an overall, no matter what you're doing in a demo or a sales call, keep your customer engaged. If you are boring them to death, [chuckle] if you're not delivering value, teaching them, giving them insight, yeah, you're likely going to lose them or they're gonna be typing emails while your demo's playing. So yeah, that's definitely an important piece. And in that same line, boy, we as always, we're getting close to a pretty long time on here. We should probably cut ourselves off once again so that our podcast listeners stay engaged. We might have to revisit this one. There's still plenty to talk about.
49:00 DS: There is, yeah. For sure. Alright.
49:02 AW: Alright. Well, awesome. Thanks everyone. We appreciate you joining us again on The SaaS Venture. Darren, anything of note coming up for you personally or professionally in the coming weeks that you wanted to touch on as we sign off?
49:16 DS: Nothing too much. I'm looking forward to launching the new Local Citation Finder. I think that's gonna be great for us, it's our biggest SaaS product, we have more subscribers to that and we have a lot of churn there. So the new Local Citation Finder should improve that churn, reduce the churn, and I'm really looking forward to that. It's sort of the biggest thing that I wanna focus on [49:40] ____ in a while. I also actually need to get back to doing the local search ranking factors, so I'll be putting that together in the next month as well.
49:51 AW: Nice. Yeah, those are a couple of big things I'll be excited to hear about. Hopefully, you can keep us up to date on if retooling that does help your churn and some of the things you learn in that, that'll be awesome.
50:03 DS: Definitely. I'll have to make sure that we set it up properly to track and really measure the difference, the impact that we see from doing that.
50:10 AW: Coolio.
50:11 DS: Coolio.
50:12 AW: Alright. Well, thanks, everyone, for listening. We'll wrap things up, and thanks, Darren, always a pleasure.
50:18 DS: In turn, always a pleasure. We'll talk to you all next time.
50:20 AW: Alright. Yup. See you everybody next time.
What is The SaaS Venture?
Sharing the adventure to lead and grow bootstrapped SaaS companies through experiences, challenges, wins and losses. Hosted by Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. In this current world of "unicorn" , VC funded software companies that have to IPO or get acquired for $1B, we'll spend our time on the bootstrapped, profitable, growing SaaS sector we operate in and share our insights and experiences.