Why Scheduling Demos Might Be Destroying Your Conversion Rates

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Does anyone really like to “Schedule a Demo”? Our PPC team is always looking to push our results, so we tested this theory with an enterprise B2B software firm and found that the answer in their case is: NO.

We knew that demos are a large time commitment and tough to schedule for both the vendor and the prospective client.

We also knew that our client and most B2B software companies have terrific sales teams. If we could simply get them more opportunities, they could close more deals and grow.

With that basic business knowledge, we tested our new hypothesis. Would people prefer a demo video they could watch on their own time over scheduling a time to be walked through a live demo? With this hypothesis, we also assumed that we would decrease our lead quality. So we asked ourselves, would so many more people want to do this that it would make up for the fact that the leads were higher in the funnel and less qualified?

The answer to both questions was yes, demo videos were preferred and also didn’t have a significant negative effect on sales qualified leads.

3 Psychological Reasons Why “Schedule a Demo” Can be a Big Sales Blocker

In the B2B arena, we can have a tendency of overlooking the psychological impact our call to actions and overall messaging can have. We tend to think that our target market is our industry peers or that they are “really technical.” While your target market might often be “really technical” that does not mean they are “really not-human.” Because of this, it’s critical to think about the psychological effects call to actions and messaging have on our target audience.

All marketing is human to human, before it’s ever business to business.

1. Time Commitments Are The Worst

Every day we make decisions based on if we think something is worth our time. Each individual might have a different perceived value of their own time, but we all value our time to some degree.

Think about the last time someone texted you: “Hey want to swing by my place this Saturday? We’re having friends over.” What questions did you have?

  • What time?
  • What’s your address again?
  • Whose “friends”?
  • Should I bring something?

All of these questions are normal when trying to decide if something is worth your time. Yet, somehow, we think that on our landing pages these questions don’t exist.

Unfortunately, “Schedule a Demo” triggers all these underlying questions and creates immediate barriers to conversion.

Instead, we should be trying to remove any barriers that are associated with time commitments and what to expect. Here’s an example of how we use: “FREE 5-Min Demo Video” as a call to action instead, while answering the questions our target audience wants to know.


2. Scheduling is Brutal

Going back and forth like a ping-pong match can be exhausting when trying to schedule a time for a demo video.

Technically, your user was ready to do the demo when they hit the button, not at a later (random) date. By making your call to action delayed, you immediately decrease your close rate by adding additional barriers. Instead, by allowing a user to “watch a demo video now”, you can capture them in the moment and have technology warm up the lead instead of a salesperson…Talk about scaling ;).

Ps…don’t scale your sales the “wrong way”. There’s psychology involved in scheduling…


3. Not Enough Decision Makers or “Answers” People on a Demo

At our company (Directive Consulting), we get to interview software vendors for our own business. We have noticed some very frightening trends that occur in this process:

  1. We can’t always all be on the demo video
  2. The vendor rarely has someone who can answer all our questions on that call
  3. Demos take longer then it would to play around with the software ourselves and make a list of personalized questions

With all this data in our pockets, we believe that a call to action that allows a user to generate their own questions based on their personal experience would be more impactful than simply assuming we know what questions they will have. In addition, we have found that people would rather “dial 2” for support than “dial 1 for sales”.

Lastly, even if your demo walkthrough goes really well, it’s often difficult to get enough decision makers on the demo to get the buy-in you need to be successful.

Wouldn’t allowing whoever filled out your form to forward a link to the demo video be easier than making each person watch the live demo?

The Test: “Schedule a Demo” vs. “Watch a 5-Min Demo Video Now”

We took all these psychological and logical assumptions to the test and split tested two call to actions:

  • “Schedule a Demo”
  • “Watch a 5-Min Demo Video Now”



We started off our test sending 50% of our traffic to the “schedule a demo” page, and 50% to the “5-minute demo video”. With all of the design and content elements parallel in both variants, we were set up to discover just how powerful a change to the call to action could be.

Even with high expectations, we did not expect the immediate results that followed our launch. It took approximately 120 visitors on each page to determine the winner of this test, making it the quickest A/B landing page test we have ever performed. We immediately ditched our schedule a demo CTA and sent 100% of our traffic to the 5-min demo video page.

The Results of Our Test


As you can see from the screenshot taken directly from our Unbounce dashboard, the results of our CTA test were extreme (1.71% Conversion Rate VS. 15.33% Conversion Rate).

