Why We Always Demo on the First Call

Alex Franco
November 29, 2022
min to read

Some things are timeless.

  • The Beatles.
  • Saying “Thank you”.
  • The Godfather.

They’ve all withstood the test of time and managed to always remain in style. 

Why We Always Demo on the First Call

Alex Franco
November 29, 2022
min to read

Some things are timeless.

  • The Beatles.
  • Saying “Thank you”.
  • The Godfather.

They’ve all withstood the test of time and managed to always remain in style. 

Other things don’t age as well. 

Like discovery calls.

Or, more specifically, the way they're typically run.

(Unless your sales cycle was penned by Lennon or directed by Coppola, of course).

Because whether we like it or not, things have changed.

For most of sales history (translation: 30 years), B2B SaaS sellers followed a playbook designed by legacy sales orgs to suit the needs of the company.

Often at the expense of the customer experience. 

The traditional B2B SaaS sales process encouraged sales orgs to painstakingly qualify and prod buyers with situational and discovery questions before deciding whether the prospect was qualified enough to get a glimpse of their software solution(s). 

At the time, the only way to gather information about a software product was to go through the sales process, so buyers had no choice but to tolerate it. 

It looked a little something like this 👇

But things are different today than they were in the ’90s and ’00s.

Buyers have as much information as they could ever need to develop an understanding of your product, features, value proposition, public sentiment, and your competitors — right at their fingertips.

They also have the intent and desire to do their own research before ever connecting with a sales professional.

Today’s software purchasing cycle is more of a buyer's journey. And that journey looks a little something like this:

As you can see, the process of buying software has changed. A lot.

That’s why, at Chili Piper, we changed our approach to discovery calls. One that better matches the new buyer’s journey and allows us to meet our buyer’s where they’re at.

One of those differences is that we never deny a demo on our initial Discovery calls. 

Why do we show a demo on the first call? 

At Chili Piper, we don't do things just because convention says so.

After all, the company started as a fully remote team in 2016. Our founders are a married couple. And we chose to turn down investors to bootstrap the growth of Chili Piper for the first three years of our existence.

None of these are normal.

It’s in our DNA to break the mold.

So while it’s been taboo for much of sales history to show a demo on a first call, we've incorporated this step in our Discovery calls for as long as we’ve been selling Chili Piper. It’s worked for us and has helped contribute to our faster than average sales cycles (roughly 30 days) and high win rates (>40% for many channels).

Here are five reasons we demo on the first call:

1. It’s what your prospects asked for

If your company schedules inbound demo calls, you likely have a demo-based CTA on your website.

You're in good company. 40.1% of the 5,600+ accounts Navattic canvased offered demo CTAs.

So if you’re like us, and many B2B SaaS buyers, you might find the typical process a bit funny:

  1. Marketing drives qualified leads to your website
  2. Visitors are greeted with a demo-based CTA
  3. They schedule an appointment to see a demo
  4. When they show up…no demo. 

In addition to being misleading to your prospects, it can lead to fractures in sales and marketing alignment.

Our “Get a Demo” landing page explicitly says “See the power of Chili Piper in action today!” and we’re aware that’s what people expect when they click.

Ignoring this, and denying our prospects the ability to view our product, would be a great way to lose credibility from the get-go. And that’s not our style. 

2. Shorter sales cycles

So much that goes into selling software is out of your hands. So, why not control a piece of the sales process that is in your control? 

Sales cycle velocity. 

If you’re refusing to show your product on a Discovery call, you’re missing an opportunity to earn trust and assure your buyers you could help them reach their desired situation with your product or service.

By showing a demo immediately, you’re de-risking the remainder of your sales cycle.

At Chili Piper, our second call with a prospect is almost always an in-depth demo.

Since we took the time to show our prospects on the first call that we do have a solution for the gaps they are trying to fill, it emboldens our Champions to loop in executive sponsors and other leaders at the organization to join our second calls.

That’s the time when they can stress-test an in-depth product demo, go over technical specifications, and review actual buying criteria.

You see, we don’t use our first call demo to circumvent second calls or avoid a more thorough demonstration.

It’s used to build confidence, prove we have a solution for the problems occurring in their business, and show that we understand their needs.

The collaboration makes our buyers feel more comfortable engaging additional stakeholders and allows us to move through the sale process quicker than if we insisted on separate calls.

3. Gotta keep up with the Joneses

And by the Joneses, I mean changes in buyer expectations.

In a world of high expectations and low attention spans, it’s important to make the most of every interaction. 

Before your buyers ever talk to your salespeople, they've already done a large portion of their research. 

They've scoured your website, consumed your video content, read through your G2 reviews, and likely asked one (or more) of your customers about their experience with your product. 

At this point, they’ve created a hypothesis around how your solution can help. So, it’s only natural they want to see what you’ve got and how it stacks up to the requirements they’ve assembled. 

You might not be able to demo all of the possible solutions for the prospect in a single joint disco-demo call. 

