Traditional B2B sales funnels have only recently begun to change to accommodate digital realities.
While consumers demand sophisticated digital apps and multiple sales channels, organizations serving business customers often still rely on the skills and connections of individual sales staff.
In-person contact and inefficient price-based sourcing models that rely more on competitive RFPs than the creation of actual value and sharing of in-depth product and industry information.
Sales and marketing managers operating in this environment have always been used to a linear process – leads come in, cultivate the prospect, give them information, make a call, close the deal (and sometimes create a funnel-loop with referrals and customer reviews).
But in the digital world, the process is no longer linear. People’s interactions with your brand across touchpoints are getting harder to track in the age of data privacy, multi-device browsing and dark social.
What’s more, today’s B2B buyers prefer to do their own research and actually reach out to companies they’re potentially interested in doing business with only once they’re far closer to signing a sales contract than they used to be.
In short, you might be talking to somebody for the first time, and they’re already at step six in the buying process. And if you initiate a conversation with “who we are” introductions, it’s going to be a short phone call.
Nurture content for interactivity, personalization, and automation
In this climate, the appeal of self-service, on-demand, long-form video presentations makes a whole lot of sense. Indeed, even though webinars have been around since the early days of digital marketing, they have evolved quite a bit since that time, as ClickMeeting’s Agnes Jozwiak is quick to point out.
Given the interactivity, personalization and automation features supported by today’s webinar software platforms, moreover, it’s easy to see how valuable they can be in terms of lead capture, audience engagement, and sales qualification.
Today’s B2B suppliers need to tackle all of these elements at once. They need to make everything available to everyone, no matter where they are in their journeys.
And they need to ensure that the investments they put into building sophisticated interactive content have a fighting chance of driving value over time.
That’s why ClickMeeting’s newest collection of features, which they’re calling the “webinar flywheel,” makes a whole lot of sense. Making the most of your opportunities to interact, personalize and automate your webinar program might represent your best shot to make 2020 your best B2B sales year yet.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the reasons why.
The evolution of the sales model
More informed prospects mean that the sales model has shifted from basic sales pitches to an information-based and education-based process.
Within that new digital reality, companies must focus more on educational content and thought leadership, and that too must evolve.
With the understanding that unknown prospects are researching your company and product online long before you make the sales call, companies have been seeding the landscape with their own thought leadership.
This includes bylined articles in industry publications, white papers, and case studies.
This works – but still is inadequate. Buyers today were born in the interactive digital world, and they expect more than a brochureware website.
While white papers and ebooks can be informative and useful as part of “due diligence,” assets like these still don’t give your prospects an opportunity to interact digitally.
Taking a step beyond static thought leadership, the webinar has evolved as a useful means of lead generation.
The hard sell is over
Increasingly, buying decisions are based on the buyer’s own research – and, as a result, by the quality of the research being made available by the seller. Basic hard-sell messaging is no longer effective, and buyers are not likely to be swayed by a glad-handing sales rep with a firm handshake.
Saying “We’re the best” doesn’t cut it, because the buyer wants to know why you’re the best – and more importantly, how your solution fits in with their overall strategy.
The webinar format provides an excellent opportunity to explain that in-depth, and not just from the sales rep’s point of view – the best webinars appear unbiased, and will often include thought leaders not just from the seller’s company, but from other companies as well.
A moderator is in charge, asking questions of all panelists, allowing each one to present a point of view.
Again, the discussion isn’t meant to sell a product directly – it’s meant to elicit discussion. Further, it should include a live question-and-answer period at the end for attendees to participate directly.
Promoting and repackaging your webinars
“Build it and they will come” only works in the movies. If you want to succeed at webinar-based marketing, you need to promote it. Prior to the webinar, social media blasts and enticing email messages are appropriate.
If, like the most effective webinar promoters, you include thought leaders from other companies, make sure those co-marketing partners promote the even actively as well.
The post-webinar follow-up is maybe even more important. If you had two or three hundred attendees, what do you do with that when you’re done?
You have likely captured all of their contact information, so this would be a great opportunity to follow up with an offer such as a free download of a white paper or case study.
Finally, make sure you are hosting webinars that are of interest to your target audience – not just telling them what they already know or attempting to make a blatant sales pitch.
The webinar is the ultimate knowledge-based tool. Indeed, a single webinar may get some results, but a series of webinars will be even better. Host them on a regular basis, and over time build up your attendee list.
You may eventually have enough similarly-themed webinar recordings in your library to package them as a course.
Keep your presentations interesting, with plenty of actionable advice, useful statistics, survey results and insights to keep people coming back for more.
As we head into 2020, the time is right to reevaluate your current sales and marketing programs, to determine which channels have the greatest performance potential in the year ahead, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing them.
By offering your audience an ongoing flow of interactive, engaging and value-centric webinars, you’ll put yourself in a position to maximize their nurture journeys.