The Recent CSO Insights Report Is


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The authors report that those organizations that train their sales teams in presentation and demonstration skills enjoy marked increases in close rates. Here’s more detail…

The CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization 2009 Survey Results and Analysis notes that:

• Selling is getting harder. (1)

• The top objective for Sales Management in 2009 is to “Increase Revenues”. (2)

• The second highest objective for Sales Management in 2009 is to “Increase Sales Effectiveness”. (3)

Happily, the authors do offer a solution: they suggest that “2009 needs to be about investing your way to sales effectiveness.” Here are a few pearls extracted from their report for your consideration…

1. Organizations are finding that they can deliver presentations and demos via web-based meetings.

The report specifically recommends exploring training for sales teams to operate effectively in web-based demos and presentations – this may have a large pay-off in reduced cost-of-sales.

2. Fewer leads are converting to first conversations, and fewer of these initial conversations are leading to demos.

This suggests that demo success is more important than ever. The demos delivered to those prospects that do mature to the “see a demo” stage need to have the highest probability of success. Demos cannot be left to chance – there need to be clear processes for executing pre-demo discovery, demo preparation and delivery.

It is becoming unacceptable to lose a sale because “the demo didn’t go well…”

3. [OK, you gotta love this…]

“One trend that is worth exploring is: What exactly are we trying to accomplish during a presentation or demonstration? In the 90’s we saw a lot of emphasis on making sure salespeople clearly articulated the capabilities/features of their offerings and also the benefits the prospect could expect to achieve.

Today however, with the vast amount of product information already in the hands of potential clients via the Internet, the focus of the presentation/demonstration needs to go beyond features and benefits. We are seeing more demand from clients for a clear understanding of their problems and potential solutions. And when a sales team is able to effectively present how their solution matches a prospect’s need, the rewards are significant…”

What a wonderful argument for a Great Demo! Workshop…!

There’s more: according to the report, the ability to align a solution to customer needs impacts

a. the subsequent conversion rates for sales opportunities (pipeline progress)
b. forecast accuracy

The authors note:

“This insight may make it worth the time and effort to review exactly what your sales teams are trying to accomplish… Is the sales messaging they are using product-centric or customer/solution-centric? At the end of a meeting, can your prospects repeat back how they could work with you to achieve gain or remove pain? Are your reps not only helping prospects see what can be accomplished, but also providing a clear path as to how this improvement can be achieved?”

4. Strangely enough, (he offered with gentle cynicism…), the authors report that those organizations that trained their sales teams in presentation and demonstration skills enjoyed marked increases in close rates.

The moral? Many organizations today are saying that they can’t afford the budget to train their sales and presales teams; successful organizations are saying they can’t afford not to train their teams!

CSO Insights’ full report is available for purchase and can be found here:

(1) It was pointed out this was rather obvious…
(2) Ditto.
(3) Ditto ditto.

For more tips and articles on demonstration effectiveness skills and methods, email me at [email protected] or visit our website at For demo tips, best practices, tools and techniques, join the DemoGurus Community Website at or explore our blog at

Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


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