2022 SE Trends: Demo Scripts with David Hayes
To start, give a high-level introduction of your background
I’m a product nerd. I was an engineering nerd for a while until I realized I wasn’t good enough to do that, and product is where I found my landing. It was really interesting to watch the various disconnects between what the field was given to sell with and what we thought was going on at corporate headquarters.
And I wanted to solve that problem. That’s where Demo Gorilla came from.
What are some tips for SEs to level up their skills?
Everything I’m going to say is around the theme of cross-pollination. Your sales enablement team hopefully has your best interests at heart, but they aren’t an all-knowing org. They don’t know your experiences in the field, and they aren’t as deeply embedded in the product and engineering teams.
One of the things we’ve had a lot of success with is encouraging sales engineers to participate in hack days. This got them really engaged and proud of their work – many showed it off on LinkedIn.
And what this does is build rapport among product and sales engineering teams. People who won a hackathon or at least participated are more likely to get product’s ear. Plus, this gives everyone a chance to get to know the product and its challenges better.
Reaching out to whoever organizes hack days at your organization is a great way to get involved.
Another thing I’ve seen work really well is having your own cheatsheet and keep expanding it. This is a feature of our product, and I love seeing what salespeople put in there.
My personal cheatsheet just says, “SLOW DOWN.” And it really helps me get into the right mindset for interviews. But every human being is different, and some sales folks need different pointers.
For example, one of our users handles international markets, so her cheatsheet has terms and feature names that are more commonly used in other countries.
Lastly, I recommend watching demo recordings from other SEs, PMs, or CSMs. Someone always knows some aspect of the product better than you do. And it’s easy to get complacent when you know you know the product way better than your AE.
But when you see other people crushing it, it motivates you to try new things or highlight other parts of the product in your demos.
What positive trends with presales are you seeing this year?
You overestimate how much can happen in a year but underestimate how much can happen in a decade. I am glad that we’re getting away from the age-old process of inviting prospects to steak dinners, golf, or other things we used to think of as “sales.”
Now, it’s a collaborative partnership. You’re trying to meet the actual business needs of the users. You land the sale and get as much money as possible via the users rather than the hard sale.
To that end, we’re seeing more content being pushed up from the field to marketing and enablement. And this only helps them – they aren’t the ones selling, nor are their commission checks on the line, so it’s useful to gain that on-the-ground feedback.
The continuous feedback loop is something we’re seeing more and more of, and I think that’s great.
Another thing that’s caught me by surprise is AEs who can demo. No company says, “we have too many sales engineers, we don’t know what to do with them.” So AEs are learning a bit more of the basic demo and can leave their early calls with a prospect on an exciting note.
I’ve also seen some companies add CSMs to their SDR, AE, and SE pod structure. They’re treating it like an end-to-end process. People care about ARR at all times of the sales cycle.
Remember, whatever promises the salesperson makes, the post-sales team needs to be able to deliver. So adding them to the pod as a more formal check makes it easier for them to plan.
What trends are you ready to see end this year for presales?
Number one is that there is a strict hierarchy in the pod. It may not appear on the org chart, but everyone’s been lulled into this idea that the AE is the boss and the only person that matters.
Even if the AE is the highest leverage person in terms of when the deal closes, there’s a reason why there are other people in the pod. The SE is just as important in getting it closed. If the product does not shine, it doesn’t matter how many golf metaphors the AE uses.
I’d like to see that team operate more as peers. One of the ways to hard-code that into the organization is by looking at compensation. SEs have worrying trends in terms of compensation – especially variable comp. That’s something I’m definitely passionate about.
We should also always be using the words customers are using. I believe we need to break free of the presales and postsales scripts internally. With SaaS, you’re always selling. Hopefully, your customer is always renewing and expanding.
You need to care about usage and satisfaction in all lifecycle stages. For presales, you’re potentially migrating them off of an old platform or getting them to renew or buy a new add-on. It’s not just a demo.
And there needs to be a clear handoff. You can’t just have presales and sales teams check out after the deal closes.
What are some of your favorite resources or tooling for SEs?
I have to say Demo Gorilla. But it’s part of a family of tools where someone has thought about the problems being sold. It’s not just “here’s X for SaaS.” We understood the sales cycle a level deeper.
Another example is Momentum.io. They’ve thought of the points of friction during the sales process.
Classic books like The Challenger Sale and The Sales Acceleration Formula also take sales one step further and look at the sales process holistically. They talk about structural changes that need to happen in a sales organization and what individuals need to do.
So they talk about the transition from one-off sales, one commission checks to a land-and-expand or PLG mindset.
Tell us more about Demo Gorilla
Everyone watching this has been in this position: you’re finally giving a demo of your product after rescheduling the meeting five times.
You’ve got a champion in the room, you’ve got their boss, you’ve got a detractor, you’ve got somebody that isn’t paying attention. You’re walking through features A, B, and C but then get thrown a curveball – you weren’t ready to talk about HIPAA compliance or SOC II requirements.
Live demos are just really hard. But Demo Gorilla makes them easier by providing a dynamic cheat sheet that updates based on what you’re learning in the meeting, what questions people ask, and what you’re doing in the product.
When you can look to the left and see the answer to a question or get a lead into your next line, you can always be selling instead of stumbling.