5 steps for startups to re-engage past demos & close lost prospects

This is a guest post by Lincoln Murphy from Sixteen Ventures. Check out his great blog on SaaS marketing, customer acquisition & churn reduction.

When it comes to sales hustle, Steli is the man. He’s taught us about the power of the follow-up and turning failed demos into sales.

Well, this powerful sales hack I’m going to share takes both of those ideas and applies it to the reality of rapid startup product evolution; in the early days, your product probably sucks… and you showed it to actual prospects!

Look, you’re in a startup and that means your product is rapidly changing… evolving from week to week, and sometimes day to day.

You’re proud of what you have today (though it’s always a work in progress) and you think back 3 months… 6 months… OMG, 9 months ago... and you shiver at the thought of what your product used to be. Ugh… yuck.

And then it hits you… you showed that product to prospects back then. A lot of prospects.

Yeah, some of them - the crazy ones who could see the value in spite of your efforts - bought.

But a lot of prospects didn’t… and now those people are walking around with what they think is an accurate picture of your product in their head; but it’s not.

Your product today vs. 9 months ago… night and day.

The product wasn’t ready for them, and they weren’t ready for it… but things are different now.

If they saw your product back then and haven’t seen it since, then they really haven’t seen your product AT ALL, and they need to. Now.

Now, if they’re still in business, then there are just two things that could have happened since they saw your demo or dropped out of the sales cycle with you:

1. Nothing (so they’re totally still an opportunity)

2. They signed with a competitor (learn why and see if they might still be interested in a demo to see what they’re missing… you never know)

You have absolutely NOTHING to lose by reaching out to past demos or lost prospects… and a TON to gain (even if it’s just intel on a competitor they ended-up going with… and when their contract ends!).

5 steps to win back lost deals

The how-to on this is super-simple… it’s really one of those things that is all in the execution (so just do it!):

1. Get a list of prospects who someone on your team gave a demo to or who were in a sales cycle with you 3, 6, or 9 months ago (whatever timeframe makes sense for you).

2. Send them an email or call them with a message like "if you haven't seen [Our Product] in the past x months... you haven't seen [Our Product]!!"

3. This isn’t a time to be coy or shy… you need to be clear that the product they saw way back when is NOT the product you sell today. For this campaign, we’re running counter to the typical “make it about them” messaging we typically want to employ. This is about your product and why their vision of the product is super-outdated.

4. Setup the appointment and prep for the demo (ideally asking the prospect questions so they’ll think you care this time around)

5. Setup a reminder (or automated campaign) to reach out every day (or week or month… whatever you can handle) when a new cohort enters the “got a demo > x months ago” or “lost ‘em > x months ago” since - as as a startup - your product will always be much different x months later.

This works… no excuses. Make Steli proud.

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