Retail evolution completely eliminated the necessity of real-life communication with people in sales retaining at the same time the same efficiency. Personal selling is still one of the most effective sales instruments. However, few companies can allow themselves hiring qualified personal sales managers, especially if the market is not limited to one city or state. The solution is videocommuciation which is very close to personal interaction.
Webinar are among the most powerful additional sales channels, as the communication with the audience is conducted via web-technologies in real time. Thanks to the fact that webinar is easily available in terms of technologies and expenditures, webinars can be recommended as a sales instrument to retailers of any scale. If done skillfully, every fifth webinar visitor can become a buyer. Although it doesn’t mean that this sales channel is a must-have for every sales person. Certain industries may benefit from it, while other will yield nothing.
In what cases does the webinar work?
First of all, webinars are effective in B2B sector, especially for service-based companies. For example, financial services or insurance. In this case almost any product or service can be supported by webinar.
For the companies working with the final consumer webinars are useful if to make the decision the potential customer needs additional information. It is surely worthless to hold webinars to tell about office supplies or mattresses, or any other primitive product, which everybody knows how to use. On B2C market it is more effective to sell services, for example travel agencies’ services. Usually people gather lots of different information when choose travel agency and tour, that is why the webinar topic could be presentation of the place of destination. Another example is financial services – frequently, potential customers do not quite understand why they need these services and how they will benefit.
How to set up?
Many think that holding a webinar is technically complicated and expensive procedure. In fact, this is the reason why many companies reject this idea at the very beginning. However, as it turns out, webinar requires minimum of investments: in a month you can hold a series of highly effective webinar for peanuts. Hardly will you find cheaper channel. What is more, the webinar host is not required to have any special additional knowledge or skills. Any person who is little familiar with the Internet will understand how the webinar works. Special software or equipment is not needed too – only the computer and access to the Internet (this is cloud-based service).
How to organize?
Holding a webinar consists of 3 parts: preparation, webinar itself and processing the results. Preparation is the most responsible stage. First of all, you need to choose a correct time. Mondays and Fridays are the best option for the webinar as well as early morning or late evening.
The next task is to invite the visitors. It is rather misconception to think that people will rush to your webinar. If users register for the webinar right on the company’s website, then beside the button “visit the webinar” should be a short annotation telling about the webinar. Additionally, you can distribute the invitations to the webinar at the conferences and seminars, invite customers when meet with them personally or send them an email. Before the event you can call those who have registered for the webinar. This will allow you to learn about the people reaction, find out what questions may arise during the presentation and correct it accordingly.
And of course find a good speaker.
In-house or outside the organization?
Many companies hesitate who to invite to speak at the webinar. We tend to think that it is better to choose if favor of in-house one. Firstly, someone from your staff knows the product better. Secondly, he is more reliable. One more reason is that hired speakers usually cost a lot. If you decided to choose someone inside the company, find the most “bright” people, who are able to inspire the audience and maintain the interest. Preferably, it should be someone from sales department. Even if such person is not experienced enough, it is not a problem: have him run a webinar for company employees 5 or 10 times and he will gain the confidence. In any case – rehearse in front of the mirror or “internal” audience is essential.
Paid or free of charge?
Interestingly, for some reason people tend to think that paid webinars are more effective. Even more, many are deliberately searching for paid webinars overriding free ones. Most likely, it is because of lack of trust to “free lunch”. Some companies have noticed that number of visitors grows if the webinar becomes paid. But it is not obligatory. You can run a free webinar as well. Many depends on how your product is complicated and how much audience is interested in it. In any case, even if you have decided to run a paid webinar, the price should be affordable or nominal.
Long or short?
In no event the webinar should be longer than half an hour. During the first 15 minutes tell about the product and services, e.g. tell about the main topic of webinar. At this moment as well you should stimulate the viewer to the certain action – he needs to understand what you want him to do after the webinar ends – buy or do something else. Don’t forget that webinar goal is not education or charity – we want to sell our product. The next 15 minutes of the webinar devote to the answering to the visitors questions. In most of the cases this time is enough, but sometimes there could be more questions because of highly active and interested visitors. In this case you should answer all the questions.
How to handle provocative questions?
Sometimes it happens that you find out that there are competitors among your webinar listeners. Be calm and carry on! Competent answer to the competitor question will only make you grow in the listeners’ eyes. At times somebody may try to sabotage the webinar – simply turn off such participants. To be prepared for such problems moderator should accompany the speaker during the webinar.
What to do after the webinar?
The next stage is working with contacts you have gathered. Don’t expect everybody who came to your webinar to buy something immediately from you: you need to work with them firstly. Send the webinar materials in case the listeners has missed something – it is obligatory. Then send the commercial offer, call such people. When analyzing the webinar results, it is important to evaluate its effectiveness – calculate the conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who became your customers. If the result is way below your expectations, look for weak places: probably, visitors enrollment wasn’t done well or the speaker wasn’t prepared properly.
By the way, don’t forget that on the webinars you receive previous feedback: customers themselves tell you what they needs, what they like about your products and what they don’t like. This is a necessary part of webinar analyze.
According to estimations, approximately every 100th site visitor becomes a webinar listener. If the event is organized correctly (made calls, sent email newsletters timely, held the webinar according to the schedule) then half of the users registered for the event become your webinar real visitors. If organize everything up to standard, then every fifth webinar listener may become your customer.
Please note that webinar themselves may yield such results. If you add to this right phone call, sending commercial offers, meetings with clients – then this share will grow.
If you have decided to include webinars in your promotion strategy, then make sure to follow these rules:
- Be consistent: webinar should become an integral part of your promotion strategy. If there is no system in your actions, then you will see no effect. Generally, it is recommended to hold a webinar once a week on topic which interests customers.
- Stick to the right order: in the overall promotion strategy webinars should take the following place: they should be after cold call or registration on the website and be somewhere on the same stage with sending initial commercial offer to the client.
- Don’t get your customers confused: be honest by stating the aim of the webinar. People come to your website to find out more about your product, they seriously consider its purchase. If you announce one webinar plan, but speaker tells about completely different topics, you risk losing your listeners.
Finally, don’t lose control over the situation: webinar requires serious preparation and results analysis – only in this case it will bring benefits for your business.