Demos in the Time of COVID-19

I was just having a chat with a friend of mine whose SaaS company is taking off. They are strictly B2B and have the time-tested Schedule a Demo button featured prominently on their website. Clicking the button leads to a small and easy to fill out form. Once completed, you are either screened out or contacted almost immediately to schedule a demo with a salesperson.

  1. It allows the company (via the salesperson) to be a part of the experience. They can help guide the prospect to ensure that she is having the right experience with the software.

  2. The company can learn something about the prospect, her industry and what she is looking for.

  3. It is much easier to qualify in or out after having a brief conversation with the prospect.

We were talking about hosting demos online, without a gate, that anyone can find and navigate on their own. Microsoft is doing just such a thing with both Teams and Education. You can see some great examples currently on the Teams and EDU websites.

He was loathe to remove the Schedule a Demo button and far be it from me to get in the way of a good thing. It did get me thinking however, if he was missing out on opportunities, especially now in the time of COVID-19. So I did a little research to see what B2B buyers care about in this crazy new COVID-19 world.

Better yet, I figured it’s better to just read other people’s research. It turns out, Demand Gen has been doing a B2B Buyers Survey for years. Not to be outdone, both Forrester and McKinsey also have B2B buyer studies completed during this COVID pandemic. So, armed with a bunch of facts and figures from some of the most well-known consultancies on the planet and after nearly 2 decades of helping companies tell their product story through demos, I’m happy to share my opinion!

Here’s what B2B buyers are actually doing before they come close to hitting their Schedule a Demo button:

COVID-19 buyers expect high quality content

In each of the past three years of Demand Gen’s study, B2B buyers stated that they are spending more time researching vendor options before reaching out to vendors. In fact, each year, roughly 75% of buyers stated that they spend more time researching solutions before contacting sellers than they did in the prior year.

Fig. 1:Year over year, the vast majority of b2b buyers are self-reporting they spend more time on self-directed research.

Fig. 1:Year over year, the vast majority of b2b buyers are self-reporting they spend more time on self-directed research.

This is crazy growth! It is also unsurprising in an economy that is becoming more and more digital each year.

In fact, with COVID-19, our move to digital is being turbo-boosted. Since our global pandemic started, McKinsey reports that B2B buyers’ preference for digital interactions has increased to more than twice that of traditional sales interactions.

Unsurprisingly, your website needs content that will resonate with buyers. In fact, 97% of B2B buyers in Demand Gen’s post-COVID survey stated that it is important that vendor websites offer relevant content that speaks directly to their company. They also said it was important that content was easy to access (i.e., no or minimal gates).

Fig. 2: A depiction of the other 3% of survey respondents who eschew the electric lightbulb as a passing fad.


Fig. 2: A depiction of the other 3% of survey respondents who eschew the electric lightbulb as a passing fad.

Wait? Are you telling me that COVID-19 marks the extinction of salespeople?

Heck No! Quite the opposite. Salespeople are still incredibly important in the B2B sales cycle. Almost every B2B buyer surveyed by Demand Gen stated that a knowledgeable sales rep is one of the key differentiators in a sale. My argument is that both are important and sales is moving later in the buying cycle.

Give COVID buyers a product experience early in their buying cycle

There is a space for a short, teaser length user-driven product demo, hosted prominently on your site that gives the 97% of buyers who are looking for that relevant and rich content something to sink their teeth into before they follow up and take the logical next step – Scheduling a Demo with your knowledgeable sales rep who can show them the bigger picture with a deeper and more descriptive demo. Demos can show up over all the stages of a buying cycle, from a short teaser early on to a multi-day deep dive when the buyer brings in the technical troops to vet your product. In fact, we have broken down the various places we’ve seen demos be useful across the buying cycle in a prior blog post.

And, of course, when you are ready for that web-hosted product simulation. Consider getting in touch. It’s what we do!