How to Schedule a Product Demo and Avoid No-Shows: 5 Proven Steps
There is a right way and a wrong way to schedule a demo during the sales process. If you don’t put enough thought and effort into the “scheduling” part of your demo, you can potentially derail the entire sale.
Scheduling the meeting is not merely an administrative task in between qualifying your prospect and delivering the demo. It’s a critical step in the sales process that requires a sound strategy to:
- Schedule the right date and time for the demo
- Invite key decision-makers
- Ensure proper handover from SDR to Account Executive
- Take appropriate measures to avoid no-shows
- Automate your scheduling process to maximize efficiency and prevent human errors
If you have already qualified your prospects with a proper discovery, you should have the information you need to determine if a product demo is worth your and their time, and how your solution can help them reach their goals. Don’t let scheduling hiccups get in the way of your sale!
Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to schedule product demos in a way that keeps the sale moving forward and puts you one step closer to winning the account.
Why Scheduling a Demo Properly Matters
You just had a positive discovery call, but for whatever reason, you didn’t schedule the demo at the end of the call. The clock is now ticking. If you don’t schedule it in a timely and efficient manner, you will create an uphill battle that’s hard to win.
Everyone is busy. The chances of getting all the key decision-makers on the same call at the same time can sometimes be a near-impossible task. It doesn’t matter that the prospects are interested in your solution; your mission is to find ways to move them along to the demo.
Playing a game of “schedule ping-pong” can create unnecessary friction and frustration. When 80% of your prospects believe that product demos are helpful, the only thing standing in your way is an inefficient scheduling process.
At this stage, your primary challenge is not to convince the prospect that a demo is important; it’s all about removing the scheduling barriers to ensure they show up.
How to Schedule a Demo the Right Way
There are a lot of moving parts that you’ll need to consider, including booking all the various decision-makers for the right dates and times, coordinating a handoff if an account executive is giving the demo and sending reminder emails with the right messaging to reduce no-shows.
Let’s take it step by step.
Step One: Schedule the best date and time for the demo
As a rule of thumb, always schedule the demo while you’re still on the discovery call with the prospect. Your chances after the call drop dramatically. Strike while the iron is hot and you have their full attention on the call.
When you are discussing the demo meeting, take the pressure off by letting them suggest the times that work best for them. But at the same time, you need to give them a scheduling framework so that you set the demo up for success. A few best practices include:
- The demo date should occur within 5 business days of your call. You don’t want to wait too long and risk losing them to a competitor, and at the same time, you want to keep the momentum going.
- It’s best to ask for a 30 to 45-minute slot. The length of the meeting is an essential factor. You don’t want to take too much time away from your prospects’ busy lives.
- For the best time and day, we recommend between 3 pm and 5 pm on Monday through Thursday. Never schedule calls on Monday morning or Friday afternoons. Also, try to avoid days before or after a holiday or vacation.
Scheduling tip: Tools like Demodesk help you schedule the demo in the right time zone.
What if you don’t schedule the demo on the call?
If you are unable to book the demo on your call, the ball is in your court to send a scheduling email that makes it easy for your prospects to find a date and time that works for them.
Have your scheduling email written in advance, so you can fill in any last-minute details from the discovery call and send it to them within 15 minutes after the call. Again, timing is everything. You want them to schedule the meeting ASAP before they move on to something else.
You can make it very easy for them by including a booking link from your scheduling software so they can see the available slots and schedule the demo without the pressure of responding to multiple emails. With a tool like Demodesk, you can also integrate the scheduling calendar into your website with your branding.
Step Two: Invite the decision-makers to the demo
At this stage of the sale, you’ve qualified your buyers. This means you should have a good idea of the key decision-makers. Have they RSVP’d to the demo?
Sometimes you’ll confirm a date and time for the demo, but it might not be with the right people. You should have at least one major stakeholder participate in the demo meeting. If you’ve received a confirmation for the meeting from someone that does not have that authority, ask them to invite a decision-maker to join the demo with them.
As an incentive, let them know that you will have special guests attending specifically to answer the questions posed by that stakeholder. For example, if you learned that the decision-maker is concerned with highly technical questions, you can bring a Sales Engineer in to speak to the more technical aspects of the demo.
Bringing specialists into the demo to address specific needs shows the buyer that you intend to help them and to find the right fit, not just to sell.
