Discovery, Demo, or Disconnect? Why Product Demos Are Not Enough

September 9, 2015 Sam Laber

Sales people have been giving tech demos for a long time. Are we getting any better at it? – IBM technology demonstration 1961

Image Source: IBM 7090 Computer by NASA Ames Research Center Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Top of the funnel metrics require that SDR’s book discovery calls and demos, yet the value of those interactions can be difficult to quantify. This article suggests a framework for analyzing the Customer Pain Profile (CPP) to guide discovery, focus demos, and further clarify the SDR role.

A robust client pain profile, combined with one or more trigger events, may lead to an increase in close rates, and higher adoption rates, than an incomplete discovery and generic or rushed demo.

This hypothesis is based on the research and conclusions of four leading sales trainers who shared their findings at the PipelineDeals Accelerate Sales Conference and Sales Hacker Workshop with Microsoft in Seattle, WA.

Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst with TOPO, a research, advisory, and consulting firm, shared three key ways on how buyer-centric teams succeed:

  1. A clearly mapped out sales engagement strategy
  2. Pre-demo discovery that leads to a white-glove trial
  3. A five step closing plan that address client specific pain points

Top sales teams execute and quantify discovery data before a demo. Furthermore, feature-specific demos focused mostly on the product are often unsuccessful, especially if they are lacking client specific data.

As discovery is a critical milestone, what role does an SDR play in the discovery process, and how is that discovery record shared with the AE and the Customer Success teams?

Richard Harris, Principal with The Harris Consulting Group, shared his framework for mapping a client’s willingness to engage with sales teams as a function of a complex set of requirements, described as client pain points.

Several methods to explore a client’s ability to close a deal include BANT, ANUM, and CHAMP. Each address aspects of client pain described below:

  • BANT: Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline
  • ANUM: Authority, Need, Urgency, Money
  • CHAMP: CHallenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization

The introduction of robust Client Pain Profile (CPP), tied to discovery data, suggests a broader and deeper understanding of pain that, combined with trigger events, will help increase deal flow.  To start, create a framework for developing your CPP, as described below.

Developing Your Customer Pain Profile

Defining your CPP is a critical step to the success of your sales process

Develop a matrix that outlines five levels of pain for every organization you interact with. Include a simple range such as high, medium, low for each pain area.

  1. Immediate pain (I can fix that)
  2. Economic Pain (I can save you time and money)
  3. Organizational Pain (I can help ease the transition)
  4. Inherent Pain of Not Changing (I’m stuck and I can’t move, yet)
  5. Pain Associated with Change (What if your product sucks)

For each pain area, overlay key points of view for five decision makers:

  1. End User
  2. Department Manager
  3. Accounting Manager
  4. IT / Marketing Manager
  5. Director / C-Suite

By creating a deeper understanding of a shared or universal pain across an organization, you build the alliance necessary to reach a buying decision. But what does this suggest for the SDR role and the metrics they are measured on?

Conquer the Rush to Demo

Image Source: Page 235 - The Conquest of Mount Cook - Du Faur by Freda Du Faur Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Once you have defined your CPP, you may find the discovery process much more engaging than a simple or rushed demo. In fact, a demo without discovery can often leave a prospect feeling left out in the cold.

A/B test this hypothesis by simply doing 25 demos with no discovery, and 25 with discovery. Assuming discovery is more effective, you can then A/B test deeper levels of discovery. Remember that a discovery is intended to engage the prospect to reveal details associated with their CPP, not to engage in a scripted “interview”.

Often times the prospect is willing to reveal more information once a level of trust has been established. It may take a series of phone calls, emails, and social touches. Many prospects will also share additional stakeholder contact information once trust is been established.

Bridge the Success Gap

Image Source: Golden Gate Bridge view from top, HAER CA-31-30 by Jet Lowe Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln Murphy (Customer Success Evangelist with Gainsight) spoke clearly regarding his research that defines the success gap as the difference between what your product does, and the desired outcomes your client needs or wants. For example, buying new running shoes may help you run, but won’t help you finish a marathon. Joining a running group will help you train and ultimately finish that marathon. Setting up a running group, or at the very least a roadmap, that helps your prospect prepare for their ultimate goal, will instill a sense of confidence that goes far deeper than a specific product or service.

One could suggest that success also starts at the top of the funnel. By clearly defining the desired outcomes at the start of a sales conversation, you can work back into a conversation about the client pain profile. The next step is to mirror that back to your prospect, and then confirm or deny that with other key stakeholders in the organization.

Desired outcomes vary by team within large organizations. SDR’s will develop much clearer insights toward a consensus decision by establishing relationships with multiple stakeholders in an organization. This is critical for longer sales cycles.

CPP and Trigger events

Craig Elias (Principal with Shift Selling) referenced internal triggers as the most powerful, such as a budget increase, change in personnel, and other status quo disruptors. All organizations experience this type of change, and by mapping potential trigger events onto the prospect CPP, you are closer to closing a potential deal.

Sales teams presenting their platform or solution within the context of a robust CPP may be in a better position to leverage trigger events when they occur. Another way of thinking about this is leveraging an opportunity that is born out of complex decision-making process, which fuels a deeper sense of urgency within the organization and ultimately serves the desired outcomes of the client.

A trigger event may be a component of CPP, and may be inferred using a CPP framework. For example, if you identify elements of the prospect software stack and renewal dates, you will know the best times to introduce a new solution. A robust CPP combined with trigger events like software renewal dates creates a sense of urgency, an increase in deal flow, and improved client desired outcomes.


Now that buyers have access to more information regarding competing products and services, simply providing prospects with demos is not enough.

The main differentiator in inside sales now is trust. One key to building trust is using the best tools to gather sales intelligence, along with a framework and testing how improved discovery, tailored demos, robust CPP’s and trigger events all contribute to increased deal flow.

Finally, develop SDR metrics that incentivize discovery leading to customized demos that help define CPP at the top of the sales funnel.

Great People To Follow & Resources

About the Author:

Chris Ortolano (@salesnerdo) writes for SalesStack. SalesStack is a Slack team for inside sales tech QA, AMA, and webinars for the next generation sales and marketing leaders. 

Featured Image Source: Image Source: IBM 7090 Computer by NASA Ames Research Center Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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