Month: February 2014

9 Tips for Delivering Stellar Web Demos

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For most SaaS companies, delivering a spot-on web demonstration is the most critical part of the sales process.  Here are 9 tips to make sure you nail it:

  1. Customize each demo.  You’d be surprised how much wow factor you can get from adding a prospects logo or name to your app.  Also, have tabs open and organized – the less clicking the better.  Have their website open if it would help when relating to their business.
  2. The opening conversation is more critical than your demo.  Don’t just jump into the product demo.  Do a thorough discovery of their challenges and issues to understand how your solution can add value.  Use a “Challenger” sales approach by teaching them about similar clients that you have helped.  Tell a story and paint a picture on how your solution impacted your clients business.
  3. Set the stage with giving a verbal overview of what they are about to see.  A customer story is the best way to do this in my opinion.
  4. Tailor product features to your audience.  Don’t show every feature of your platform.  Instead, hit on only the areas where the prospect mentioned pain.
  5. Handle technology.  We use join.me and GoToMeeting at Hireology.  Whatever you use, make sure it is easy for your prospects to connect.  Also, make sure your internet connection is humming as there is nothing worse than having your prospects think your application drags.
  6. Check in often.  During the demo make sure you stop for questions or clarification often.  Since you can’t read body language, it’s difficult to sense understanding and acceptance of what you are showing.
  7. Be ok with not demoing your product.  A great discovery and “get to know your business”  conversation can be a perfect first call.  You could also uncover who else might be involved and schedule a follow-up demo getting all the stakeholders together.  This can not only accelerate the sales process but could also ensure that you are doing the selling and not the first person you demoed.
  8. Watch other people demo your product.  Seeing how other people show your application could help you put a new spin or angle on how you present.
  9. Don’t get click happy.  Join.me and other screen sharing applications have a bit of a lag.  Taking your time moving around the app will also make the product look easier to navigate.
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Why it’s OK to Hire Inexperienced Sales People

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As startups launch, they need feet on the street or voices over the phone to drive sales.  Many companies struggle with the decision to hire fresh, inexperienced sales people.  I’ve had a pleasant experience with bringing on young talented people and having them cut their teeth in sales.

Here a few reasons why I feel hiring inexperienced sales people can work:

  • They can learn from the best – CEO/Founders are usually doing the selling in the beginning.  Let these unexperienced sales people learn from the best.
  • Put them on the inside – I would recommend you start with these folks in inside sales, cold calling type roles. If you have a solid sales process and pitch in place it’s conceptually an easy role.  They call and get the founders or experienced sales people in front of qualified prospects.
  • They’ve already lived in those shoes – If you are hiring “green” sales people make sure that during the interview process they shadowed someone making the types of calls they will be asked to make.  I stress to go a step further and have them make some sales calls of their own in the interview.  If they are reluctant to dial in the interview chances are they will be reluctant in the role.
  • Old dog, old tricks – The face of selling is changing so rapidly today (with Insight/Challenger selling, etc.) that the old school way of selling can be less effective.  Hiring inexperienced folks will allow you to teach and train an approach and sales process you believe in.
  • Compensation – most startups don’t have a choice when they need to start ramping the sales organization and can’t afford high salary sales people.

My proof of concept – Our most experienced sales person in the lead generation role at Hireology is 4 months into the role and 4 months into her career.  Even with no real B2B sales experience we’re glad we brought her on as she is performing well above expectations.  One of my most seasoned sales people (1 year of experience – yes that’s seasoned in our world) came to us with zero sales experience and wins our sales person of the month contest month after month.

Dave Stein brings good insight to the opposing view that it is better to hire experienced sales people.  His thinking is that they need to learn way to much to be effective in a short period of time.  I would agree if you are selling to enterprise clients in an established market – for most startups however this typically isn’t the case.  http://davesteinsblog.esresearch.com/2008/07/hiring-inexperienced-sales-reps/

Whatever your decision, (experienced vs. inexperienced) hiring the right person is critical.  Perform structured scored interviews, do reference checks, understand their personality makeup and make sure they understand the role and day to day expectations.