But you should take the opportunity to engage your buyer through a guided (albeit, truncated) demo that entices them to schedule the next call — in which you can further refine the use case and customize your demo.

It’s hard enough to schedule additional calls, with only 13% of buyers wanting to have another call or meeting with an expert after their first call. Since we may only have one call to make an impression, we need to prove how our product can deliver desired benefits. 

4. Get additional stakeholders involved, sooner

Sellers today are expected to involve more stakeholders in the decision making process than in the past. At Chili Piper, we’re typically interfacing with senior management, finance, executive sponsors, legal, IT, and end users on any given call. 

That is a lot of people to involve and win over throughout a sales cycle. 

By giving a demo on our first call we can prove that, from a functional perspective, we’re able to meet the needs of the organization. The assurance provided in our first-call demo naturally sets up a second call where we can leverage the confidence we built to quickly engage the IT team and the executive team to come onto a more in-depth second demo.

That second demo is where we deliver a more robust product walk-through, discuss technical specifications with IT, and align what we’ve shown with the executive priorities. 

We’re cutting time and meetings out of our sales cycle and enabling our Champions to engage the other stakeholders quicker. 

5. Because we can 🤷‍♂️ 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention we’re aware this isn’t a possibility for some companies, industries, and salespeople.

Chili Piper is lucky to have a suite of best-in-class solutions for a range of very specific issues and challenges faced by growing revenue teams. 

Some product demos require considerable customization before being able to showcase the type of value they can bring.

Other products have so many modules and features that it’s impossible to know what the prospects might be interested in. In those cases, it’s not likely that it would be beneficial for those types of software providers to show a “demo” on the first call. 

If you take anything away from this article, it should be to start taking inventory and (re)consider whether or not adding the option to provide a sneak-peak into the product on the first call would help your team deliver a digital experience that’s more in line with the preferences of today’s B2B buyers. 

I want to reiterate that we’re not asserting that every company would benefit from giving demos on their first call. There’s too much nuance in B2B software for a generalization like that.

However, there are plenty of companies running sales cycles that are seller-centric, rather than providing a more buyer-led sales experience.

This is an opportunity to consider a new approach that could help you delight your customers and guide you to shorter sales cycles, higher win rates, and more new customers. 

It’s worked for us and we’re confident many other sales orgs could benefit from adopting the practice of demoing their product on Discovery calls.

Don’t let the status quo get in the way of your revenue organization exceeding goals.

If you’re interested in other ways we might be able to help your revenue org perform more efficiently, Check out Chili Piper today.

Other things don’t age as well. 

Like discovery calls.

Or, more specifically, the way they're typically run.

(Unless your sales cycle was penned by Lennon or directed by Coppola, of course).

Because whether we like it or not, things have changed.

For most of sales history (translation: 30 years), B2B SaaS sellers followed a playbook designed by legacy sales orgs to suit the needs of the company.

Often at the expense of the customer experience. 

The traditional B2B SaaS sales process encouraged sales orgs to painstakingly qualify and prod buyers with situational and discovery questions before deciding whether the prospect was qualified enough to get a glimpse of their software solution(s). 

At the time, the only way to gather information about a software product was to go through the sales process, so buyers had no choice but to tolerate it. 

It looked a little something like this 👇

But things are different today than they were in the ’90s and ’00s.

Buyers have as much information as they could ever need to develop an understanding of your product, features, value proposition, public sentiment, and your competitors — right at their fingertips.

They also have the intent and desire to do their own research before ever connecting with a sales professional.

Today’s software purchasing cycle is more of a buyer's journey. And that journey looks a little something like this:

As you can see, the process of buying software has changed. A lot.

That’s why, at Chili Piper, we changed our approach to discovery calls. One that better matches the new buyer’s journey and allows us to meet our buyer’s where they’re at.

One of those differences is that we never deny a demo on our initial Discovery calls. 

Why do we show a demo on the first call? 

At Chili Piper, we don't do things just because convention says so.

After all, the company started as a fully remote team in 2016. Our founders are a married couple. And we chose to turn down investors to bootstrap the growth of Chili Piper for the first three years of our existence.

None of these are normal.

It’s in our DNA to break the mold.

So while it’s been taboo for much of sales history to show a demo on a first call, we've incorporated this step in our Discovery calls for as long as we’ve been selling Chili Piper. It’s worked for us and has helped contribute to our faster than average sales cycles (roughly 30 days) and high win rates (>40% for many channels).

Here are five reasons we demo on the first call:

1. It’s what your prospects asked for

If your company schedules inbound demo calls, you likely have a demo-based CTA on your website.

You're in good company. 40.1% of the 5,600+ accounts Navattic canvased offered demo CTAs.

So if you’re like us, and many B2B SaaS buyers, you might find the typical process a bit funny:

  1. Marketing drives qualified leads to your website
  2. Visitors are greeted with a demo-based CTA
  3. They schedule an appointment to see a demo
  4. When they show up…no demo. 

