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Trials and demos can be an important part of your sales cycle, especially in the enterprise space. Another term for a trial or demo, is the “Monkey’s Paw,” which is a small version of your larger service or a consulting project. A successful Monkey’s Paw has three components, which are similar to a successful trial.

  1. A Monkey’s Paw is always paid for. Anything else is called “free consulting.”
  2. A Monkey’s Paw must be a low risk choice for your prospect. The simplest way to lower the risk is to offer a percentage of the Monkey’s Paw investment off their first invoice should your prospect become a client and tell your client that they can walk away with no penalty after you deliver the Monkey’s Paw
  3. A Monkey’s Paw must provide real value to your prospect. A Monkey’s Paw isn’t splitting your service into phases (that’s a strategy for a different article). It is a distinct sale that allows you to demonstrate your expertise and create rapport with your prospect so they think “why wouldn’t I want to keep working with them” while giving your prospect valuable information that they could implement on their own if they chose.

Running around selling Monkeys’ Paw or trials/demos isn’t going to get you to your sales target for the year.

Coach your salespeople on three mindsets as it relates to trials and demos.

  1. No free trials – real prospects will put skin in the game. If your prospect isn’t willing to give you some small amount of money, some clients ask for $50, they aren’t a real prospect.
  2. Never do anything unless you know why you’re doing it – one of David Sandler’s rules is especially applicable for trials and demos. In some cases, your prospect may discover, when you inquire about why they want a demo, that all they wanted to do was talk through a couple of key outcomes they’re seeking from your service then close the whole sale.
  3. Get an IOU for everything you do – another Sandler Rule that applies to trials in you getting an IOU from your prospect, typically in the form of a review meeting booked prior to their trial starting, for you doing a trial.

With those three mindsets locked in hold your people accountable to two behaviors when setting up trials and demos.

  1. Define what success looks like on both sides – having your prospect define what success looks like to them before you start gives your salespeople a chance to address any potential problems in advance, especially if your prospect wants to see, hear or experience something that your product doesn’t do. By defining what success looks like on your side your salespeople maintain Equal Business Stature and potentially shorten the length of the demo. Just like prospects aren’t thinking about your salespeople after they leave their office prospects typically aren’t engaging with your product every day of their trial.
  2. Agreed before the trial happens what will happen if your prospect loves what they see and get a review meeting in the calendar before the trial ends – if your salespeople don’t get the meeting in the calendar before they start it will happen well past the trial end, which your prospect will ask to extend, or your prospect will disappear putting your salespeople in “voicemail jail.” Defining what happens is your prospect loves their trial takes the pressure of them and you at the review meeting, which increases your chances of closing

When successfully setting up a trial or demo there’s one technique to use that comes from Sandler’s Rule “if you want to know the future bring it to the present.”

“Let’s pretend” – that may sound like, “Prospect, let’s pretend you had a trial of our product. What do you need to see, hear or experience to be comfortable selecting our product?” or “Prospect, let’s pretend we’re meeting to review your trial and you loved it. What would happen next?”

Pretending is a low pressure approach to get your prospect to define success on their terms. When it comes out of their mouth it’s real. When it comes out of your mouth you’re a pushy salesperson.

If trials and demos are a regular part of your sales cycle retake control from your prospects by getting some skin in the game from them, defining success and next steps up front and getting a meeting in the calendar to review before you start.



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