The Impact of Product Experiences on the Buyer Journey
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B2B sales journeys are not known for being extremely innovative, but this doesn’t mean that the journeys are identical. In this report, we wanted to understand the conversion impact of different offers. Whilst analyzing our dataset, we found that there are four offers most commonly used in companies with an SLG motion. We are seeing that these companies mainly offer free trials, interactive demos, and sandbox environments; then, as supplementary offers, we are seeing demo videos and ROI calculators. Here I’d like to highlight the supplementary part - what I mean is these two offers are never standalone offers in our dataset, meaning that companies that offer these options always offer at least one of the three main offers as well.

We got a lot of traction from the "Do Interactive Demos Work?" report, where we compared the impact of interactive demos to normal sales demos. In this report, we wanted to take a step further and uncover the best offers in B2B SaaS sales. So, our control group is the companies with SLG motions; we haven’t included the PLG companies. Among these SLG companies, we analyzed how many offer just a default sales demo, how many offer a free trial period without requiring a sales touch, how many offer just a sandbox environment or a limited demo, how many offer interactive demos, and lastly, how many offer multiple of these. We also analyzed the impact of the secondary offerings on the main offerings.

Methodology

Free Trial: When buyers can start using the product for a limited period of time without having to need to speak to sales. 

Interactive Demo: Refers to companies providing a product tour, demo, or interactive videos on their website that visitors can engage with directly, without needing a sales call. 

Sandbox: Controlled environment where potential customers can interact with the software or platform to explore its functionality and capabilities before making a purchase

Primary offerings: Free trial, interactive demo, sandbox 

ROI Calculator: Where buyers can fill their details and see the potential ROI they might get from the product. 

Product Demo Video: Where buyers see the video of the product demo on the website without talking to sales. 

Secondary offerings: ROI calculator, product demo videos

MQL: High-intent demo, pricing page, contact us submissions. Basically every hand-raiser on the website. Ebook form submissions, lead-gen stuff, webinar registrations were not counted as MQLs. In the first Labs report, some people got a bit heated with us for saying MQLs, but I won’t be changing this simply because I like the sound of it.

SQO: Pipeline created; SQL, Opportunity, etc. Every company has different definitions, but we unified this on the backend and used the SQO definition for when the pipeline is actually created.

CW: Closed won deals, new business, new revenue, added ARR.

Sample Description:

Pipeline ACV: Total contract value, deal size, deal value by the number of SQLs. 

Revenue ACV: Total new business revenue added divided by the number of closed-won deals (also known as Average Contract Value, Deal Size, Selling Price, Deal Value)

Sample Size: Over 150 B2B SaaS companies with SLG motions.

‍Data Range: From October 1st, 2023 to March 31, 2024. 

Attribution Model: Position-based because it offers a balanced view on the importance of each touchpoint in a customer's journey towards a conversion. This method assigns more credit to the first and last interactions and distributes the remaining 20% among the middle interactions. 

Sample Description: 

- Using HockeyStack at least since September 1st, 2023. 

- From $5M ARR to $2B ARR; average ACV from $10K to $150K. 

- 77% NAM, 20% UK, 3% Europe ‍

Part I: Primary Product Offers

Out of over 150 companies with the SLG motion, as expected, all of them offer a demo during the sales process - in the form of sales showing the product. We didn’t make a split here, so it could be sales showing the product on the first call or in the later stages, but they at some point show the product.

Amongst all of these companies with the SLG motion: 

  • 32% of them offer free-trial.

  • 11% of them offer interactive demos

  • 3.5% of them offer a sandbox environment

32% of B2B SaaS companies offer free-tria,.‍11% of them offer interactive demo and 3.5% offer a sandbox environment

Now let’s mix and match.

  • 4% of the companies offer both free trial and interactive demos. 

  • 0.5% of the companies offer sandbox and interactive demos.

  • No company offers a free trial and sandbox together. 

  • No company offers all three together. 

Now, let’s some sprinkle some nerd data:

Sum of individual percentages:

  • Free trial: 32%
  • Interactive demo: 11%
  • Sandbox environment: 3.5%

(32%) + (11%) + (3.5%) = 46.5%

Subtract overlap between pairs:

  • Free trial and interactive demo: 4%
  • Interactive demo and sandbox environment: 0.5%

(46.5%) − (4%+0.5%) = 42%

No overlap of all three and no overlap between free trial and sandbox so no further adjustment needed.

(100%) - (42%) = 58% 

Therefore, 58% of the companies don't offer any of the listed three options.

Part II: Secondary Product Offers

As I mentioned in the introduction, I wanted to call this part secondary offers because, in reality, we could already assume that no company would only offer an ROI calculator. That kind of offer is always complementary to the main offer, mostly to warm the audience a bit more if they are not ready for booking or starting a demo. However, this idea I had was for the ROI calculator, and I wasn’t thinking this about the demo videos, as I think there are definitely some companies who offer solely a product demo and don’t offer any free trial, interactive demos, or sandbox environments. However, our dataset proved me wrong.

