Sales people have been giving tech demos for a long time. Are we getting any better at it? – IBM technology demonstration 1961

Top of the funnel metrics require that SDRs book discovery calls and schedule demos, yet the value of those interactions can be difficult to quantify. SDRs motivated only by activity metrics cast a precariously wide net, without gathering adequate sales intelligence. This article suggests a framework for analyzing the Client Pain Profile (CPP) to guide discovery, focus demos, and further clarify the SDR and AE roles.

The Theory:

A robust client pain profile, combined with one or more trigger events, may lead to an increase in close rates, and higher retention rates, than an incomplete discovery and generic or rushed demo.

The hypothesis above is based on the research and conclusions of four leading sales trainers who shared their findings at the 2015 PipelineDeals Accelerate Sales Conference and Sales Hacker Workshop with Microsoft in Seattle, WA.

Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst with TOPO, a research, advisory, and consulting firm, shared three key ways on how buyer-centric teams succeed:

  1. A clearly mapped out sales engagement strategy
  2. Pre-demo discovery that leads to a white-glove trial
  3. A five-step closing plan that address client specific pain points

Top sales teams execute and quantify discovery data before a demo.

Furthermore, feature-specific demos focused mostly on the product are often unsuccessful, especially if they are lacking client specific data.

As discovery is a critical milestone, what role does an SDR play in the discovery process, and how is that discovery record shared with the AE and the Customer Success teams? And don’t forget Marketing – how can this critical information help your front-line lead-generators in creating a narrative that resonates with the specific and solvable pain points uncovered?

The introduction of robust Client Pain Profile (CPP), tied to discovery data, suggests a broader and deeper understanding of pain that, combined with trigger events, will help increase deal flow.  To start, create a framework for developing your CPP, as described below.

Developing Your Client Pain Profile

Defining your CPP is a critical step to the success of your sales process.

Richard Harris, Principal with The Harris Consulting Group, shared his framework for mapping a client’s willingness to engage with sales teams as a function of a complex set of requirements, described as client pain points.

Develop a matrix that outlines five levels of pain for every organization you interact with, based on your buyer persona. Include a simple range such as high, medium, low for each pain area. Then decide which aspect of the pain profile you will address first.

  1. Immediate pain (Help today)
  2. Economic Pain (Help saving time and money)
  3. Organizational Pain (Help with the transition)
  4. Inherent Pain of Not Changing (Help to mobilize change)
  5. Pain Associated with Change (Help overcoming the fear of change)

By creating a deeper understanding of a shared or universal pain across an organization, you build the alliance necessary to reach a buying decision. But what does this suggest for the SDR role and the metrics they are measured on?

Conquer the Rush to Demo

Once the SDR has defined an initial CPP, the AE may benefit from additional discovery to avoid engaging the prospect in a generic or stock demo. In fact, a demo without discovery can often leave a prospect feeling left out in the cold.

Remember that a discovery is intended to engage the prospect to reveal details associated with their CPP, not to engage in a scripted “interview”. Often, the prospect is willing to reveal more information once a level of trust has been established and this may take a series of phone calls, emails, and social touches. Many prospects will also share additional stakeholder contact information once trust is been established.

CPP and Trigger Events

Craig Elias (Principal with Shift Selling) referenced internal scoops as the most powerful, such as a budget increase, change in personnel, and other status quo disruptors. All organizations experience this type of change, and by mapping potential trigger events onto the prospect CPP, you are closer to closing a potential deal.

There are many trigger events such as office expansion, product upgrades, and even competitor product upgrades. For example, if you identify elements of the prospect software stack and renewal dates, you will know the best times to introduce a new solution. Trigger events can and should be part of the SDR role, and should be compensated as part of a sales intelligence quota. Initial sales intelligence can be vetted during discovery calls, and also during product demos.

Internal Business Scoops

Examples of Sales Intelligence Scoops


Sales teams presenting their platform or solution within the context of a robust CPP may be in a better position to leverage trigger events when they occur. Another way of thinking about this is leveraging an opportunity that is born out of clarifying the benefits of change, which fuels a deeper sense of urgency within the organization and ultimately serves the desired outcomes of the client.

Bridge the Success Gap

Lincoln Murphy (Customer Success Evangelist with Gainsight) spoke clearly regarding his research that defines the success gap as the difference between what your product does, and the desired outcomes your client needs or wants.

Desired outcomes vary by persona within large organizations. As outbound sales moves towards an account-based approach, SDR’s must adopt a persona specific approach to build the foundation for a consensus decision by establishing relationships with multiple stakeholders in an organization.

All buyers are concerned with one or more of the following business requirements:

  1. Saving Time, especially with complex reporting
  2. Understanding how analytics can improve business process
  3. Clearly linking process to increasing revenue and/or decreasing expense
  4. Retaining top talent, especially in markets that experience a talent deficit

A discovery and demo process that aligns CPP and scoops with a focus on required business outcomes is much more engaging and influential on the buyer’s journey.


Now that buyers have access to more information regarding competing products and services, simply providing prospects with demos is not enough.

Are we embracing an an old sales model with new high powered sales tools that accentuates the disconnect between buyer and seller? Sales Training and coaching emphasizes product knowledge and sales process – but little or no time is spent understanding buyer personas and the scoops that precipitate a need for a buyer to replace or add a new SaaS solution.

Due to increased use of automated outbound solicitations, building trust is emerging as a key differentiator for inside sales. One key to building trust is using the best tools to gather sales intelligence, along with a framework and testing how improved discovery, tailored demos, robust CPP’s and trigger events all contribute to increased deal flow.

Finally, develop SDR metrics that incentivize discovery leading to customized demos that help define CPP at the top of the sales funnel. An SDR that is compensated for identifying actionable sales intelligence for targeted accounts may prove more effective than highly transactional lead based outreach.

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About the author

Chris Ortolano

Chris Ortolano has developed, consulted, and delivered sales and success for publicly traded, privately held, and emerging companies.