Closing Sales with Webinars: Leveraging Webinars for Marketing
Jul 22 2019
Webinars never get any love. Most marketing people see them as something they know they're supposed to do to get a few more leads, but the level of thought and effort are kept to a minimum.
According to Dan Martell, this is a massive mistake (and we're fully on board with the sentiment). At Recur 2018, the Canadian five-time founder and “Chief Instigator” took us through the framework he uses to make webinars the number-one channel for customer acquisition at the companies he coaches.
For Dan, webinars are the ultimate “high-leverage sales process.” Instead of demoing your product one-to-one to a prospect, you use webinars as a one-to-many presentation of your idea and your product. Dan's secret to this is twofold:
You must produce content that converts.
You must incorporate the turn.
There are a lot of key insights in Dan's talk (along with his awesome backstory) that make watching a must, but if you don't have the time right now, here's a breakdown of Dan's framework, how he produces content that converts, and what the turn really is.
A winning webinar method
The problem with demos is that you get into a rut. In the early days, founders will do dozens, so it is understandable they become monotonous. You can't get the energy up for yet another person who wants a free consulting session who will likely ultimately ask you to send a follow-up email instead of making a decision there and then.
Dan's webinar method is designed to deal with both of these problems: motivation and closing. It follows five distinct steps:
The intro. When Dan gives a talk, he pumps himself up with a power song as he's getting on stage. He suggests your webinar have the same. “You have the chance to differentiate yourself, set the energy, and get the whole experience on the next level for your audience,” says Dan. The intro is more than just a song; it's what starts to set the mood. Then you lay out your agenda and tell everyone what's going to happen, all with higher energy than you would ever bring to a demo.
The story. This isn't the story of your product or your talk; it is the story of yourself. Why are you the person everyone should be listening to? Dan calls this Expert Story Positioning. ESP.
"To me, the story is the situation you were in before you knew the information and you were struggling, what journey you went on to learn the information you're about to teach, and then what are some of the results you've achieved, now that you've learned that content. It doesn't matter if you're selling an analytic software, or an HR product, or private management software, and you're gonna teach some topic around that. Just let them know why you're an expert.”
The framework. This is the actual content you are going to present. The whole idea is that this will move your audience closer to the idea of conversion. See below for more on this.
The turn. This is where you turn those leads into customers during the webinar. It's a natural follow-up to your content, so your audience naturally wants to convert. Keep reading for these details.
The Q&A. Finally, you can wrap up the call to be sure everyone converts.
Creating content that converts
If you're asking yourself what webinar you should create, Dan has a simple answer. Ask yourself this question:
"What does my customer need to learn or solve, before they become a customer of our product? Before they need our solution?"
The idea of the webinar is to convert them into customers. By tailoring your webinar around helping them in the steps before you talk about your product, you do two things:
You help them regardless. The webinar will have intrinsic value and, like any good marketing, it will become a useful product in and of itself.
It will set them up to use your product. If you solve that problem for them, the next logical step is to start using your product.
If you are building an HR product, the webinar should be about sourcing candidates. If you are building a project management tool, it should be about communicating with your team. If you're building a SaaS metrics tool, it should be about organizing your financials.
By aligning your webinar with your solution, you also help solve other common problems webinars have:
You attract the right customer. As Dan says, “I see a lot of people producing content. It's viral, it's interesting, they get shared. It actually doesn't attract your ideal customer.” Your core customer will want to understand how to solve their problems.
You'll get them to attend. If you are teaching them important knowledge, people will show up.
You'll keep them interested. If you're teaching people something they can use immediately after they hop off the call, they stay attentive.
Dan's final advice for creating content that converts is to make it easy to remember. That's because a framework “helps people create a portable thing they take away.” It becomes a rubric they can keep in their head and use next time they are thinking about HR or project management or SaaS metrics. And when they do, they'll also think of you.
Use the turn to get people to say yes (there and then)
Nathan Barry, founder and CEO of ConvertKit, has used exactly this method to grow his company to $10M+ in revenue a year. He would put together a webinar that answered a specific pain point that core customers of ConvertKit would have, teach them a way to solve it, then present the next level of problems and the solution to those.
“He would teach people how he got his first thousand emails on his subscriber list. So his webinar for all his partners was how to get your first thousand subscribers. And he'd teach them the three strategies to get more subscribers to their email list, and at the end, he would say the turn."
But now you have a thousand emails. How do you manage those? What campaigns do you send? Do you have a way to automate it, to know if somebody received this and not that email?
"Well, I've got the solution that helps you solve that problem. Do you want to learn more? That's the solution. Essentially, you ask for permission, and then you present the solution.”
The turn is about moving, in the webinar, from that information phase to the selling phase. If you do this right, like Nathan Barry, the sell flows naturally from the information. In total, the turn includes seven steps:
The solution - This is where you present your product as the solution to the next problem the audience is going to have, exactly as Nathan Barry did above.
The benefit - This is how your product specifically helps your core customer. It isn't all the nice features you have. It is your value proposition: how you truly bring value to your customers. It is the answer to “So what?”
The testimonials - As Dan says, “everybody likes to be first to be second.” People are always worried about being the first to take the leap. But if you can show all the people who have leapt successfully before them, then they will jump. Adding testimonials to your webinar of real customers talking about the benefits they have seen through using your product will be the biggest convincer for anybody who isn't sure whether to take that leap.
The add-ons - These are the sweeteners to get the people on the webinar to make the choice now. Dan lays out four easy-to-use add-ons that help sway people.
Data migration or other onboarding help. If your customers think it will be a hassle to sign up for the product there and then and port over their data or get started with the product, promising them help with this immediately makes the choice easier.
A digital course. This is a natural progression of the webinar model. You have shown them how to triumph over their initial problem; then you've presented the next set of issues and given them the solution. Next is to help them to develop the skill sets to tackle bigger problems in their role. Or it could be something tangential such as teaching CRM users how to be better marketers, whatever they might be missing that you can continue to help them with.
Templates for your product. “ConvertKit, with the email automation. They create full email campaign templates for customers that bought on webinar, that wanted to have a lead nurture campaign, or a post-webinar follow-up campaign, etc. So swipe file, take templates. Really straightforward.”
Other tools or partnerships. If you have partners, ask them if you can offer a discount on your webinar. If you have other products, offer them at a discount.
The guarantee - Even after all that, prospects won't want to drop money there and then if they are worried they'll be making a mistake. A strong guarantee helps allay those fears. Dan suggests following the Costco model: you can return anything and they'll give you your money back (watch for how Dan's dad has taken advantage of this!).
The scarcity - If add-ons are the carrot, scarcity is the stick. You offer discounts, add-ons, consulting, etc., but for a limited time only. You say that you can get the deal but only within the next 24 hours. Or only the first 10 people get it. This shows the audience they have an opportunity right then but have to make that decision to convert.
The call to action - The final step is the call to action. This isn't just “Hey, sign up.” It is giving people the link to sign up, telling them to click the link right there, and helping them through the signup process. It isn't so much a call to action as much as just action.
No more death by demos
Using this framework, a founder can reach hundreds more people than they ever could with one-on-one demos. More importantly, they can help hundreds more people than with demos. By creating a webinar focused around the specific problems of your core customer, you'll help them and naturally lead them to your product.
“Selling is nothing more than transferring enthusiasm."
If you follow up the help you provide with the turn and make sure you transfer your enthusiasm about your product to your prospects, then you can turn them into customers right there. Do that, and Dan is sure you'll show webinars the love they deserve.
By Patrick Campbell
Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.