How To Give a Great SaaS Demo

By Anna Talerico

Aug 29 2019

If you are in SaaS sales, you know a great demo can make or break your chances of winning the deal. But what you may not know is what actually makes a demo great. Most demos—yes most—are simply terrible. Which is a shame, because giving a killer demo just isn’t that hard. 

Here’s a quick overview of how to give a great SaaS demo, and links to a few fantastic articles to help round things out. 

Get a little introspective about the role of a demo in the sales cycle

A demo isn’t a perfunctory thing we do as a ‘check the box’ aspect of the sales cycle. A demo helps demonstrate how well you can help your customer solve a problem or attain a goal. A demo reinforces the value you can provide. A demo builds a relationship because it shows the sales rep has been listening—really listening—to the prospect. 

I like to put the demo up on a pedestal so that we don’t go through the motions. To stimulate thought and discussion, here are some questions I always explore with my sales reps:

  • What is the purpose of a demo?
  • When is the most opportune time to conduct a demo?
  • What makes a great demo?
  • What are the most important things to know prior to doing a demo?
  • What types of things should be avoided in a demo?

Win the deal with the demo

There is only one way to use the demo to win the deal. Know who you are demo’ing and what they care about, and stick to it. 

Do not ramble, do not show every feature, do not do the same exact demo for every prospect. A demo should be a highly targeted experience where we show only what the prospect needs to know. When we do this well, it leads to natural curiosity on the part of the prospect and we can let the product ‘un-fold’ in front of them as they ask questions.

Before conducting a demo, you need to know what you are doing, why you are doing it and what’s going to matter most. Here is what I think you know, at a minimum, before ever conducting a demo (and if a sales engineer is conducting the demo, they need you to provide this information to them bneforehand):

  • The 5-minute test. If the prospect only had 5 minutes, what would you have to show them in order to win the deal?
  • What’s the prospect’s specific need, pain, goal or aspiration?
  • Who will be on the call? What are their titles & roles in the organization?
  • Are they familiar with our product category?
  • What relevant tools are they currently using—including our competitors, our partners or adjacent software?
  • Do they have any specific technical or integration questions that have to get addressed right now?

If you do a 90-minute demo and you think you nailed it because the prospect ‘stayed engaged with you the whole time’, I can almost guarantee you didn’t nail it, you blew it. Long demos are boring. Long demos are overwhelming, Long demos aren’t targeted or specific.

Get very clear about what the prospect cares about and stick to that.

Don’t forget your demo basics

I hate to have to even write this part, because it’s just common sense. But I’ve sat on my share of demos where the sales rep forgot these simple steps. Before beginning a demo, please make sure you:

  • Hide your dock
  • Hide notifications
  • Close all applications closed/minimized
  • Clean your browser, no open tabs other than what is needed for the demo
  • Have the right pages and applications pulled up and ready to go 

More great SaaS demo advice

To dive deeper into how to give a great demo, here are some of my favorite articles. I consider these ‘must reads’ for any SaaS sales engineer or account executive. 


Good demos don’t have to be perfect for the product. They have to be perfect for the audience.-FirstRound


Let’s say you’ve identified a problem they have, and you have the solution. What you want to do is not just show it to them, but first dimensionalize it.-Close


You need to know the answers to these “ifs” BEFORE you get on the demo, otherwise you run the risk of wasting your prospects’ time showing them things they won’t use and don’t care about. -Mark Cox


We’ve all been in the demo or presentation where a “sales engineer” is engineering his way through every single menu, every single item, and every single option in his unnecessarily complex software. Did you find that fun? Enlightening? Enjoyable? Or were you just about ready to connect your head with a hard object, quickly? Remember that feeling … and do whatever it takes to avoid replicating it in your clients. -VentureBeat


The sale should never be dependent on the product or the demo. There’s a tendency for salespeople to utilize a demo as the ultimate feature benefit dump. Rather than doing their job as a salesperson, they sort of bring out the demo and hope it’s shiny and wows the buyer into taking action.-OpenView

Now, go forth and demo!

If you are a salesperson, I hope this helps you frame how you will approach giving the perfect demo. And if you are a sales leader, I hope this inspires you to hold your team to a higher standard. Vow to make sure there are no more bad demos, reinforce that with skill development, practice and coaching. A team who knows how to give a killer demo is a team that wins.

Content by Beacon9 SaaS Business Advisory

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