Funnel velocity refers to the speed at which potential customers move through different stages of a sales or marketing funnel, from initial awareness to conversion. It is a metric used to measure the effectiveness of a company's sales and marketing efforts in converting leads into customers.
Buyer intent is at an all time high
When a prospect is on your website, they often have a specific problem they are looking to solve. They've discovered your product and they are at the awareness / education stage of the funnel.
While your "book a demo" button is intending to solve their next immediate need (trying the product out), it actually ends up putting a huge hurdle in front of their progression toward becoming a paying customer.
Prospects find this "trick" extremely disappointing. When they click "try it now" or "book a demo" what they are actually saying is:
"I like what you're offering so much that I'd be willing to try it right now."
So they click on the link and are presented with a form which offers them:
- A delay to their next goal (trying your platform out)
- A social and time commitment that they might not want or need in order to purchase your product
- In some cases (often it's just the form!), a walk-through video or screenshot that doesn't actually involve them getting to try and feel your SaaS product for themselves.
None of the outcomes listed above are as effective as the prospect trying the product out immediately, even though plenty of businesses want to put this blocker in place.
Marketers are hamstrung by practicalities
There are a million reasons why marketers don't offer an immediate way to try out the product. Here are a few that we've come across:
Product is too complex to have a self-guided demo
Dropping a prospect into your platform without a guide can lead to a negative perception of your offering. This is particularly the case when the product is:
- Very complex
- Utilizes data that might not exist yet
- Requires a lot of knowledge about the problem-space
- Needs configuration, team members or users on-boarded
Creating a sandbox environment is too difficult
Development and engineering teams would love to have a solution for their marketing and sales function that shows off what they are building. The challenge with this is that it can be extremely complicated to create a demo environment that effectively demonstrates the platform for a wide variety of reasons. We've encountered a few of these issues in our time:
- Dashboards & Data: Fake data is very difficult to generate on an ongoing basis, but for enterprise applications this is often the most valuable thing you can present. Having a cohesive narrative to that data is even more challenging.
- Authentication: Creating simplified ways of accessing your platform is the antithesis of security. The security team within your engineering function can find it very challenging to find the commercial balance to providing access to the app, without effectively removing some very valid and necessary constraints on access to your system.
- Ongoing Maintenance: How do you reset the sandbox, when does that occur, is it every day, week, month? This needs to be automated/set-and-forget, but doing that requires even more development time. Even if you do automate it, how do you make sure the maintenance is being kept in lock-step with the application as it changes over time? It's really, really easy to accidentally break your sandbox environment.
- On-boarding Tutorial Tooltips: Once you've solved the challenges above, providing context to those new users is really important. You could implement a series of onboarding tooltips to improve the experience, but this requires more development time and requires your engineering team to include the product marketing function in the development process on an on-going basis. Otherwise, your tooltips can end up out-of-sync or worse, removed unintentionally because there is a need to change the underlying UI/UX.
We don't want to deliver a "generic" demonstration
It's important to remember what the prospect's intent is at this specific moment.
They've identified that they have a problem, understood roughly what your solution offers and they are interested in seeing how it actually works. In a sense, they want proof that the solution actually exists and that if they wanted to solve their problem immediately, it would be possible.
"Generic" is a limiting perspective, it's possible to identify the motivations of the prospect and direct them to a demonstration that represents an approximation of the solution to their problem - they aren't expecting perfection here, this is just the next stage of educating themselves.
If you have a tool that differs in delivery between industries, it's almost a certainty that the call your team has with them will show them a demonstration suited to that industry. This is a generic demo, it's just been refined for a specific prospect persona.
Interactive product demos are the answer
Crafting a demo, or collection of demos that work for every inbound prospect isn't easy (we're happy to help you though!). The counter argument to this is: Yes - The empty, unconfigured, complicated, awesome, amazing SaaS platform that you and your team have built isn't very inspiring if you're dropped into it without any context.
The demo calls delivered by your sales team and prepared and maintained by sales enablement are an excellent starting point to understanding how you can cater to different prospect requirements.
Prospects who decide to click on the "Book a demo", "Request a demo" or "Try it now" buttons will generally fit into two categories:
- For prospects who want a sales call: Use an interactive demo to give them an immediate result while the call gets arranged. This gets them excited for the call, and gives your sales function breathing room to perfect the pitch.
- For prospects who are more interested in self-assessing product fit: Use an interactive demo to give them that self-assessment and progress them more quickly to the next stage of the sales cycle.
You can craft something that captures your prospect's imagination and feeds their immediate need to understand your product better.
This could be enough to close the deal, or at the very least it carries them through to the call with a richer understanding of what you offer and makes that call even more productive. Most importantly, in both situations, you are increasing the velocity of your sales funnel.
If you're interested in getting started, we have a great article on the Interactive Product Demo Hierarchy, that's helpful for approaching this tool from a structured perspective.