Accelerating Software Sales in a No-Touch World with Virtual PoCs and Demos

Author: 
Annie Reiss, Chief Marketing Officer, CloudShare

While businesses determine how to safely return to something resembling a pre-COVID world, software sales teams are still racing to meet their quotas and keep business moving. Today, the stakes are higher than ever for them to make a good impression. 

According to Gerry Brown, customer experience (CX) research director at IDC, 80% of buyers will disengage from a vendor if they grow dissatisfied with the sales and marketing team, even if they like their product. With personal contact limited these days, teams are already at a disadvantage.

So how can they be successful in this new no-touch world? Here are some ways that sales teams can remain productive and maximize opportunities with prospects. 

Connect

One of the most apparent challenges when working remotely is making that all-important connection with a prospect. Overcoming the in-person aspect is possible with technology like Zoom and Skype, but merely using them is not enough.

Eye-contact is paramount, even virtually, so be sure to use your communication platform’s video function. Smile and be personable. Remember that you’re still selling yourself, in addition to your product. According to Gong, “Closed deals involved the use of webcams 41% more often than lost deals.”

Making sure the platform matches your presentation style is an important consideration. Zoom and other web conference tools each have different strengths and interfaces, so select a platform that has the features that best meet your approach. 

Still, when it comes to complex enterprise software, a static show-and-tell won’t be enough to fully illustrate the value and benefits of your product. Further, buyers want to see exact product tackling true-to-life pain points. This requires fortifying your presentation with a cloud-based virtual demonstration or proof-of-concept (PoC). 

Virtual Demos and PoCs

If you’ve reached this phase in sales prospecting, it’s go time. This is where the technology gets to speak for itself and deals are won and lost. However, a demo or PoC will only be as good as the platform supporting it; if it falls short on performance, you’re out of luck. As IDC’s Brown noted, “Failure at the product demo or PoC stage not only loses deals, but also risks losing customer value for life.”

One of the biggest obstacles for sales teams is succinctly educating prospects on complex software. Further, learning-by-doing is one of the best methods for retention. The ability to showcase software in action in real-world scenarios is one of the most effective ways a prospect can learn how a solution will benefit their business, and putting the controls in their hands is especially convincing. 

And “effective” doesn’t just mean accurately and powerfully representing the technology. The process needs to be efficient and fast for teams - and simple for prospects and their companies. 

Accelerate With the Cloud

According to IDC research, 77% of enterprise software vendors said the ability to conduct product demos via cloud-based virtual environments was their most important tool. 70% of respondents said that being able to customize for individual prospect needs was a top priority. 

IDC’s data revealed further challenges in closing deals when showcasing PoCs:

  • 52% reported prospects “sometimes” or “often” abandoned PoCs in progress
  • 50% needed significant technical support during PoC installations
  • 47% reported the prospects’ computing environment could not support the PoC process
  • Nearly all – 99% – wanted more actionable insight, including embedded analytics

Cloud-based virtual IT labs can enable sales teams to reach a prospect, regardless of location, so long as they have a browser and internet connection. Teams can easily upload exact software to a realistic production environment that provides easy access. And with the right virtual IT labs platform, all the above pain points cited above by IDC can be addressed. 

For instance, being remote-friendly and non-dependent on hardware helps eliminate the need for IT support and transporting equipment, which also reduces the cost and hassle of travel. And if you utilize a business acceleration cloud platform - one that offers purpose-built tools and automates functions - tasks can be automated and sales cycles further shortened.

IDC stated, “By leveraging the latest innovations in cloud-based virtual labs, software vendors can ensure smooth and reliable demonstrations and PoCs at scale and empower their business development efforts with the actionable customer insights needed to boost sales.”

Leverage Data

Gaining data and insights into the prospect’s usage of a PoC or test drive is invaluable, as indicated in IDC’s research. The right virtual IT lab platform can provide transparency into usage, starting with if the prospect ran into trouble or abandoned the PoC altogether.

This type of insight can allow sales to follow up and offer useful assistance to make sure the prospect keeps exploring and learning about the solution’s value. This visibility can also reveal which features they valued most, where they made progress and what areas they may have missed.

Danger and Opportunity

John F. Kennedy once noted, “In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.”

We’re aware of the physical dangers presented by this pandemic, and preventing them remains the top priority. Still, as the business world attempts to return to normal, it’s important to realize things can never really go back to the way they were. This could happen again. The opportunity for businesses is to create a resilient, lasting means for their teams to rise above the limits of no-touch situations now and in the future.

Thankfully, there’s more that can be achieved in sales enablement today with the cloud and purpose-built tools. Forward thinking sales leaders that embrace new tech are the ones whose organizations and people will not only weather the storm, but thrive.

Annie Reiss is chief marketing officer at CloudShare, a cloud computer provider of virtual training and demos.