Building demonstrably better demo experiences with Cloudshare
- Prospective users expect to try before they buy these days. Marketers need to be able to manage the demo stage better than they've previously been able to.
How often have you conducted a demo and wondered how engaged your prospective customer was? Or set up a proof of concept or a free trial and couldn’t track who was actively using the environment and how? It can take some effort to set these demos or test environments up.
So, is there a better way to do it and get the insights you need to make smarter decisions on how to work with prospects and customers? CloudShare believes it has just the solution for you.
The online software experience platform
Zvi Guterman, founder and CEO of CloudShare, refers to his firm’s platform as “an online software experience platform.” CloudShare provides an environment where you can host demos, POCs, trials, and even training for your software, either through a virtual lab environment or a cloud infrastructure play. Essentially, CloudShare takes the effort out of setting up these environments and lets marketers focus on the critical marketing and sales activities that drive conversions and support retention.
Consider the example of a company that wants to offer a limited free trial, but doesn’t have the environment to do it quickly. With CloudShare, you can set up a trial of your application outside your production environment and let prospects try it out. Within the trial environment, you can offer live training and chat support using the built-in audio and video in the platform or by integrating your Zoom or Webex account.
As your prospects use the trial application, you get analytics on that usage (or non-usage) and can customize marketing or sales outreach to encourage them to get the most out of their trial.
Another example might be when you conduct live demo-based webinars of your application. Instead of just showing registrants how your application works, you can let them try it with you and even give them continued access for a few days to continue playing with it. CloudShare monitors who uses the environment during and after the demo, and marketing can use that information to create personalized outreach.
Sales enablement is also a key use case for CloudShare. It can host a series of standard demos and make them accessible to your sales team or partners. Customizable instances can be generated from a demo for particular customers if there are specific things they have requested to see. Also, the demos can be pre-populated with custom data. Sales leaders and partner managers can track which demos are used and by whom, giving them insights into which demos are helping convert better, which sales reps are using them, and which partners are driving more sales.
Training is another primary use case. Kevin Shauger, Director of Solution Engineering, showed in a platform demo. With CloudShare, you can set up both self-paced or instructor-led training and get full analytics on who is taking the training and how they are proceeding. For example, Shauger showed me how an instructor could access a student’s environment and help them through a problem. The instructor can also share that problem and resolution with the entire class so everyone can see how to resolve it.
To help track which customers have had which demos or are working through trials or POCs, CloudShare integrates with Salesforce, HubSpot, and Google Sheets.
The need to be product-led
Thanks to the number of SaaS applications offering freemium versions of their applications, or limited free trials, it’s become almost expected that people can try before they buy software. But not every software vendor is positioned to do that, especially the more complex software applications.
But even if you can’t be true product-led, you can incorporate product-led growth (PLG) elements through what Anna Talerico, Operating Partner at Arthur Ventures, calls a product-led funnel:
The product-led funnel is a way to use self-service elements of PLG that help prospects self-qualify themselves before they enter the funnel and need to talk to sales. Talerico called it 'sales assisted’ as opposed to ‘sales-led’ because the prospect already has enough experience or knowledge about a product to know that it’s right for them before they enter the funnel.
Solutions like CloudShare allow you to initiate some level of a product-led strategy by either hosting your on-premise software in a cloud environment or creating virtual instances of your SaaS software.
It takes time to provision new environments for trials or POCs. Even demos can be challenging because you’re either running the same demo over and over or custom building each demo every time. And let’s not even get started on the challenges companies have with SDRs who aren’t able to demo their software properly!
I see CloudShare as giving you a ready-built environment for trials, POCs, or demos, taking the complicated and time-consuming setup work away and letting marketing and sales teams focus on showing their software and answering questions.
Having templates to work with and the ability to customize for specific requests makes the trial or a demo process faster, and it can help train your SDRs on the features/capabilities they need to show. I’d use CloudShare to train the SDRs and marketing teams on how to not only use their software but properly demo it.
But it’s the analytics that excites me the most. Because we can demo software till the cows come home, or we can set up dozens of trials, but if we aren’t paying attention to how those things are helping the customer answer the question of “is this software right for me?” then it’s a lot of wasted effort. You can’t simply give prospects access to a trial environment and let them go. You have to monitor how they use it so you know how to build on that trial with content and outreach.