At least according to our dataset, every company that offers ROI calculators or shows their product demo videos on the website also offers at least a free trial, interactive demo, or sandbox environment.

73% of the companies have product videos on their website, and 38% of them have ROI calculators

According to our dataset, out of the companies that offer free trials, interactive demos, or sandbox environments:

  • 73% of the companies have product demo videos on their website. 

  • 38% of them have ROI calculators. 

When we look at the share of traffic that these pages get, we see that ROI calculators only get 0.05% of the traffic, while the click rate for the product demo videos is 3.43%. Here we are comparing the page traffic to click rate because some of the companies show these product demo videos on their homepage. If we look at the page traffic, it’ll skew the numbers; therefore, we’re looking at the average percentage of people who clicked on that video vs. the percentage of people who visited the ROI calculator page.

ROI calculator gets 0.05% share of traffic, while product videos get 3.3% and interactive demos get 12.14%

Part III: Impact on Conversions

So which experiences have the biggest conversion impact? If a company offers a free trial, interactive demo, or sandbox, which ones drive the best conversion rates?

In the "Do Interactive Demos Work?" report, we found that providing interactive demos increases the chance of generating MQLs by 63%. It brings a 1.5x better MQL:SQL conversion rate, and companies with interactive demos on their websites close deals 23% faster compared to those without interactive demos.

Now, let’s take a step back. How would these metrics change if we compare companies with interactive demos vs. companies with free trials vs. companies with sandbox environments?

Please note that for companies with free trials, the journey we are looking at here is “trial started > contact sales submitted”; and for companies with the pre-sales sandbox motion, it is “sandbox started > contact sales submitted” - within 7 days after the trial ends. So if the buyer had a 14-day free trial and then decided to contact sales 6 days after their trial ended, we included them here; but if they contacted sales 8 days after their trial ended, they were excluded (for those who actually wonder, there was nobody who contacted sales after 8, 9, or 10 days after their trial ended).

A quick recap: 58% of the companies don’t offer interactive demo, free trial, or sandbox environments. 

  • 32% of them offer free-trial.

  • 11% of them offer interactive demos

  • 3.5% of them offer a sandbox environment

  • 4% of the companies offer both free trial and interactive demos. 

  • 0.5% of the companies offer sandbox and interactive demos.

Visit:MQL rate

Free Trial: 13% better

Sandbox: 19% better

Interactive Demo: 63% better

Although free trials have a better conversion rate than companies offering nothing, 13% is actually not that good, especially considering that it’s more than 3x lower than the interactive demo conversion rate. Furthermore, it’s actually lower than the sandbox conversion rate as well. My theory here is that offering a sandbox at least creates curiosity and pushes the prospect to see the rest of the product. However, when it comes to free trials, my theory is that maybe the onboardings are not good or comprehensive, which causes users to not fully understand how to use the tool, and since they don’t really see an ROI during the trial period, they struggle with adoption.

*MQL is defined as once the contact sales form is submitted.

*Please note that in the "Do Interactive Demos Work?" report, we found that interactive demos have a 1.63x better visit:MQL rate compared to those without interactive demos. However, now that we’re comparing interactive demos to not only companies without interactive demos but also to companies with interactive demos and free trials, this rate is different. This same applies to the following sections as well.

MQL:SQL Conversion Rate

Free Trial: 31% better

Sandbox: 26% better

Interactive Demo: 44% better

I think there’s a simple explanation for this—your buyers have already seen the product, they know the capabilities, they know what they want, and they are already qualified.

SQL:CW Conversion Rate

Free Trial: 3% better

Sandbox: 4.7% better

Interactive Demo: 3.2% better

This part was unexpected for me because I’d expected showcasing the product would help companies close deals more easily, but it seems like, although it helps them close deals faster, it doesn’t impact the win rates as much as I thought.

Sales cycles:

Free Trial: 11% faster sales cycle

Sandbox: 4% faster sales cycle

Interactive Demo: 17% faster sales cycle

This bit is another surprising part for me because I’d expect free trials to have the fastest sales cycles, as users would already know the product. 

To clarify, we define the sales cycle from MQL to CW; therefore, we’re not including the time spent during the trial. 

Maybe the reason for the difference we see between free trials and interactive demos is similar to the Visit:MQL part. During free trials, users may not fully understand how to use the platform, so they are looking to learn or understand it better during the sales process. In contrast, for interactive demos, since product adoption isn’t the problem and users haven’t used the platform yet, they move faster.

*There’s almost no difference when it comes to deal sizes, so we haven’t included that part.

WRITTEN BY
Canberk Beker
Head of Growth at HockeyStack
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