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Webinar Best Practices for B2B Technology Companies

People are doing so much more research online on their own before they're open to a conversation from your sales team that it's critical for you to find a way to insert yourself into that research process and be relevant.

So you're invited in as a trusted advisor. So you're seen as a teacher, a thought leader, a subject matter expert, and one of the best ways to warm up some of your leads that you know are a perfect fit but aren't ready to engage yet, is to invite them to a group demo.

If you are in a leadership, sales, or marketing leadership role in a B2B technology company, webinars need to absolutely, positively be in your playbook. Webinars at a high level are a fantastic way for you to educate and build trust at scale. For your webinar program to work effectively, it's imperative to consider your segmentation and personalization strategy to resonate more with your target audience.

Segmenting B2B Technology Webinars by Lifecycle Stage (Prospects vs. Customers)

At a high level, the first pass should be divvying up between, is the webinar for your existing customers and clients or channel partners, or is it for prospects, for leads, for people that have not turned into paying customers or clients of your firms? 

So the first level has to do more with the lifecycle stage. Are they customers, or are they pre-customers? And by pre-customers, they're hanging out like an opportunity or sales, qualified leads, sales accepted, lead marketing qualified lead, or lead. As you program, it gets more sophisticated. You could potentially slice and dice, and you’d be even more granular. But at a high level, first decide, is your webinar for existing customers or is it for people that you'd like to become paying customers. 

Who They Are: Their Buyer Persona

The next way you could segment and get more value from your webinar program is to think about who they are, not just where they are on the buyer's journey with your company but also about who they are. What is their buyer persona?

Do you sell to more than one buyer persona? And again, to review a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal client that you sell to based on actual research and some select educated speculation. Buyer personas are crucial for powering your marketing strategy and your sales strategy. In many cases, it'll also inform your product and service strategy. 

Your Webinar Strategy and Best Practices

So think about where people are in their lifecycle with your company. Then think about who they are.

With that in mind, you can usually craft a much more effective webinar strategy. When you first start, you don't necessarily need to carve everything into smaller boxes.

Usually, the most important thing is to commit to building a webinar program that teaches that educates, inspires, and, most of all, does not sell. Nobody wants to attend a webinar that's a non-stop infomercial. One of the best ways for you to tell if your webinar program is working is not just whether you inspire the right call to action near to the end, near the end of the webinar after you've already delivered value.

Evaluating Your Webinar Success

Look back at your webinar reporting and see that gee, okay, this was a 60-minute webinar I want to see:

Did most of the people who signed up for the webinar stay for most of the webinar? 

And a good way to think of this is if you were holding an offline event. 

Did most of the people sitting in the seats stay in the seats through most of your breakout session, your breakfast seminar, your keynote, whatever it is, or did they get up and leave?

Now the challenge for you when you're delivering a webinar is it's not as rude as it would be to get up and leave and walk out of an in-person event. And most of the time, you don't even detect this is going on, but you will know if you've delivered on the promise of what you used when you promoted the webinar.

If you look at your stats at the end, you look at your average session time, and you see that gee, you know, out of all the people there, the average person was there, 53 minutes or 55 minutes or 49 minutes. And we must've been doing something right.

On the other hand, if you look at your stats and you're like, wow, this was a 60-minute webinar, and the average person was there for 21 minutes. What did we do? Crap. I think we repulsed them by being too pushy, being too salesy. So always air on the side of being seen as a trusted advisor, being seen as a subject matter expert, being seen as a thought leader, regardless of whether your webinars are for existing customers or for leads and opportunities that you'd prefer to accelerate into being sales-ready sooner rather than later. 

Educational Webinars

And one more facet. One more part of your webinar program that I want you to consider:

Two different kinds of B2B tech webinars tend to work, especially well for marketing and sales. One is the educational webinar, like the thought leadership webinar, and those you'll. Put considerably more thought into, um, usually they tend to be about 40 or 45 minutes of content or in 10 or 15 minutes of Q&A, and they'll have some polling questions.

Sometimes webinars will be delivered by your internal subject matter experts.

Occasionally, someone on your team invites one or more guest experts, customers, industry analysts, other subject matter experts in your space, and maybe a panel discussion, a round table, or something like that.

Those are your major thought leadership events. And you're typically going to want to plan them with a minimum of six to eight weeks lead time. So you have enough time to get the content right, have plenty of time to promote by email, social, paid channels, potentially by co-marketing, lots and lots of time to get that right.

Of course, you'll want to record those. 