These results represent the power of fitting your CTA within the user’s comfort zone. Offering a call to action that is not only desirable, but also convenient will measurably improve conversion rates.

After following up with our client, we found that not only did we maintain qualified lead rates, but this new CTA even shortened the sales cycle. The short demo video sold the user without having to speak to the dreaded sales team.

If your product is truly quality, then let’s not delay the time it takes for a user to figure that out for themselves.

5 Practical Take Aways You Can Implement This Week

We’ve run through the psychological reasons why “schedule a demo” doesn’t always work. We’ve also outlined our test and documented the results. Now, it’s time for actions you can take this week to improve your conversions.

Task #1: Build a Demo Video

The key to this entire study was that we had a demo video that we could use for the test. If you are selling a SaaS product or anything online in general, I do not foresee a video hurting you.

According to Kissmetrics, a demo video can increase conversions by 85%.

With that in mind, a big constraint for you might be budget. If you do have a small budget or need to do this yourself, here’s a great post to guide you through the process.

If you do want to go with a firm, here are some that could potentially help:

Task #2: Change Call to Actions with High Levels of Friction

What thoughts are triggered with the words you use on your landing pages? Does your call to action make a visitor think: “Sounds good, but I don’t have time for that?”

Our simple study proved a massive uptick in conversion rates can occur when we remove the friction in our call to actions. Here’s a list of common call to actions that could be improved:

  • “Request a Consultation” >>> “Get My Consultation Today”
  • “Submit” >>> “Let’s Talk” (or anything other than submit)
  • “Schedule an Appointment” >>> “Visit Us”

The list can go on forever, but try to avoid words that infer higher friction such as: submit, request, schedule, etc.

Task #3: Experiment with “Specialists” over “Sales”

At Directive Consulting, we do not hire salespeople. We do not want to be perceived as “salesy” instead, we want to sell on expertise.

Instead of pitching a call to action along the lines of: “Schedule a Time to Speak with a Sales Rep”, try to pivot into a call to action similar to: “Our Specialists Are Ready”. In general, people prefer to be helped more than sold.

By having your most talented support staff doing sales, they are going to approach the conversation differently. While having support and engineers on sales calls doesn’t work for everyone, it’s worth experimenting with.

Task #4: Record Users

Much of this post is based on the assumption that you already have an amazing landing page. If that’s not the case, we recommend using Unbounce and creating unique landing pages for each of your ad groups. Here’s a great post to get you started.

Once you are set and know how to build a landing page, it’s critical you build it around your user’s intent. In order to learn a new client’s customer and their intent, we use a product called Hotjar (you can also try using Crazy Egg).

Once installed, we can record users that visit our website. We will then launch a new search campaign and send the traffic to homepage (yes, I know…not best practice). But, from here, we can now record our users intent when they come from that particular keyword. From mining hours of user recordings, we can build the perfect landing page to satisfy the user from a particular keyword’s intent.

Task #5: Build a Light Box that Explains The Video

We talked a lot about buttons/call to actions in this post, but a button is only as good as the form it represents.

To help provide more information to a visitor, we love using lightboxes instead of static forms.

With a light box, we have the opportunity to educate our visitor on what they will receive if they provide their information. We want to ideally eliminate the fear of: “What happens if I press this button?”.

Here’s what one of our light boxes looks like:


While we are not perfect, this example can hopefully get the juices flowing for your own search campaigns.


Your visitors are a lot more like us than we like to admit. They are:

  • Busy
  • Tired
  • Having a case of the Mondays
  • Unsure of new products, vendors, softwares, or services
  • Wishing it was Friday

Do not hurt your conversions with high friction call to actions and copy such as: “Schedule a Demo”. We ran the numbers, put them to the test, and trust us, these high friction call to actions are ruining your conversion rates.

About the Author: Garrett Mehrguth is the CEO of Directive Consulting. They are a Google, Bing, Moz, & Unbounce partner serving mid-enterprise level firms.

He has been published in Moz, Kissmetrics, Ahref, Convince and Convert, Wordstream, Raven, Marin, Acquisio, Local Search Ranking Factors, and more. He has spoken at MozCon Ignite, Big Digital, General Assembly, PeopleSpace Innovation Labs, SoCal Code Camp and others.

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