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Why “schedule a demo” is killing your conversions

Imagine going to a vendor’s website to research and you’re presented with three different buttons:

  1. Schedule a demo
  2. Start a free trial
  3. Watch a video

Which would you choose?

That’s what Vidyard’s VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard routinely asks when speaking at conferences, and NO ONE raises their hand for scheduling a demo.


Buyers aren’t ready to talk to sales. They want to poke around a bit and see if it solves their problem.

Yet, a vast majority of SaaS websites that we review have a “schedule a demo” button front and center in the hero image and top-right nav. And if that’s not enough, they repeat this offer all over the site to make sure you have a chance to do so.

So, why are most B2B SaaS websites taking up the most critical space on their homepage making buyers scroll past it to find what they’re looking for, and forgoing the opportunity to further educate a potential buyer?

Today’s buyer has new demands

Because most leaders grew up in an era where vendors controlled the flow of information about products, they’re used to having more control over the sales process.

Prospects may never have liked talking to sales, but that was how they learned about products and how they might be applicable.

The whole B2B marketing and sales process is incentivized around getting meetings/demos with the predominant thought process being: “if we can just get them into our sales process and make our case, a predictable number will close.”

Hence, the prevalent “schedule a demo” button that’s front and center in the hero of most SaaS websites.

The problem is that today’s buyer has WAY more options for researching products and services than they used to. Today, there are referral sites, communities, peer networks, and lots of third-party content.

To understand how buying behavior has changed, check out TrustRadius’ yearly report. They’ve done a fantastic job of interviewing and surveying buyers to understand how their decisions are made today, and how most vendors are still operating under “business as usual” assumptions.

The biggest takeaway is that “Virtually 100% of buyers want to self-serve part or all of the buying journey—up 13% from 2021.”

Don’t attribute this to just the digital natives (Millennials and Gen Z are 65% of your target buyer right now). COVID forced ALL generations to become digitally native overnight.

And when they come to your site, they’re looking for more justification around their specific use case. They’re looking for transparent pricing, and they want to see demos on demand without talking to sales. 

If you make it too hard, they’ll go somewhere else. 

Forget about your sales process

Another big takeaway from the TrustRadius report is that buyers are using vendor sales reps less than ever before. Since 2021, vendor sales reps have dropped out of the top five most commonly used resources for buyers.

A majority of survey respondents said they were less likely to do business with a company because of cold calls and pushy sales reps.

The mindset shift for vendors is that we should seek to educate buyers and help them learn more about what it is that we do versus convincing them to take a meeting so we can run a sales process.

“We need to get behind this notion that all of us prefer and expect on-demand, self-service experiences. We want to be able to consume on our own time and share information with others on our teams. And we don’t always want to jump through hoops or talk to a sales rep to learn about what a business does,” said Vidyard’s Lessard.

If you’re thinking—"Yeah, but we need to deliver as many leads as possible to sales as soon as possible,” consider this:

If Mary Doe from your ideal buyer persona fills in the “schedule a demo” form she can be considered a warm lead. But Mary represents less than 1% of the visitors that come to your website.

That won’t be enough to grow your business. 

Instead, what if you change the main call to action to “watch a demo” or “see it in action”? (Yes, you can keep the demo button in the main navigation menu.)

That way, if you can increase the number of visitors that watch a demo on demand from 15 or 20% (without a form fill), the number of sales qualified demos should increase substantially.

It’s much more efficient for both sides and it provides the ability for the vendor to better qualify those that are demonstrating actual intent to purchase.

A Battle Worth Picking

If you’re like me, you get annoyed having to scroll past the get a demo section to find more information about what you’re looking for.

The easy fix is to ask yourself what buyers are most interested in finding when they come to your website and place access to that content front and center.

I say it’s easy, but for a lot of organizations, some change management is necessary.

They’re so ingrained with sales processes that worked in the past that they can’t fathom giving up the control over the process today. 

That was the decision Brandon Metcalf, CEO of Place had to make when confronted with the reality that “just getting them in the sales process” wasn’t working anymore. 

“We started looking at why companies were not buying our product. It was clear that 50% bought nothing (no decision). So, we educated them on what could happen versus finding the people that really have the problem that we can solve for them and educating them on why we can solve it and why it's different.”

Within six months of making that change, buyers were reaching out to sales–and they were much more prepared. Close/won ratios went up 7X.

Adding on-demand demos to the hero should be a small change. 

Give the buyer what they want and see if your SQLs improve. It might take some time, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

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