And there are lots of different ways to repurpose that recording after the event. Okay. But at a high level, that's your major thought leadership events. And depending on how vigorously you're investing in this program, you may choose to do those events quarterly, monthly, twice a month, maybe even weekly. It depends on the resources that you have to put into this kind of program. 

But if you're brand new to it, an excellent place to start is somewhere between monthly and quarterly to make sure you have plenty of time to get the content right and plenty of time to promote. Those thought leadership subject matter expert kinds of webinars, again, are usually an hour in length.

Group Demo Webinar

Many B2B technology companies get value by coming up with a 25- to 30-minute group demo to repeat a lot more frequently. So aside from your major thought leadership webinars, consider scheduling a much more regularly used group demo. 

Essentially what the group demo is for is all of those leads that are hanging out in your CRM that look like they're a perfect fit for but for whatever reason, no matter how much outreach your sales team does, you can't get them to show interest in engaging with your sales team. 

Today’s B2B Technology Research and Decision-Making Process

And that's to be expected to a certain degree, and that's relatively normal in today's buyer's journey. You see, the way people research and make purchase decisions has changed drastically over the last five years, and that's accelerated even more.

People are doing so much more research online on their own. Before they're open to a conversation from your sales team, you must find a way to insert yourself into that research process and be relevant. 

So you're invited in as a trusted advisor. So you're seen as a teacher, a thought leader, a subject expert, and one of the best ways to warm up some of your leads that, you know, that are a perfect fit but aren't ready to engage yet is to invite them to a group demo.

Comparing Educational Webinars vs. Group Demo Webinars

A group demo is typically not all that different from the kind of demo that your sales team would do on a one-on-one or a small group basis with a single account, except it's done for all of those people that are kind of, sort of interested in learning more about your company, but don't want to put themselves on the firing line yet and put themselves through a rigorous qualification process with your sales team.

And they can remain kind of semi-anonymous at semi, of course, because they're registering for a webinar, you know, who they are. But they're not going to get put on the spot. They're not going to have to reveal all the sensitive information. They don't necessarily have to bring it to their boss. She had her, all their other stakeholders, and they can come in and learn more about what it is that you do.

So, one of the significant differences between your major thought leadership webinar campaigns that you work on for several weeks and your group demo is, usually you won't change the content of the group demo all that often.  It usually changes when your product strategy changes slightly when some of your target markets change a little bit.

It's entirely possible that the slides and the demo that you use for your group demo won't change more than four to six times a year. So really, it's a highly efficient program to deliver regularly for B2B tech companies that are starting, probably biweekly, twice a month is an excellent place to start. Many software companies that ramp up and get good value from this will eventually go to weekly.

Does Audience Size Matter?

The big thing to keep in mind with these group demos is that you should continue to run them as long as there are people that show up. 

Why? Well, one of the things that sometimes gets in the head of sales, marketing teams that run group demos is when there are only four people here or six people here, eight people here, like it makes us look bad. It's negative, social proof. 

Nonsense!

There’s a big difference between inviting people to a breakfast seminar, a lunch and learn, or something like that. And the room is set for 30, and four people show up. Yes, of course, it makes you look bad when they're in a physical event, when they're in a webinar, those four people that are there have no idea that they are, are the only four people. And then there's not 40 or 400 people that are there. So don't let that get into your head. 

It's very similar to what I call the empty restaurant, waiter, or waitress, a self-fulfilling prophecy. What that’s about is you go into a restaurant, and it's like three o'clock. It's late for lunch, but it's early for dinner. And the server is annoyed that you're their only table. So instead of giving you fantastic service and getting a 50% tip, they take out their frustration that they're not making a lot of money on you and give you crappy service. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't fall into that trap with your group demos, as long as you have people showing up, because it's not a lot of work incrementally to set these up. It's usually very, very worthwhile. And what most sales teams usually report is if one or two good people from one or two target accounts show up, and that's what it took to get those one or two people from your target, account-based marketing program to accelerate.

It was more than worthwhile when you look at the big picture, the lifetime value of that potential deal. 

Reviewing Webinar Best Practices

So think about both your thought leadership webinars that you work on for several weeks, as well as your group demo webinars that you run on a much more regular basis. 

At a high level, webinars educate and build trust. 

Segment your webinars depending on whether you're inviting prospects or customers. You could perhaps also segment by buyer personas and at a high level.

There are two different kinds of webinars to run. These are pure thought leadership, educational content similar to what someone would see at a conference -- in the awareness and the consideration stage of your buyer's journey. 

And then there are group demos that are more like somewhere between your consideration and decision stage, the later stages of the buyer's journey, later stages of your sales process.


How do you currently use webinars for your B2B technology company? Which best practices are essential to your success? Let me know in the comments below.

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