This post was originally published on the Sales Hacker blog.
Two years ago, ZoomInfo CEO and Founder Henry Schuck and his then-VP of Sales Operations, Chris Hays, came up with the bold idea to challenge the sales team to convert 100 leads into product demos in one day.
It sounded crazy at first. Nearly every person in the room had doubts about whether this was possible. But, at the end of the day, the team did hit that first number.
And when Chris raised the bar a few months later, they hit that one too.
The first Demo Day I led — after I joined ZoomInfo in 2019 — saw the team connect on 500 demos for the first time ever. A year later (just this past July), we converted 1,000 leads to demos.
So, how do we do it?
Preparing for a Demo Day this big is not easy. It takes planning and strategy to execute on such a large scale.
With both SDRs and their targets so scattered geographically, designing an event roadmap becomes even more paramount. Nearly every detail on this day must be mapped out to achieve peak efficiency.
To hit our high goals, no minute can be wasted.
Preparations for us start weeks before Demo Day ever begins.
It all starts with marketing operations preparing lists of thousands of prospects for the SDRs to contact.
They turn over every stone, new and old, to gather recent marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and win-back prior customers, customers on basic packages, and unconverted leads from the previous 90 days.
Demo Day is as much an opportunity for Marketing as it is for Sales. It gives them an opportunity to experiment with various promotions.
Those that work well — like the exit pop-up-offer of a free trial triggered by a visitor’s attempt to navigate away from ZoomInfo’s website — are implemented into the regular rotation of marketing campaigns.
Newly adopted campaigns enable the marketing team to generate even more MQLs and further scale Demo Day’s capabilities.
Now, we at ZoomInfo do have the advantage of using our in-house intelligence and intent data to track down any and all targets who might have revealed the slightest interest in the product.
Fresh leads are primarily collected from email campaigns, website traffic, and third-party vendors and then included along with unconverted MQLs.
We also pull in recycled leads from the revenue-generation team. It’s exciting to have new leads to call, but there is a ton of unchecked value in using prior leads as well.
The team ensures all recycled leads are enriched prior to being handed over to the sales teams. They do a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes as well, getting up at 5 a.m. to roll out new lists for the SDRs throughout the day.
The marketing and rev-gen teams meet with the inbound sales team on a daily basis for weeks leading up to Demo Day. This allows the sales team to provide feedback on the lists. It allows the marketing team to optimize their demand-generating campaigns. And it ensures the sales team is equipped with the right prospect intel to hit their number.
It falls to the marketing and rev-gen teams to make sure these call lists are as clean as possible — the last thing we want is for our SDRs to have to go digging for the correct contact information in the middle of Demo Day.
There are also technological requirements that may limit a sales team’s efficiency and its ability to scale its sales actions.
Our SDRs use a scheduling app called Chili Piper to review account executives’ available meeting times, and, in as few as 30 seconds, put the actual demo on the customer’s and account exec’s schedule.
This frees up more of the SDR’s time to dial prospects.
So, make sure you have the right tools to allow your team to operate at full speed.
It’s also important to set aggressive but reachable goals.
Coming up short once every three or four times is actually good for the cause — it indicates you’re setting goals just high enough that you can’t achieve them *every* time out, and this quasi-failure will drive a competitive bunch to try even harder next time.
Keep in mind that every successful demo you get represents a lot of time spent by your AEs preparing for and delivering those demos.
So keep in mind the size and capabilities of your AEs when setting your goal. Collecting 200 demos may not be very helpful if you only have 2 AEs. It could be weeks before they will have time to get through the list.
It’s not enough that leadership and Marketing prepare for Demo Day, though. Your individual reps need to prepare themselves as well. Brad, one of our SDR leaders, had this to say about his preparation…
“The day before Demo Day, I went through my last 30 days, and also my upcoming 30 days, to find overdue and scheduled tasks that I had set to follow up with prospects, and moved it all onto Demo Day.“
“So I probably had 200 high-quality prospects to call, but I still had to figure out how to execute them all on one day to build as much traction as possible.”
“But it’s our marketing and revenue-gen teams that are the secret weapon to our Demo Day success. They tee us up with such great prospects that make it fun and a lot easier to sell ZoomInfo.”
Brad’s individual preparation and the work Marketing and re-gen did allowed him to make over 200 dials to prospects — more than double his typical daily average.
While it’s important to prepare for Demo Day, it’s equally (if not more) important to keep the team motivated during the event.
We know we have to put a ton of “spiffs” on the line for such a large event to motivate our team.
We tie a small bonus to every demo booked by every SDR.
We put up prizes for the top sellers in each hour.
And we announce a handful of team prizes — in addition to paying out the top of the leaderboard at the end of the big day.
In the end, it’s all about sharing success and thanking the team.
And while we do use traditional incentives and prizes like gift cards, cash, and PTO days, our SDRs respond just as well, if not more strongly, to incentives tied to the greater good. Tagging milestones with donations to their favorite philanthropic causes is a highly effective motivator.
The SDRs end the day with a handful of commission checks, and the company sees a spike in revenue once the account executives close the deals following the demos.
But on the day, sales leadership ended up contributing more than $16,000 out of our wallets to nonprofits supporting pandemic relief efforts and social justice causes, a sum later matched by our executive team.
These motivating factors are what keeps SDRs humming along well past 12 hours. We also went the extra step to provide food-delivery gift cards so that each member of the sales team can continue driving toward that number without needing to stop and prepare a meal (I highly recommend this).
For Demo Day, we use one giant 175-person Slack channel with every member of the inbound and outbound sales teams.
The celebration and encouragement rain down throughout the 16-hour day in a festival of emojis, gifs, and memes. And for such a large team, working from homes across the U.S., this channel serves as a fun substitute for sales-floor hijinks that have gone MIA during the pandemic.
In a way, enduring the grind of Demo Day fosters camaraderie in a way that no other experience can provide, particularly in an era where we’re all confined to working from our dining room tables and home offices.
One of the highlights of the day was when Henry, our CEO, dropped into the Slack channel to offer the SDRs some of his trademark enthusiasm and colorful words of motivation.
Demo Day is ultimately an effective method for improving interdepartmental collaboration.
It’s not just an event for the sales team. It requires the fine-tuning of sales processes across multiple teams — from generating leads to compiling prospect lists to making calls and converting demos.
Early on, Demo Day can help expedite the growing pains of aligning the marketing, sales operations, and sales development teams by helping identify weaknesses in your process, an evaluation that can otherwise take months.
After three or four Demo Days, we found the right level of cohesion, bringing these three teams together to work in unison year-round.
“Demo Day is the result of a huge journey of daily collaboration between marketing and sales,” said Tal Raz, ZoomInfo’s Senior Director, Marketing Operations. “That’s what makes it so special and so exciting.”
So what happens next?
Well, the spotlight shifts over to our team of account executives to showcase our products and close as many deals as possible.
We’ve put more than 1,000 demos onto their schedule for the next week, giving them upward of 500 hours of demos to deliver.
And if your account executives are effective at turning demos into deals, you’ll realize a great amount of revenue for your company in just one day.
So, start planning your Demo-Day today, and set your company on a rocket ship to success.
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