Sales Models, Metrics, and Motions Blog

Are Your Sales Demos like Dilbert or Thom Finn?

by Brian Geery on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 Early in my B2B software sales career, I ran into a competitive situation that turned out to be a major learning experience. If you’re a Sales Leader at a company that sells B2B software, you’ll enjoy this.

The situation

I worked for SoftPoint Data Systems, selling software that helped pharmacists improve the prescription fulfillment process. Everywhere I turned, prospects would tell me, “No thanks, I bought a system from Thom Finn.” (Name changed to protect the innocent.) Thom worked at Script Systems, a primary competitor.

I always found it interesting that pharmacists would say
they bought from Thom Finn; not Script Systems.

I later learned it was because Thom showed the pharmacists how to solve their business challenges. As such, they felt they were buying from Thom, a trusted advisor, not Script Systems, an anonymous company. Realizing I couldn’t beat them, I persuaded SoftPoint’s CEO to hire Thom. (Hey, got any better ideas?)

With Thom on the team, I learned his secret. It was the effectiveness of his software demonstration.

While I was doing the usual features & benefits run through:

"Here is how easy it is to enter a new patient’s name...[eyes glaze over]
You can spell Rodriguez multiple ways and find the patient... [yawn]
These are the drop downs where you select an insurance plan with an automatically validated number… [zzzz]”

Thom was demonstrating how to solve real business problems.

How Thom demo'd

Thom would take out a stack of six prescriptions that he'd collected when visiting the pharmacy.

Then he would ask, “Mr. Pharmacist, would you please time me using the second hand on that clock on the wall? I’m going to fill these prescriptions. I’ll explain what happened afterwards.”

Thom would pick up prescription #1, enter it into the computer, flip it over, and do the same with each copy. When done, he would ask, “How long did it take me to enter those six prescriptions?

The pharmacist would answer, “Five minutes.”

Thom would say, “OK, that's 75% faster than the 20 minutes it currently takes you. Let me tell you about what we just accomplished along the way. While entering these prescriptions, we identified an expired insurance plan, enabling the pharmacist to require a cash payment. If I recall, you estimate that you are losing $2,500 per month on expired plans. We were also able to substitute a brand name when the generic was not in stock, increasing your profit by $2.50 on just one subscription. And, by the way, if this were real life, no customers would have left because of a long line, as now happens during your busiest times.”

Wow. While I was merely demonstrating how my software worked, Thom was demonstrating how his solved real business problems (and cost justifying along the way).

Key takeaway

If you want to help your Reps to sell more, be sure they are demoing how your software solves business problems and makes financial sense, and not how it works. Showing how it works is training and training should take place after the sale, not during it!

Sometimes, prospects do ask “How do you?” questions. For example:

Prospect - “How do you enter updates to a customer’s account receivable record?”

Rep - “It’s quite simple. We actually have you do a few sample entries during the training session. Tell me about the type of information you need to track in your customer’s accounts receivable record, and I can show you how the software will deliver that information when you need it.”

Of course, your Reps need to be able to show people how to use basic features, but it is more important that they can demonstrate how your software solves the business challenge!

What you can do today

List five business challenges that your software solves. Roll out an incentive program for the best “problem solving demo” and watch your team’s demo-to-close ratio improve!

Thanks for listening. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Topics: inside sales management, sales demos

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