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Ensuring Smooth B2B Sales Experiences: Interview with Yoav Vilner, CEO of Walnut

It’s been 23 years since Bill Gates’s embarrassing “blue screen of death” incident back in 1998, but the truth is, since then, not much has changed in the way the tech industry handles product demonstrations. And it’s not like the snafus have tapered off.

Walnut is a B2B demo platform that allows sales teams to create versions of their tech products that support personalized walkthroughs, without needing any live link to the back-end. It’s an elegant solution that’s optimized to serve up smooth, personalized sales experiences, both for prospects and the sellers.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Walnut’s CEO Yoav Vilner, a veteran of the startup scenes in Tel Aviv and New York, about his vision for the future of product demos.

How did you come up with the idea for Walnut?

At the age of 22, I founded one of Israel’s top tech marketing companies, helping 600 startups with their growth, marketing and sales efforts. I noticed how they spent most of their budgets on getting prospects to actually see what the product is about – the demo phase – and only to fail 90% of the time.

Years later, I brainstormed with my brilliant CTO and co-founder, Danni, and after interviewing dozens of VP sales in major companies, we came to the conclusion that we can reinvent this process and be the first ones to do it.

What are some of the reasons that demos go awry in the first place?

Product demos are not an ideal experience in their most basic form to begin with. No two prospects are alike. They probably come from different verticals, companies, use cases and should not all see the same sales demo, or even slightly changed variants. So that’s why there’s this built-in need to do demos live, which is where the pitfalls start to come into play.

You might have spent months lining up a demo for an enterprise buyer, and then, two minutes before the meeting, someone on your R&D team tinkers with the production environment, and it isn’t working right. Maybe someone surprises you by changing a button color, and you get flustered.

When salespeople are taken aback during a presentation, it is very obvious to the audience, and this can decrease your prospect’s trust in your abilities. 

Walnut lets you embed the demo experience in your process – a customized and insightful demo that your prospects are bound to like. There is no room for surprise changes to your demo. What you’ve personally saved is what you get when you go to present. 

How can you ensure, though, that there will be zero downtime? What if there is a slow internet connection during the presentation?

We disconnect your web app’s front-end from its back-end, and replicate it on our cloud. It’s like an insurance policy for demos. 

The only way for it to break live would be if Amazon Web Services completely breaks, which is much less likely to happen than your company’s product breaking.

What other factors contribute most to a smooth B2B sales experience?

A smooth sales experience means that your prospect has understood what your product is all about from the first touchpoint. It means that your prospect is much more likely to advance to the next phase of the sales funnel. 

Buyers are smarter than ever these days. They have done their research on you, and they expect a quick and predictable process. The better tech sales teams know how to provide this, but it takes a lot of experience.

Every salesperson is different and has different ways they can improve, so that’s why we provide team leaders with the insights and analytics needed to measure the effectiveness of the entire sales process. What does a great demo look like? What about a bad one? What can be done better next time? Our platform’s metrics help teams answer these questions.

By analyzing the data from your sales and demo processes, we provide transparency and recommend how to improve for next time. We incorporate hundreds of data points that paint a detailed picture of which demo you showed to which vertical of a client, what ended up being closed and what ended up failing, and how long it took for your prospect to see the value of your product.

Walnut is different from the other types of software products for optimizing sales processes. What does it mean to you to be operating in an entirely new category?

For the third time in my career, I am privileged to design a category in tech. To me, it means inventing something new that solves a huge, cross-vertical problem, dominating the market with your solution and positioning yourself as the pioneer. 

If you do everything precisely right, your clients, followers, investors and employees will do the advocacy work for you – you won’t even have to spend money on it.

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