Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock, but when I attended a recent sales webinar with one of OpenView’s portfolio companies, I was blown away by how much webinar technology has evolved.
Interactive, real-time polls? Genius. Valuable statistics that show each participant’s engagement throughout the presentation? Brilliant. Webinar technology has advanced so much, in fact, that it’s become an incredibly effective sales tool.
Going back to the sales webinar I attended with our portfolio company, GoToMeeting’s software helped the business achieve 75 percent participation in its live polls. After it was over, the application issued a report that let them know who stayed on the longest, who dropped off first, who had multiple browsers open (they weren’t paying attention), and who answered what in the poll.
Talk about a great way to prioritize and plan for your post-webinar sales conversations.
Of course, successful webinars don’t just happen because of great software. The right tools and features certainly help, but truly engaging webinars are the product of highly organized, well-informed sales teams that prepare much more than a simple Power Point presentation.
Are you a webinar rookie that needs some guidance before hosting your first one? Or, do you think your webinars could use a little help? HubSpot’s Mike Volpe offers up these 10 best practices for hosting highly successful webinars:
- Send reminders: Leading up to the webinar, email your scheduled attendees the day before and the hour before the webinar begins.
- Check the phone number: Do a test run with a fellow coworker to make sure the phone line and webinar software is working properly.
- Give instructions: You don’t want your participants guessing how the webinar will be run. Tell them how you plan to address questions and how long the webinar is scheduled to run.
- Take your time: If your company is demoing complicated software, don’t move too quickly. Depending on the user’s bandwidth and refresh rate, it may take five seconds for them to see what you’re seeing on your screen.
- Stick to the schedule: Your attendees likely took time out of their busy day to attend the webinar. Make sure you fit in the core material of the presentation within the time frame you asked those prospects to set aside. Some may stay longer, but you don’t want anyone feeling cheated out of critical information.
- Close unnecessary applications: This applies mostly to Outlook and any instant messaging software, which can cause distractions and interruptions during the webinar.
- Start a little late: You don’t want to be tardy, but starting two minutes past the hour gives participants time to call in. And, if it’s just two minutes, those that called in early won’t be frustrated by the delayed start.
- Get there early: While some participants may be a few minutes late, others may call in early. You don’t want them to get there before you, so call in to the meeting at least 15 minutes early. That way, everyone knows they’re in the right place.
- Provide pre-webinar prompts and slides: For example, put up a slide with a timer letting participants know when the presentation will begin. Make frequent announcements before you begin to let people know their audio and application are working.
- Follow-up within 24 hours: Some of your webinar participants will request copies of the presentation material, but it’s crucial to follow-up with everyone within 24 hours with recordings and slides. This step will also help motivate the participants to take the next step while everything is still fresh in their mind.
Building off of the final item on Volpe’s list, your follow-up strategy is just as important as the execution of the webinar itself. After all, that’s your opportunity to continue the engagement with those prospects and ultimately encourage them to move forward with your company.
So, how can you do that?
- The sales webinar host should let the attendees know at the end of the meeting that a rep will be following up with them in the upcoming day to see if they have any questions or would like to further explore the product/offering.
- An email should be sent out to all attendees within 24 hours of the webinar.
- A call should be made to all attendees within 48 hours of the webinar.
Make sure your reps are prepared with content and scripts for their post-webinar follow-ups. And, of course, be sure to use the data derived from the presentation to facilitate the conversations. Dan McCade, president of prospect development firm PointClear, provides a few more tips for following up on webinar attendees, too. It’s a long read, but he’s got some great advice, so take a few minutes to read it over.
Sales webinars are an amazing opportunity to turn prospects into qualified opportunities in your sales process. Don’t lose out on them because you weren’t buttoned up!
Devon Warwick is a Sales and Marketing Analyst at OpenView Venture Partners focused primarily on business development for portfolio companies. You can follow her on Twitter @devwarwick.