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  • Jamie Vassar

A recipe for success: 5 tips for running your first sales webinar

I am what my sister calls “a panic planner.” While I’m typically laid back and, admittedly, a bit of a procrastinator, if something makes me anxious I switch my brain to prepare. The habit started in high school after I joined the forensics team. I knew what I had to do but my brain jumbled all of the information together and made me freeze up.  Luckily, she was there with her recipe for success— lists— breaking up stressful, abstract tasks into smaller, attainable goals that would keep me on track and focused. Since then, I have lived by the rule:…

I am what my sister calls “a panic planner.” While I’m typically laid back and, admittedly, a bit of a procrastinator, if something makes me anxious I switch my brain to prepare. The habit started in high school after I joined the forensics team. I knew what I had to do but my brain jumbled all of the information together and made me freeze up. 

Luckily, she was there with her recipe for success— lists— breaking up stressful, abstract tasks into smaller, attainable goals that would keep me on track and focused. Since then, I have lived by the rule: when in doubt, list it out.

If you’re in the weeds planning your first sales webinar, you might want to consider a similar approach. For the uninitiated, webinars (web seminars) are video workshops or lectures that allow brands and companies to share knowledge, new ideas, and updates in a more approachable way. 

They’re also used to build and nurture relationships, credibility, and broaden audience bases. Webinars have become a useful tool for generating leads and starting conversations — especially this year, when remote work has become the norm. 

Yet, they can seem a bit daunting if you’ve never put one together before. If you’re a first-timer feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are five tips that might help break down the beast into manageable, bite-sized tasks.

Set a clear objective

First and foremost, you need a subject to base your webinar around. It should be as clear and concise as you can make it. A precise topic will help you stay focused and allow people to understand what they’re signing up for or why they should want to attend. 

To help you choose or narrow down your choices, don’t be afraid to utilize your team. Review the current content to see which topics had higher engagement or if any similar threads emerge. Survey your customer support and sales team to acknowledge pain points—how does your product or idea create the best solution or shine a light on something better than your competitors? Do they notice any trends in responses or frequently asked questions you can address?

The next step is identifying which platform will fit your company’s communication style and audience preferences. Doing this ultimately affects the flow of your presentation. The more in your element you are, the more comfortable your audience will be. 

On average, webinars run in the realm of about 30-60 minutes, so make sure that you can adequately discuss your topic at length, leaving time for questions afterward. 

Understand your audience

Once you feel comfortable with the “what” of your presentation, it’s time to move on to the “who.” 

When preparing a webinar, there are many things to consider, but two key ingredients to effectively build an audience are format and platform, as previously mentioned (i.e., Zoom, Google Hangout, or more structured sites like WebinarJam). Your format needs to fit your presentation’s purpose. Standard webinar formats include tutorials/demos, reviews, and AMAs (ask me anything).  

When deciding on a platform, some questions to address are: How much is your budget? What’s your audience more likely to use? How many attendees are you looking to accommodate? Can the platform perform the desired features? Furthermore, does it play to your speaker’s strengths? Does your speaker or speakers identify with the target audience? Do they speak their language? Can they hold authority for an hour?

Do these questions have you sweating? Don’t worry, you can break it down even further. The average adult’s attention span for presentations is a whopping seven minutes. While that seems like a lot of pressure, it’s a discreet tool to guide your timing. To ensure that your audience is fully engaged, shake things up by including screen or slide sharing, surveys, and video demos through embeds like Loom

Time your advertising

You could have one heck of a presentation, but it won’t mean much if no one’s there to see it. Before diving in too far, make sure to check your topic’s search potential. Consider content promotion and how you want to advertise. 

Research shows email typically drives 79% of registrations from existing customers. New audiences can be found through social media promotions. Also, co-marketing efforts with trusted partners can broaden your scope to untapped markets. 

Like most marketing, advertising your webinar is all about timing. Start promoting at least a month in advance and increase your notifications as the date nears. You are more than likely to get the most interest nearer to the date. However, casting a wide net earlier gives you time to gauge interest through multiple channels, including your company’s main page. 

If your site contains an event/resources tab, add your webinar onto the calendar or highlight it in a banner ad. Posting and emailing in the mornings will also give you an edge, making sure you’re the first thing your prospects see in their inbox. 

Rehearse

As cliché as it is, practice makes perfect (or at least better than unrehearsed). A lot can go wrong with digital presentations, so always do a dry run to work out the kinks. Choose a room where there’s no background noise or opportunities for interruptions. Keep the space clean and clutter-free and your notifications muted so you won’t be distracted and can maintain a professional demeanor.

Include a welcome into the script that informs the attendees what to expect and what value you’re providing. If you have other presenters, be knowledgeable about their credentials so you can properly introduce them. While you don’t need to have a full speech ready, creating bullet points on notecards will keep you on track with your timing. Also, make sure to have some prepared questions in your back pocket, too, in case your Q&A portion is a little quiet.

Next, test all equipment and be ready at least 15 minutes before the presentation starts. Have at least one person from your team in attendance who is not responsible for the production who can notify you of technical issues such as audio and visual inconsistencies in real-time without being evident to the presenters. They’ll also be able to provide feedback afterward from an attendee’s point of view.

Finally, account for pauses in your presentation to connect with your audience. By asking questions, checking if anything is unclear midway, or even calling on participants by name, you’re able to further engage them.

Leave On a Call To Action

Even after the webinar ends, it’s essential to keep your audience engaged to get the most value. Let them know precisely what you want them to do. Give them the tools to access downloads or info you want them to have easily. 

It’s also a good idea to send a follow-up email to survey your participants on the next topic they’re likely to attend, how you could improve the presentation, and links on where to find you if they want to connect further, or ask some more follow-up questions. Also, be sure to thank them for their time. A little courtesy can go a long way and help set you up for more successful webinars in the future. 

A final note

Planning your first webinar can seem like a monumental task, and in some ways, it is. As with any first, it might not turn out the way you expected— but it may also exceed your expectations. By utilizing your team’s strengths, creating an interactive experience and having these five tips in your arsenal, every attempt will get smoother

Remember, if you find yourself in a sinking hole just take a deep breath and repeat the mantra: when in doubt, list it out. Each task you check off as “complete” is a tiny victory that can propel you toward a great finish. So, try not to worry, stay focused, and you’ll be on your way toward a great first sales webinar. 

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