Identify the people who need to be in the demo meeting and find ways to make them join. When you schedule the demo with the decision-maker, you’ll shorten the sales cycle saving your prospects time and money in the long run.
Step Three: Ensure proper handover from SDR to Account Executive
In most sales organizations, multiple people are working on a particular deal. For example, a Sales Development Representative (SDR or BDR) often takes the lead during qualifying, while an Account Executive (AE) is responsible for the demo.
If the point person who has built a rapport with the prospect is not the one leading the demo, you need to ensure a proper handover to avoid any hiccups or surprises. Have a process in place and, if possible, implement software to centralize the details and keep communications flowing.
Automated sales tools like Demodesk can help you avoid communication breakdowns with:
- Automated Demo Handover: Automatically handover meetings to the right AE to ensure fair distribution and correct assignment. Depending on the size of your team, you can take a combination of multiple criteria into account – like territory or account-based ownership, customer profile, availabilities, and AE workload.
- CRM Logging: Integrate your scheduling tool with your CRM and automatically log all information – such as scheduling date, meeting date, participants, meeting duration, invitee accepts or declines, and more.
- Team Scheduling: An online master schedule for your organization will prevent you from scheduling demos back-to-back and leave enough prep time for your Account Executives if they are giving demos for other accounts.
Don’t let your internal process be the bottleneck to closing the sale. By implementing a standardized process powered by an automated tool, you will avoid the common information-sharing pitfalls that plague so many organizations.
Step Four: Take appropriate measures to avoid no-shows
Unfortunately, no-shows are impossible to completely avoid. On the positive side, we’ve seen no-show rates decrease by over 50% when appropriate reminder emails are sent.
The best time to send a reminder email is during work hours, one day (24 hours) before the demo. You can personalize your emails and set them to be sent automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Scheduling software enables you to send different types of reminders automatically based on custom rules, e.g., whether your prospect has accepted the meeting or not. This type of email customization can improve response rates by over 32% from emails that are not personalized.
Email automation saves you time and the instant response gives your prospect assurance that you are one step ahead.
When you write the email, remember your goal is not only to remind them of the meeting but to sell the demo one last time. Why should the prospect take time out of his or her schedule to see this demo?
Your prospects have other things on their minds, so don’t assume they’ll remember all the details from the previous call. Make sure you include the demo meeting agenda and the goals so they can prepare for the call in advance.
Here’s a handy template for your next reminder email:
Reminder Email Checklist:
- Don’t send emails outside of working hours
- Personalize it as much as you can (software allows you to personalize at scale)
- Add value (Case studies, one-pagers, article, etc.) and track opens
- Include the meeting agenda and goals
- Make it easy to reschedule (use a scheduling tool)
- ALWAYS be friendly yet professional
What if they don’t show?
There are plenty of reasons people don’t show up for a demo. It doesn’t mean they lost interest. Keep your emotions in check and follow up professionally.
In most cases, something else came up that was more urgent. Here is an email template you can send to no-shows.
Step Five: Automate your scheduling process to maximize efficiency and avoid human errors
Coordinating schedules for multiple people can quickly turn into a nightmare. Whether it is the barrage of back-and-forth emails or the last-minute changes that affect everyone, managing schedules manually can turn a potential sale into a no-show.
You don’t want to waste valuable time for you or your prospects by unnecessarily checking multiple calendars, writing too many emails, or balancing opportunity distribution on error-prone Excel sheets.
Software tools like Demodesk completely automate manual scheduling tasks and remove the friction. For example, you can use custom templates and automate all of your invitation and reminder emails. Your demo participants will receive personalized messages at predefined times so you don’t have to waste time worrying about it.
Don’t Overlook Demo Scheduling
Believe it or not, poor scheduling practices can derail months of spectacular sales work. You’ve successfully prospected and qualified a buyer who is a perfect fit for your solution.
Don’t let archaic online calendars, too many emails, and inaccurate spreadsheets get in the way of your sale!
When you treat your demo scheduling with the importance it deserves, you’ll avoid the needless friction and move to the demo like a well-oiled machine.
Want to learn more about Discovery? Check our Sales Discovery Playbook for Winning Product Demos.
Ready for your demo? Take a look at these 10 Best Practices from the Brightest Sales Leaders.
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