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How Webinars Move Buyers through the Sales Cycle: Recap

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In this blog post Mike Agron, Co-Founder & Executive Webinar Producer of WebAttract, examines how webinars can be used to educate prospects and move them through the buying journey, and shares best practices for doing so.

Having produced, delivered and moderated hundreds of webinars, I’m convinced that they are an invaluable tool for companies to attract, engage and educate prospects. Yet not all webinar attendees are ready to buy now.

This recap reminds demand generation professionals that webinars should be focused on helping prospects progress in their buying journey rather than trying to immediately convert attendees into buyers.

To set the stage , I invited the audience to take part in a poll and tell me how many webinar invitations they receive in a week. A prior poll indicated that 60% of the audience used webinars for demand generation, sales and product demos. The latter audience poll revealed that:

  • 61.5% of attendees said they receive 1-3 email invites a week.
  • 11.5% said they receive 4-5 email invites a week.
  • 11.5% said they ‘lost count’ and don’t how many they get.
  • 15.4% said they receive none.

This validates the assumption that there’s a lot of in-box noise competing for our prospective attendee’s attention. However, done right and with timely and relevant information, webinars can be a powerful vehicle to help move prospects through their journey to become your customer and future advocate.

There’s nothing better than having a conversation with someone who is interested in how you can help them. And no matter how much you want or need to sell something, you can’t make someone buy from you until they are ready.

What you can do is use your expertise to help prospects along their buying journey by demonstrating how they can solve their business pains and achieve business goals.

This is where the webinar leverages your ability to operate across time zones and geographic locations to attract an audience that is interested in learning something to help them in their decision making process. If you truly provide the audience with valuable, educational, content , then when they are ready to have a sales conversation they will want to do so with you.

The webinar value proposition goes beyond simply closing deals. There are at least five other ways of measuring business impact , from converting a prospect into a customer, upselling and cross-selling to your existing base, increasing your pipeline, positioning you as a viable provider of information across new markets and geographic regions.

It is my belief that webinars are best used to educate, inform and to demonstrate how webinars themselves move customers through the sales cycle.

In this recap I have used 5 client case studies of both name and emerging brands across diverse industry sectors, that have been successful in using webinars to achieve their demand generation goals.

The common thread in each of these case studies was how these brands were able to use a series of webinars to educate and help buyers on their journey. The common themes for these webinars can be summarized as follows:

  1. Case Study Driven Content: Content was usually focused around how one of their clients or partners overcame a pain point and generated better business outcomes from increasing sales, gross margins, or other business value.
  2. Embraced Industry Disruptions & Market Shifts: They demonstrated how to seize change and confusion and go beyond the “status quo” to create a learning opportunity that the attendees could relate to their own situations. For example a diverse group of health-based decision makers were shown how they could capitalize on new reimbursement options by using telehealth services. Another example was how a company educated environmental compliance decision makers on innovative ways on best practices to be compliant in order to avoid heavy fines and citations.
  3. Invited their clients or partners as well as third party experts to present: By having speakers who were passionate to share their expertise not only added credibility to the case study, it also mitigated attracting an audience who would see the webinar as nothing more than a sales pitch. Instead they learned from peers and colleagues who often had the same challenges and objectives as they did.
  4. Delivered on the Webinar Invitations Promises: The webinar invitation became their contract with their audience, that is, they made sure that they delivered on all of the bullet points in the invitation, including demonstrable outcomes around ROI, best practices, lesson learned that were all focused on business value.
  5. Developed a Project & Work Plan: All of these companies followed a proven methodology, best practices and used key email and webinar metrics to benchmark and optimize their outcomes.
    Producing and running a webinar involves a lot of moving parts that need to be managed. To do it right, a webinar has to balance the business drivers, logistics, human factors and technology considerations.

Having a work plan with key milestones and deliverables is a must, especially to attract an audience beyond your house list. It takes careful planning and thought to craft content that will engage the audience, coach speakers to be more natural in their delivery, as well as developing a clear call to action for following up after the webinar, This all takes time and eight weeks is an average timescale from concept to delivery.

The rewards for each company varied, some of the examples used actually closed deals worth in excess of six figures from attendees who liked what they heard and contacted the webinar sponsor. Another company considers their webinar leadership series to be a cornerstone of their modern content marketing strategy.

By using the best practices outlined below you will be able to deliver webinars that meet or exceed your demand generation goals:

  • Identify market trends, disruptions and challenges you can provide thought leadership around.
  • Work with your team, partners and clients and brainstorm on topics that would be considered a “must have”.
  • Carefully align your messaging and value proposition to the audience you want to invite.
  • Be very clear on what’s in it for the audience and have a clear call to action for following up.
  • Choose content that you can tell a story around, especially stories that will let your speaker’s passion and enthusiasm for how they achieved better outcomes shine.
  • Use metrics such as the Click Through Ratio (CTR) after the webinar to help you measure the outcomes.
  • Have a clear call to action of how immediately post webinar you’ll use the data collected before, during and after the webinar to better segment registrants/attendees.

Here’s to your webinar success!

Watch our on demand webcast to discover how webinars can help you convert prospects into sales:

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About the author

We are made up of marketers, sales representatives, administrators, product and project managers, developers, operational personnel and customer service agents all passionate about collaboration. Communication is at the heart of what we do, and we are continually in search of better, faster, more efficient and cutting-edge ways to connect people across geographic borders. We believe that progress emerges from people's desire to share and that everyone works better when they're having fun!

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