Doing demos for unqualified leads


I get a lot of leads and I only want to do demos for qualified people. By qualified, they have to have access to $100k or more in capital.

Before, I was putting them in our sandbox (software), but that opens me up to more questions.

I find spending time on dead end leads takes time from pursuing HVT (high value targets). I know sales and prospecting has a balance, but there's got to be a nice, non-confrontational way to handle this.

You can set requirements, but the real time wasters just b.s. me to get you to do some free consulting, so I would rather not go that route. Also, the last thing I want to do is alienate a potentially good customer w/ these hoops. I am worried that sometimes, in an attempt to avoid bad customers, I will avoid some potentially very good customers ;)

So, my question is this: How can you pre-qualify your leads before spending the time and money to give them a demonstration of the software?

Sales Leads Prospecting

asked Mar 24 '11 at 06:47
346 points
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  • your question is? – Zippy 13 years ago
  • The question is how do I handle the "can I get a demo question?", from unqualified leads without insulting them? – Sparagi 13 years ago

3 Answers


You have a few options:

  • Automate the process of an online demo
  • Do a live multi-client web demo scheduled weekly or something like that
  • Just accept the fact that you have to spend time with tire-kickers
  • Call their BS early on and ask them right away what their revenue/business is like and who cares if they get offended?


You also may want to consider that smaller companies or people not yet established have an interest in the software/services you provide and while not ready to buy yet, will remember how well you treated them and how you helped them when it is time for them to buy in a year or two. Part of sales IS giving free advice and consulting. Are you in this for the short term buck, or is this going to be sustainable. You have to grow your customer base - sometimes that means getting fully-fledged businesses and other times it means watching and waiting until a prospect grows into it.

As for filling out forms and surveys:

I recall last summer I helped a friend with a fleet of trucks try to identify a flee management solution - one of the companies made us fill out this long, silly form in order to get a demo. it was ridiculous. It was a huge time waster for us and no excuse to impose that kind of thing on customers.

answered Mar 24 '11 at 09:10
Tim J
8,346 points
  • Tim, you're dropping some good advice. Thanks. You made a light bulb go off. – Sparagi 13 years ago


We have a survey to understand our client better, we say this helps to tailor the demo to be relevant to them because our product is so configurable.

Some of the questions are Size/volume questions, no of employees etc.
From this we either send key sales people, arrange a webex demo or if they are too small they can't answer sufficent questions and we recommend a more suitable alternative.

Often we ring them and just ask verbally because many won't get around to filling out the form.

answered Mar 24 '11 at 09:30
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • Very good answer, but what do you tell people that do not qualify when they keep pushing for a demo? I don't have a problem growing a spine, I just would rather not;) – Sparagi 13 years ago
  • Well normally they come to the conclusion themselves because we have a example answers showing expected ranges they can't meet. But if they are persistant and aren't from a competitor then we give the demo ... A year or 3 years later they come back in a new job and remember you Or they talk to others who are suitable. But I think if you have a specific smaller market company and say they seem more suitable ... They usually are thankful for the advice – Robin Vessey 13 years ago
  • We've actually gotten quite a few smaller projects this way. The person you talk to now might not always work for a small company in a year. Every one of these "long tail" cultivated sales we make feels like money just dropping in our lap since we haven't spent today's effort/$ in the sale. – Sean 13 years ago
  • There is a long tail to this. Thanks for sharing your experiences. What I'm going to do is ask some indirect questions to get a feel for them. The reality is that I'm willing to get on a plane for the right prospect, so I have to figure out how far we go w/ the less qualified people. – Sparagi 13 years ago
  • Yeah, the sales cycle is a painful one. We have had huge prospects that we got on a plane for over and over for 4 years before landing them ... in that time the smaller ones kept us alive and eating. – Robin Vessey 13 years ago


Yup. Classic tradeoffs, how do you reliably separate the wheat from the chaff?

Is there the possibility of doing a recorded demo that people can view/watch online? That can help eliminate some of the basic time-waster stuff.

Not sure what exactly your product and market is, but I'm pretty sure there are some ways to make better decisions about who is genuinely interested and who is wasting your time.

answered Mar 24 '11 at 07:31
Brian Karas
3,407 points
  • Yeah, that would create one more buffer. I can tell them to view our demo and offer human demo's to companies that I qualify. Demo's are good b/c they're really a 30 minute sales call, but they can wear you down fast. – Sparagi 13 years ago

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