August 2011

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How to produce a winning webcast / Product Demo

Webcasts are generally an extremely cost efficient way of interacting with perspective clients.

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor

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Walk into any car dealership and sales people will be trying to move customers over to vehicles to get them inside and start the product demo.  It’s a natural part of the sales process because it stimulates all of our natural senses.  Now industrial automation and building automation companies get this opportunity at trade shows and training seminars, but more often than not the opportunity for a product demonstration comes in the form of a webcast or webinar. 

For anyone not familiar with a webcast it is an online session that is conducted using an online provider like Microsoft Live Meeting or Gotomeeting.  They are an online opportunity for anyone with an internet browser to interact with a presenter in real-time or just sit back and take in the information.  They are becoming one of the number one ways in which information about new technologies and products are being distributed to the masses.  While some of the service provider packages can get quite expensive, webcasts are generally an extremely cost efficient way of interacting with perspective clients.  May companies consider people who attend webcasts to be one of the hottest sales leads that a sales person can get because they provide such an interactive experience. 

While webcasts are a fantastic tool there are some pitfalls to conducting them. 

Tips to conducting a successful webcast / Product Demo

1.    Know the Web Meeting Interface – Often presenters get thrown into having to conduct a webcast or product demo at the last minute for any number of reasons.  If your company has this capability take some time to learn how the interface works.  I have been on a few webcasts where the presenter was getting coached along by people attending because they did not know how to toggle screens. 

2.    Understand that “You” are the voice of your company - Remember that a webcast or product demo is exactly the same as any other opportunity to be in front of a customer.  Take the type of considerations that you would as if the customer was directly in front of you.  Speak clearly and confidently and do not rush.  Often times presenters will rush through a webcast due to nerves about using the webcast interface.  Relax and remember that just like any other sales opportunity – You are in control.

3.    Close all Applications on your computer that you don’t need – I don’t remember how many times I have been on a webcast or demo and the presenter had MSN or Yahoo messenger open.  There is nothing more embarrassing than having a message pop up in the middle of a product demo to remind the presenter to pick up milk and bread on the way home from work.  It also sends a message to whoever is attending that they are not your priority because you are not properly focusing on them.

4.    Test the communication lines and picture – There is nothing more frustrating when joining a webcast and there are communications problems.  Don’t get me wrong, things happen when using VOIP and the phones lines all on their own.  As a presenter you don’t need any additional issues because you were too idle to test the lines.  Send the link to the webcast to a coworker and have them login and give you the thumbs up that everything is fine.  If having two people presenting have one of them login as an attendee to make sure that anyone attending is seeing what they are supposed to be seeing.  Doing this about 30 minutes prior to the actual webcast avoids any embarrassing glitches during the actual presentation.

5.    Mute all coworkers – This is a must.  I actually had one experience where I was waiting for product demos to start and had coworkers from the presenting company actually having an open dialogue about a project that they were working on.  They had obviously forgotten that they were on an open channel.  If coworkers are logged in to view your webcast ensure that you have muted them before the webcast starts to avoid any embarrassing and unprofessional situations.

6.    Record it! – Always hit the record button when you conduct a webcast for anyone.  I have been on several webcasts where the customer was so impressed with the demo that they wanted to get a copy of the demo to show their boss.  It is better to have the recording and never need it, than to not have it at all.  It is also a fantastic tool to review for yourself and improve your speaking technique.

7.    Let the customer talk – If it is a product demonstration for a specific company then, as a presenter, you need to let the customer speak.  I have seen sales people who simply overwhelm the customer with too much technical data.  Have a plan for your demonstration, but make sure to pause and let the customer ask questions.  You might take things to a bigger sale than you think.

Reliable Controls 8.    Be conscious of the time spent on questions – Webcasts and product demos are a fantastic medium for presenting your clients (and perspective clients) with the opportunity to provide you with valuable information about their project needs.  The one drawback to answering questions during a webcast that is scheduled for a specific timeframe, is that it takes the presenter off course.  It is way too easy to take a webcast off course with questions.  Once one person asks a question it often leads to other questions that can consume valuable time.  A good rule of thumb is to either take one or two questions at a time during a timed webcast, or leave all questions to the end.  I have found that asking attendees to type questions into the chat box is a great way to keep order during a webcast.  The presenter can answer them all at the end of the webcast and not have to worry about meeting time constraints. The trick is to stick to the time limits of the webcast so that the bulk of your audience gets the information that provides them with the benefits of your product or technology so that a follow-up call has a greater probability of leading to closing a sale.

9.    Follow-up – Follow-up with every one of the people who registered for the webcast and offer them a recording of the webcast.  They took the time to opt-in and register for the webcast, but life is busy.  The fact that they registered moves them down the lead funnel to a warm lead because they have indicated an interest in your topic, product, or technology. 

10.    Offer a paper or case study – At the end of the webcast offer your attendees a link to a white paper or case study.  This continues to move the attendees further down the lead generation pipeline and gets them closer to a hot lead.  Those that choose to download the paper or case study should be rated as a hotter lead than those who attended the webcast but did not. 

Webcasts and product demos are a fantastic sales tool, and an outstanding use of modern technology.  For sales people it is a cost effective way to reach customers all over the globe and interact with them about their products and services.  The biggest thing that presenters of a webcast need to remember is to take proper precautions before the webcast commences.  As the saying goes “There is no second chance to make a first impression”.   A webcast can be the first impression for a potential customer of your company, and an opportunity for a huge sale.  Every presenter of a webcast or product demo should conduct each session as if it was a huge sale.  A little mistake on a webcast  can cause a customer to simply log off and forget that they ever heard of your company.

In my personal experience I have found that conducting webcasts is a fantastic sales tool!  I have been to too many trade shows where I have met people who recognized my voice from one of the webcasts that I conducted.   I found that Sales Reps who conduct regular webcasts and product demos become recognizable and humanize the company that they work for.  It may sound cheesy at first, but remember Manny’s Sales Rules “People shop for a sales person, not a product”.   As a presenter on a webcast you are at the front line of customer relations and many presenters do not understand this concept.  They see the webcast as a burden and it often leads to not only a poor presentation, but a loss in leads.  People do not like to be sold too, but they do like to be engaged.  The webcast is just as important as a face-to-face meeting and needs to be considered that way.  Our world has become totally virtual, and when a sales rep gives a sales demo they should take the stance that they are presenting to the President of the Company.  The rule of “Always be Closing” can never be underestimated.  By recording the session Sales Reps have a resource that they can use to help close sales.


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