If you have ever attended a sales webinar, you know how boring they can be. As marketers and salespeople, we must plan well, select a timely topic, and deliver a highly-engaging presentation to keep attendees engaged and generate new leads.
You may have many non-customer contacts in your customer relationship management (CRM). But those are not leads. You have acquired some of their personal information, but they haven’t engaged with your brand yet.
They become leads when they start to interact with your brand, and sales webinars—if executed properly—are a terrific way to turn those contacts into active leads. Research shows that 76% of marketers say webinars allow them to reach more leads.*
That’s why we created a list of 12 sales webinar tips and best practices to help you strategically plan, execute, and follow up on your webinars to generate new leads.
Webinar basics and best practices
Businesses host many types of free webinars, from sales webinars for lead generation to webinars focused on customer retention.
Below, we focus exclusively on sales and marketing webinars to generate new leads. But first, let’s cover some general tips that apply to any type of webinar.
Start planning weeks in advance
If you decide to throw together a last minute webinar, stop or postpone it for a few weeks to prepare. Why?
First, initial invites should be sent weeks in advance, with subsequent follow-up reminders to increase attendance.
Second, four or five days isn’t enough time to effectively assess the needs of your target audience and plan a webinar that speaks to those needs.
Third, you’d be wasting valuable time rushing to plan and ignoring other priorities, only to end up with seven attendees, none of which ever convert into customers.
Always conduct a trial run
A few days before the webinar, hold a trial run and include everyone who will be involved in the actual webinar. This ensures presenters who are not familiar with your webinar tool are clear on the process. A trial run dramatically reduces the possibility of running into a technical error during the presentation.
Incorporate a behind-the-scenes webinar administrator
Let’s say you do run into a technical issue, despite having completed a trial run, having an administrator behind the scenes allows the presenters to continue while the issue is resolved in the background.
Keep it upbeat
With practice, you’ll be able to set the right pace and tone—keep it upbeat, friendly, but professional. Respect your audience’s time and engage them by packing every sound bite with new and useful information. Tell an interesting story to illustrate your main points.
12 Webinar best practices to generate more qualified leads
Sales webinars should not be salesy. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you’re talking to contacts who are just starting to engage with you, you should speak to them the way you speak to leads who just entered the funnel.
It’s better to think of it as a marketing webinar to drive sales than a “sales webinar.” Here are 12 best practices to help you find your own recipe for success:
1. Educate readers about a problem they didn’t know they had
Explain that so many of your customers have struggled with X, Y, or Z. And that it’s a common challenge for many people in their industry. Your webinar attendees will start thinking about how that affects their own organizations. It will create concern and a sense of urgency.
This is not about creating a panic, but rather sharing information that will help them to succeed. Those who don’t stay ahead of emerging trends and technologies get left in the wake of those that ride the wave of the future. We don’t win clients’ loyalty and prospects’ trust by instilling fear into them. We do it by educating, inspiring, and motivating them.
2. Explain the importance of solving that problem
Use real world anecdotes to illustrate the consequences of not solving that problem. Tell a story about a business that had that problem and ignored it. Don’t mention any names yet, because you have their attention now and need to leverage that to continue building suspense and sense of urgency.
3. Tell a true story about a business that experienced the same problem
Storytelling in marketing is a very effective way to capture your target audience’s attention—as long as you can tell an engaging story. No rambling allowed.
Tell a tale of a business you were personally involved with that experienced this problem. Later you’ll let on that that business was one of your clients, but not yet.
Instead, allow your audience to speculate about how that business solved the problem. Which tactics did they use and how did they use them to resolve their challenge?
Stop for a few seconds at the point where the business in question is in trouble and can’t find a solution no matter how hard they try. Let it all sink in.
4. Present a solution to that problem
It’s still too early to mention your brand. You’re still telling your story. But reassure your audience that there is a solution to this problem, which you’ll get to shortly.
First you gave them reason to be concerned. Then you eased their anxiety by reassuring them that there is a solution and you’ve seen it work in real life.
You’re starting to earn their trust at this point.
Reiterate that you personally know the leaders of the business that experienced this problem. Now, you tell the audience what the solution was: using the type of product or service you sell (continue to refrain from mentioning your brand or product).
Finally, share the outcome of solving the problem and the incredibly positive impact it had on that business’s growth.
5. Now… let the cat out of the bag
At this point, you confess that the company in question was—and still is— a client of yours. Explain the role you and your business played in helping the company solve its problem. Now you start discussing your product or service and how it was instrumental in facilitating the solution.
If possible, add a client testimonial to validate your story. Or better still, ask that client if they are comfortable joining the webinar just to say a few words and answer a few questions.
Once attendees hear a peer explain how instrumental your brand and product were in solving their problem, they’ll be hooked. Engagement levels will rise and the attendees will start to see your brand in a more positive light.
6. Make your webinars interactive
Avoid creating a webinar that is nothing more than a slide deck full of busy, distracting slides, with a presenter reading the text on the slides.
