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5 Ways to Improve Sales Demo Show Rates

6 min read
Updated Oct. 18, 2023
Published Jul. 10, 2019

Here is an observation that is sure to shock you: People can be flaky.

I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Now that you’ve recovered, let’s talk about demo show rates. An age-old problem in sales is prospects agreeing to a product demonstration and then no-showing. Short of hypnosis, there is no way to getting people to do what they’ve committed to 100% of the time. However, we have a few suggestions that might help.

Let’s start at the beginning. More than anything else, the most important part of increasing your demo show rates is vetting prospects to ensure that they are properly qualified. There should be a certain level of buy-in from the prospect before a demo is scheduled. Your time, as well as theirs, is valuable and there’s no sense wasting it on a product demonstration that doesn’t benefit anyone. Is your offering a good fit? Can you identify a hypothesis of need? What is the specific pain point you can solve?

Assuming you’ve spent the time vetting and qualifying leads, here are a few things we’ve found to be effective in keeping demo show rates up.

5 Ways to Improve Demo Show Rates

1. Build Value

Is your prospect coming into your scheduled demo show with the understanding of the value you offer? When show rates start to drop off, it often indicates that you aren’t building enough value up front. If a potential customer is ‘bought in’ to the fact that you may have the solution to a problem they’re experiencing, they are much more likely to honor their commitment to a demo.

Spend time independently researching industry trends and reading recent news about the company. Use your findings to craft a message that provides real value before the demo ever occurs. Providing value up front signals that the rep actually cares and imparts a feeling of reciprocity that means the prospect is more likely to show up.

2. Involve Your Team

SDRs and AEs can help each other out by adding additional voices. Having the AE emails the prospect in advance adds legitimacy. Use the research your team has already done to frame a conversation that demonstrates an understanding of the prospect’s needs. Include well-educated questions based on what you’ve learned to further pique their interest and stand out among the competition.

Advice on sales demo from Rob Falcone

3. Start Telling a Story Early

Early in the customer journey, paint a picture of success the prospect can identify with. Tell a customer story that aligns to allow the prospect to imagine their own journey to success. If you can establish a connection between your solution and their pain point, it goes a long way to keep them invested in the process.

Relevant parallel customer journeys reassure prospects that you’ve been through this before, and you have the ability to also solve their problem. This goes beyond simply creating value. It positions you as a business partner that understands what keeps them up at night and is invested in their success.

4. Don’t Delay the Demo

If you’re scheduling demos more than a few days in advance, it can negatively impact your show rate. An informal survey of SDRs at a SaaS company showed that, when the demo was scheduled 2.5 days out, show rates were about 90%. When that lead time was extended to 4 days, the show rate dropped to 70%.

Scheduling demos sooner gives prospect less time to forget about their commitment. It also conveys urgency and a desire by the SDR to solve the prospect’s problem sooner rather than later.

5. Confirm. Rinse. Repeat.

When you schedule a demo with a client, make sure and reiterate the time and the date and get confirmation. Let them know that you value your time as much as theirs. This is a good time to reiterate the relevant customer journey story (see #3 above) and assure them you’ll be showing them how your product can also solve their pain.

It doesn’t have to be deadly serious – you aren’t trying to get them to show for a court date. Use a little humor to help drive home the idea that they want to show up. Here’s an example:

SDR: Hey, Joe. I just want to confirm that we’re good to demo on tomorrow at 2 pm.

Prospect: That still works for me.

SDR: Awesome. I’m including my senior implementation consultant on that call. She was a key player in the customer story we discussed earlier. I think her insight into your specific situation will add a lot of value for you.

Prospect: Okay, thanks.

SDR: Great! So barring any outbreak of an Oregon Trail-like disease, I can expect you there?

Prospect: *chuckle* I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Bonus tip: Text them an hour before to confirm.

6. Bring in the Big Guns

For a key account, it might be necessary to pull in senior members of your team to illustrate the importance of the meeting. Having someone from your management team reach out adds to the legitimacy of the demo.

Unsure of who to involve? Mirror the level of seniority you’re working with on the prospect side with firepower from your end. For example, if you’re scheduling a demo with the CRO at a larger target account, ask your CEO reach out in advance and express interest in their business needs. When the directive is coming from the C-suite, a prospect is unlikely to miss the demo.

When in doubt, ask your sales manager for advice.

Let’s be real.

We can’t change human nature. There are no certainties in life. There might actually be an outbreak of dysentery while fording a river. You’ll probably still experience a no-show periodically. However, keep these tips in mind next time you’re scheduling a demo and you’ll hopefully experience a lot less of them.

Looking for more ways to conduct a successful demo? Check out our episode of the Hey Salespeople podcast with Rob Falcone, Director of Sales Engineering at Guru and author of Just Effing DemoListen to the full episode here for more insights on demoing.

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