September 30, 2021
Use online events to generate leads and empower sales.
Closing sales is like a 4x100m relay. Sure, you need fast people. But if you want to win the race, coordination is just as important as speed. Everyone needs to know what’s going on at each stage of the race.
Otherwise, things like this happen.
Coordination matters in winning business, too.
Because if sales doesn’t tell marketing what questions their leads have, marketing won’t produce content that actually answers those questions.
And if your marketing team drives a ton of the wrong leads, sales won't be able to convert any of them — and marketing will continue churning out content for the wrong audience.
But if you design your webinars and online events with sales enablement in mind, you can host events that generate buzz and business, too. Here's where to start.
To create content that benefits sales, design your online events strategy with the following questions in mind:
What do your customers need? How can your product or service address those needs? Who do they want to hear from?: If you’re doing your job, you should have some idea about who your customers are, what they need, and how your product can meet that need. But because they talk one-on-one with customers each day, your Sales team may spot changes in customer behavior or trends before you.
What are your customers’ biggest pre-purchase objections?: Many buying decisions — or non-decisions — are based on objections about your product that may be preconceived, inaccurate or outdated. If you can alleviate those concerns early in the process through your marketing and online events content, you can more easily earn your customers’ trust and turn more leads.
But since your sales colleagues are the ones negotiating with customers and finalizing sales, they’ll more likely know more about these pre-purchase objections than you. So talk to your sales team members about how they negotiate with your leads and how they counteract your customers’ concerns.
Armed with those insights, you can address pre-purchase objections upfront through an event session, demo, Q&A or chat. Once you’ve successfully allayed your customers’ objections, you can trigger a pop-up offer to try your service, or discuss it further with Sales. This capitalizes on their changed opinion to guide them further along the purchasing pipeline.
What kinds of leads have proven most successful and most unsuccessful in the past? What demographic, behavioral or personal characteristics do they share?
This can inform your online events campaigns and programming ideas. That’s doubly important for paid advertising campaigns since narrowly targeted ads tend to outperform those with overly broad audiences.
Which of your product or service’s features are saving them hours per week? What pain points are current customers experiencing? Through your virtual event content, you can center your value proposition and branding on the former, and provide more information or instructions on the latter.
Now that you’ve seen how sales and customer success insights can drive your event marketing strategy, let’s look at the reverse. How can your virtual event and its content help your sales and customer success teams?
B2B buyers aren’t satisfied with one demo call anymore. They conduct more research than ever before committing to a product: The average B2B buyer consumes 13 pieces of a company’s content before making a purchase from them.
That requires a ton of time and effort from your content team. And if you’ve got multiple core products and multiple buyer personas, it gets even worse.
Unless, you’re regularly hosting online events that create compelling content for you. Because every time you host an online event, you’re getting hours of raw material…. Just by letting smart, interesting people talk.
If you can effectively repurpose that content, you can produce weeks of valuable sales enablement content in just one event. (Check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s content model for inspiration.) From a cost-benefit perspective, it’s a no-brainer.
So as you plan your event strategy, create sessions that you’ll be able to rework into sales enablement material later on. Examples include educational webinars, product training sessions, customer testimonials and interviews.
Sure, sales is both art and science, but it’s primarily a numbers game. Because purchasing decisions can be influenced by so many variables and unpredictabilities, your sales colleagues always need a steady stream of leads. And marketers can chip in simply by widening their own pool.
Broadening your pre-event marketing channels can spread your brand and message to previously untapped audiences, which gives your sales team both a higher number and a wider variety of leads to work with.
Leading up to your online events, you could arrange appearances on industry podcasts (or create one of your own!), publish guest posts by presenters on your blog, tag presenters in social media posts and encourage them to share, or use affiliate marketing to empower partners and influencers to promote as hard as you.
Bonus: Use gated content and premium offers, which require visitors to enter their email address before accessing the material. This will help you earn more leads from your content, whether or not those visitors end up registering for your virtual events.
Breaking news: Your prospects need different information at different stages of the buying process. Someone who just switched industries might need a jargon-free intro to your service, but your long-time leads need specific information that’ll convince them to make a final purchase.
So if you only create very general “lead generation” content, your sales team will struggle to convert those interested leads into customers. Account for that in your online event strategy—and create targeted offerings for buyers in each stage. Here’s where to start:
Attract phase: In the attract phase, prospects will likely need an introduction to your company: What do you do? What specific offering separates you from the 5-6 other competitors selling the same widget as you?
If you’re selling a complex tech product or you’re in a highly specialized industry, they may need a jargon-free explanation about your industry and value proposition as well.
For these brand-new prospects, you need:
Convert phase: You’ve grabbed your audience’s attention. Gold star for you. Now you need to nudge them closer to purchase. Continue the conversation with videos that show and explain your product’s value. This includes:
Close + delight phase: Time to seal the deal.
At every point in the process, your sales team needs to understand exactly where their leads are in the sales funnel, then give them the resources they need to proceed to the next step.
But it’s not like your sales team can just ask,” Hey, Billy Bob, how many more meetings is it going to take for you to buy our widget?” halfway through the demo call.
And if Sales receives a spreadsheet of virtual event attendees after the fact, without any additional context, they won’t always know where to begin.
But through breakout sessions, you see where individuals are in their buying process.
Since they occur simultaneously, breakout sessions force attendees to choose one session at the expense of the others. So if you schedule multiple breakout sessions targeted at top-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel buyers, your guests will choose one over the other, thus telling you what information they need right now.
For example, a breakout session for top-of-funnel leads might discuss the broader industry context, with the goal of conveying the value of your product. But since bottom-funnel leads have already interacted with your product, they’ll find a product demo more beneficial. And because these two sessions appeal to two separate buyer personas, it’s less likely that a single person will be interested in both sessions at the same time.
Your virtual event software comes with interactive features that identify and spotlight your most engaged audience members. It also collects down-to-the-minute engagement statistics for each individual, for each session, enabling you and your sales team to pinpoint a potential lead’s interests with previously unmatched precision. Take advantage—and encourage your presenters to do the same!
Through their Q&As responses, chat and poll activity and sessions, your most engaged leads are telling you, and by extension your sales team, about their purchasing behavior, budget and priorities. Your sales team can then use this information to decide which leads to pursue, then craft more personalized and tailored appeals for their most important leads.
During your virtual events, have your sales team join a networking session for an hour or two. There, they can use filters to find high-value prospects in relevant industries, job functions and seniority levels. Then they can book a meeting or even conduct a video chat right there in the event room.
The single best way to empower sales? Take the pressure off of them.
The more customers you keep, the less prospects your sales team has to cold call each quarter.
But right now, customer retention is both more important and more difficult than ever: It’s six to seven times more expensive to score a new customer than to retain a current one. Nearly half of consumers say they’ll stop buying from a company if they have a subpar experience — and 91 percent of people unhappy with a brand leave without complaining to someone that could potentially alleviate the issue.
But through webinars and online events, you can prevent churn and promote customer engagement.
Through video tutorials or product onboarding webinars, help them master your product—and achieve the outcomes you promised in your marketing.
Or consider creating an exclusive media hub for your customers, so they can enjoy more in-depth information and feel more connected to your brand and community.
You’ve learned the importance of cross-team collaboration in creating events that entertain your leads *and* turn them into customers. In keeping with our theme of collaboration, form a committee comprising all three teams so that you can present ideas and create virtual events that benefit all parties and their long-term goals.
Want to learn more about how the world’s most innovative companies are using webinars and virtual events to advance their business and marketing goals? BigMarker experts are here to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see for yourself.