Instead, use interactive features offered by your webinar application.
Run polls during your webinar to gain actionable insight into prospects’ needs, challenges, goals, pain points, etc.
Consider allowing attendees to raise their hand and ask questions during the presentation instead of making them wait until the Q&A session after the presentation.
Interaction during webinars increases engagement, delivers a better customer experience, and increases attendees’ desire to learn more about your brand and continue to engage with you.
7. Use strategic tactics to increase engagement
Most of us have sat through a work meeting where someone presents a busy PowerPoint slide deck full of text. The presenter reads the slides to you. They lose your attention faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100-meter dash.
Your goals with a sales webinar are to engage attendees, keep their attention, and deliver valuable takeaways that will help them in their daily life or job.
Here are a few tips to increase sales webinar engagement:
Minimize the text on each slide. Instead use more imagery like graphs or photos that illustrate your point without distracting the audience. You want attendees to listen to you, not spend their time reading 15 bullet points while your presenter is simultaneously reading them aloud.
Send the presentation to attendees after the webinar. Tell attendees from the start that they’ll receive the slides or recording after the webinar so they don’t need to take notes and can focus more on what you’re saying.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. To deliver an engaging sales webinar, you must know the subject matter inside and out. Then you can talk through each slide in a conversational manner rather than reading pre-pared talking points to the audience.
Ask questions during the presentation. Include running polls, ask a question and encourage views to “raise their hand” (i.e. click the Raise Hand button) to answer. Your backstage admin takes that person off mute so they can answer. If more people start to raise their hand, allow them to chime in one at a time even if it means you have to skip a few slides.
8. Create a killer registration landing page
A sales webinar registration landing page matters more than many people think. It can determine whether or not someone actually registers. To create an awesome registration page, follow these tips:
Make your webinar title and description engaging, yet clear. You want to simultaneously 1)eliminate any confusion around what the webinar will deliver and 2) generate excitement around what registrants will learn. When someone lands on your page they enter a type of negotiation with you. Are they willing to trade their personal information for what they will receive in return? You have to convince them that the value they will receive is well worth a few bits of information.
Use concise copy: Say as much as you can in as few words as possible. Use bullets points to describe the benefits they’ll receive from attending. Use plenty of white space and non-distracting imagery. And try to limit the fields on your registration form to just name, company, and email address.
Once you have this information, you can use it in email marketing campaigns which offer more valuable content that is gated behind forms with additional fields, allowing you to build their profile over time.
PRO TIP: Always make it clear that after registering they will receive a confirmation email with all the information needed to log in and attend. This reduces the possibility that they will enter a fake email address.
9. Don’t forget to optimize the confirmation page
The confirmation page is a perfect opportunity to continue engaging prospects. Include a CTA for a piece of valuable content related to the webinar topic. They’ll see it and probably think, “why not?”.
Doing this increases the time they spend on your site and therefore the likelihood they will eventually convert into customers.
10. Send multiple reminder emails
People register for events then forget about them. It happens all the time. So, send reminder emails one week, one day, and/or a few hours before the webinar. Also include calendar files so they can save the event on their work calendar and receive reminders from there as well.
As a bonus tip, send two different reminder emails each time—one to registrants and another one to those you invited but never registered. Many people intend to register but never get around to it.
You’d be surprised how many people register a few hours before the webinar begins. Data from a major webinar application company indicates that on average users see a 20% increase in registration by reminding people to register a few hours before the webinar takes place.**
11. Follow up with everyone you’ve invited
Following up is important because it illustrates that you are genuinely invested in helping your customers succeed. Use these three tactics when following up with attendees, attendees who asked questions that weren’t answered, no-shows, and invitees who didn’t register.
Attendees: Send a follow-up email thanking them for attending and providing them with the presentation slides, as you said you would.
Attendees with unanswered questions: Individually reach out to anyone who asked a question that wasn’t answered. Call or email them directly. Apologize and explain that you ran out of time and couldn’t answer their question. Provide a detailed answer and, if possible, any resources that provide more information on the subject of their question.
No-shows and invitees who didn’t register: For this group, send a follow-up email that includes a recording of the live webinar. This is a great goodwill gesture and may be enough to turn a contact into an active lead.
12. Find the best webinar solution for your needs
Remember to select the best webinar hosting solution for your needs. Make a needs checklist and evaluate various options until you find the one that checks the most boxes on your list.
Just as with any new software solution, do your due diligence, compare various vendors, ask for a free trial so you can test it before purchasing it, and take your time evaluating the pros and cons of each vendor you’re considering.
Ready to start running your own sales webinars?
Use this step-by-step guide to run a successful sales webinar that generates high-quality leads who are more likely to convert into customers.
To explore Insightly’s platform for sales and marketing, request a demo.
* Webinar ON24 Benchmarks 2019, ON24, 2019
** Ultimate Webinar Stats for 2020, WorkCast, 2020