In addition to being misleading to your prospects, it can lead to fractures in sales and marketing alignment.

Our “Get a Demo” landing page explicitly says “See the power of Chili Piper in action today!” and we’re aware that’s what people expect when they click.

Ignoring this, and denying our prospects the ability to view our product, would be a great way to lose credibility from the get-go. And that’s not our style. 

2. Shorter sales cycles

So much that goes into selling software is out of your hands. So, why not control a piece of the sales process that is in your control? 

Sales cycle velocity. 

If you’re refusing to show your product on a Discovery call, you’re missing an opportunity to earn trust and assure your buyers you could help them reach their desired situation with your product or service.

By showing a demo immediately, you’re de-risking the remainder of your sales cycle.

At Chili Piper, our second call with a prospect is almost always an in-depth demo.

Since we took the time to show our prospects on the first call that we do have a solution for the gaps they are trying to fill, it emboldens our Champions to loop in executive sponsors and other leaders at the organization to join our second calls.

That’s the time when they can stress-test an in-depth product demo, go over technical specifications, and review actual buying criteria.

You see, we don’t use our first call demo to circumvent second calls or avoid a more thorough demonstration.

It’s used to build confidence, prove we have a solution for the problems occurring in their business, and show that we understand their needs.

The collaboration makes our buyers feel more comfortable engaging additional stakeholders and allows us to move through the sale process quicker than if we insisted on separate calls.

3. Gotta keep up with the Joneses

And by the Joneses, I mean changes in buyer expectations.

In a world of high expectations and low attention spans, it’s important to make the most of every interaction. 

Before your buyers ever talk to your salespeople, they've already done a large portion of their research. 

They've scoured your website, consumed your video content, read through your G2 reviews, and likely asked one (or more) of your customers about their experience with your product. 

At this point, they’ve created a hypothesis around how your solution can help. So, it’s only natural they want to see what you’ve got and how it stacks up to the requirements they’ve assembled. 

You might not be able to demo all of the possible solutions for the prospect in a single joint disco-demo call. 

But you should take the opportunity to engage your buyer through a guided (albeit, truncated) demo that entices them to schedule the next call — in which you can further refine the use case and customize your demo.

It’s hard enough to schedule additional calls, with only 13% of buyers wanting to have another call or meeting with an expert after their first call. Since we may only have one call to make an impression, we need to prove how our product can deliver desired benefits. 

4. Get additional stakeholders involved, sooner

Sellers today are expected to involve more stakeholders in the decision making process than in the past. At Chili Piper, we’re typically interfacing with senior management, finance, executive sponsors, legal, IT, and end users on any given call. 

That is a lot of people to involve and win over throughout a sales cycle. 

By giving a demo on our first call we can prove that, from a functional perspective, we’re able to meet the needs of the organization. The assurance provided in our first-call demo naturally sets up a second call where we can leverage the confidence we built to quickly engage the IT team and the executive team to come onto a more in-depth second demo.

That second demo is where we deliver a more robust product walk-through, discuss technical specifications with IT, and align what we’ve shown with the executive priorities. 

We’re cutting time and meetings out of our sales cycle and enabling our Champions to engage the other stakeholders quicker. 

5. Because we can 🤷‍♂️ 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention we’re aware this isn’t a possibility for some companies, industries, and salespeople.

Chili Piper is lucky to have a suite of best-in-class solutions for a range of very specific issues and challenges faced by growing revenue teams. 

Some product demos require considerable customization before being able to showcase the type of value they can bring.

Other products have so many modules and features that it’s impossible to know what the prospects might be interested in. In those cases, it’s not likely that it would be beneficial for those types of software providers to show a “demo” on the first call. 

If you take anything away from this article, it should be to start taking inventory and (re)consider whether or not adding the option to provide a sneak-peak into the product on the first call would help your team deliver a digital experience that’s more in line with the preferences of today’s B2B buyers. 

I want to reiterate that we’re not asserting that every company would benefit from giving demos on their first call. There’s too much nuance in B2B software for a generalization like that.

However, there are plenty of companies running sales cycles that are seller-centric, rather than providing a more buyer-led sales experience.

This is an opportunity to consider a new approach that could help you delight your customers and guide you to shorter sales cycles, higher win rates, and more new customers. 

It’s worked for us and we’re confident many other sales orgs could benefit from adopting the practice of demoing their product on Discovery calls.

Don’t let the status quo get in the way of your revenue organization exceeding goals.

If you’re interested in other ways we might be able to help your revenue org perform more efficiently, Check out Chili Piper today.

Alex Franco

Alex is a Senior Sales Manager at Chili Piper. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Health Policy & Administration before starting his professional career. During working hours you can find Alex leveraging his experience in sales and consulting to come up with creative, data-driven strategies to keep himself and his team at the top of their game. Outside of work, you can find him exploring new restaurants and hanging with friends in Brooklyn. Follow Alex on LinkedIn for more tips on sales in SaaS.

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