Friday, July 20, 2007

Web Conferencing and the Sales Cycle

When do you use web conferencing in your sales cycle?

At the beginning, to generate leads? In the middle, to showcase product information and build excitement? At the end, to clarify details and collaborate on the final result? All of the above? (Feel free to let us know in the comments.)

In an article from (Marketers are Coming Up Short on Web2.0), I found some good news and ...strange news. The article briefly analyzes trends from a recent Knowledgestorm study on B2B lead generation. The good: 20% of decision makers watch webinars every week. The strange: only 11% of those who responded to the study contribute webinar content on a weekly basis.

The result? "'Perhaps vendors need to put webinars up front in their sales cycle, and put more effort in increasing the frequency of their webinar offerings,' according to Anne Holland, content director for MarketingSherpa."

That's right, according to those statistics we need more webinars. Web presentations are an effective (and cost-effective) way to introduce your offerings to the global market. While you can use them any way you like, the stats featured in this article do suggest that the demand exists for early presentations - that probably means broad product overviews and demonstrations that are designed to create buzz and bring in leads, rather than more focused, detailed presentations that would fall more mid- to late-cycle.

Not sure where to get started to showcase your product with a webinar?
  • Work with your marketing team to create an exciting slide presentation that covers all of the important facts about your product and allows you time to present sufficient detail. Be sure to include polls about important points or features to make sure your audience is following your ideas.
  • Plan a product demonstration (consider sharing the presentation remotely if your audience could benefit from a "test drive") that goes along with the slides to engage your viewers
  • Create a basic script for timing's sake, but be prepared to deviate from it as questions arise during the presentation (attendees are not shy about raising hands or initiating chat during most web presentations)
  • Remember to leave time at the end for additional "test drives" and Q&A
Once you've got your presentation together (and you've tested it in a presentation-like situation to avoid embarrassment), get the promotion wheels turning! Send an email news bulletin, post information on your website, or create a press release to announce the upcoming demonstrations. Schedule your presentations based on demand - don't be afraid to add more sessions if your webinar is popular!

Let us know how it goes! Questions about improving your webinars? Leave a note in the comments - I'll do my best to help.

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