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How this CEO wants to reshape the B2B sales experience

·5 min read

The B2B sales cycle is typically long and complex, and the sales demo plays a key role. When sales and dev teams have to collaborate, though, it makes things more complicated.

Yoav Vilner, co-founder and CEO of Walnut, a code-free platform for sales teams to create better sales experiences for their prospects, believes that tech should help the once-broken B2B sales funnel provide a better service to the clients, while providing clarity for the company side.

Drawing on his company’s experience from their own sales cycles and those of their customers, Vilner shares what he has learned about lead nurturing, personalized content, and the sales experience revolution.

Yoav Vilner
Yoav Vilner

Yoav Vilner

You’ve helped a lot of startups through their marketing and sales process. What obstacles did you see in their processes that prodded you to develop Walnut?

I worked as the category builder for tech marketing in hundreds of B2B companies around the world. Again and again, I saw the companies I worked with spend vast budgets getting prospects to agree to a product demo, but then they either delivered a bad demo experience, or had their demo fail due to live technical difficulties.

Why would you spend so much time and money on attracting their attention with a great banner ad or landing page, convincing them to share their email address, finally coaxing them to a demo call, and then watching 90% of your demos crash and burn?

I saw marketers spend hours discussing personalized, scalable content, but nobody seemed to mind that their demos were not personalized, not scalable, and not even internally consistent.

There seems to be a revolution going on in B2B sales. Do you think that the B2B buyer experience is changing?

Yes, there’s definitely a revolution in B2B purchasing processes, and companies are still adapting to it. B2B buyers these days are used to a digital shopping experience. They want a consistent and predictable process that’s targeted to their needs.

Every B2B buyer is human. In their regular life, they order a pizza or buy weights directly online. They manage their own purchase journey by heading over to Google or a shopping app and asking for the product they want, so they want self-serve B2B buying content, too.

Is it possible to make a self-guided sales experience as powerful and as comprehensive as a guided demo?

From what I’ve seen, the fastest way to demonstrate value to a prospect is to show them exactly what your product is all about on the very first touchpoint. Sales videos, webinars, Invision mockups, Powerpoint presentations — they’re all great, but they’re not relevant to today’s B2B world. Walnut lets prospects experience the product immediately, and that’s what makes it powerful.

In terms of the demo experience, when you disconnect your front-end demo from the back-end by running it codeless, you remove it from all the bugs and malfunctions that can ruin the demo experience and that force you to put a sales rep in charge to trouble-shoot. It means your self-guided demo runs even more smoothly than a traditional guided one.

Are B2B buyers likely to be willing to give up on their traditional interactions with human sales reps, who can answer their questions on the fly, in exchange for self-serve demos, no matter how customized they are?

It’s going to take a long time until self-serve demos replace human interactions altogether, but in the next few years they will massively enhance them. We’re pioneering a whole new methodology for B2B sales, which we call “sales experience.”

Let me tell you, no one will mourn the old generic demo. Under that approach, team leaders had no idea what was going on with the demo process or how prospects responded. Our platform provides them with unique insights and data so they can continue holding the traditional, valuable, human conversations that B2B buyers want to keep.

I notice that you emphasize that lead nurturing has to continue beyond the demo. What are your tips for post-demo lead nurturing?

An awesome demo goes a very long way, but there’s still more work to do after it’s over. Here are some of my quick tips:

- Gather data on your prospect’s preferences. Walnut helps make this easy, but otherwise you’ll need to make a central hub for sharing insights with everyone involved in the sale.

- Send consistent, personalized messaging to all your prospects

- Use your prospect data to optimize the demo further so your contact can share it internally.

- Bear in mind that marketing doesn’t end with the purchase — you still need to offer product training, setup support, and other post-sales interactions that help retain your customers.

There’s a lot of anxiety around the business world that hi-tech tools are going to replace human workers. Should anyone be worried that Walnut is going to take their job?

Absolutely not. What we do is give sales leaders the one platform they needed to close more deals, more efficiently, so they can meet their quotas and broaden their pipeline more easily.

Sales teams appreciate that we set them free from friction with back-end colleagues in R&D, product, design, and/or development departments, allowing them to focus on sales. We enable them to ramp up the number of sales demos they run ten-fold, without increasing the cost in money or time. Finally, team leaders have clarity into the sales process.