Posts Tagged ‘Greatwebmeetings’

Webinar Strategy and Elephant Chunks

by Wayne Turmel on April 19, 2010

Marketing webinars, customer training, and  recordings for your website are all things that are part of a small company’s arsenal but who has time, budget and where do you start? “We know we need to get a webinar strategy in place, but we don’t have time, budget or expertise”, is maybe the most common complaint I hear from almost all small companies and startups.

It can seem daunting, but you develop a web  presentation strategy for your company the same way you eat an elephant- one bite at a time.

Actually, the process of turning that big scary project into fork-sized chunks is pretty simple. The trick is to ask oneself a series of simple but powerful questions and think about the answers. Once you know what you want and where you are starting from, the path forward will often become clear.

  • Do you want to do web presentations internally (within your company and project teams) or externally (customers, channel partners, investors) or both? Many companies have internal communication and collaboration tools  that can be used  to record presentations for your website or web demos and webinars. The work of choosing a platform and having to do multiple presentations may already be solved with a push of the “record” button. Otherwise, realize you only now need to find a tool that can do everything you need. Either way you’re further along than you were a minute ago.
  • What are the things I’d like to do if money, time, expertise etc. weren’t a factor? In a perfect world you and your stakeholders probably know what you’d like to accomplish. List them and then take a look…. Can a marketing webinar be turned into part of a recorded archive for website visitors? Can it serve as training for your channel partners? What initially looks like 3 or 4 separate tasks could be a well-planned one that serves several purposes, (Probably not perfectly, but enough to get started and you can always perfect them later).
  • Who internally has the resources we need- and if not where can we find them? There’s an assumption that if you’re doing technical presentations, the decision making on this rests with IT or your technical people- not necessarily. You’d be surprised who you can draw on if you look past the silos.
  • Which chunk of the elephant do I tackle first? Where are you feeling the most financial pain? If travel costs are killing you, get internal communication up and running first and save the money for the future. If lead generation is your priority, schedule a single event and be prepared to record it so that you have both a live event and web content people can find long after the event.

Your webinar strategy doesn’t have to be a major undertaking and require a huge investment of money or precious time. All it takes is a deep breath, some key questions and a little ketchup for those elephant chunks

Selling when you’re not there

by Wayne Turmel on December 18, 2009

selling when not thereThere’s been a lot of research done about how customers- especially B2B customers- buy online.  The difference could mean a lot of money to your company and make your sales force’s jobs easier.  The good news is it means less work for you and your sales people if you do it right.

The problem is that many companies are still locked in last century’s sales thinking. That model was: hook them early in the sales cycle and get them to commit to a demo as early as possible. This webinar, usually delivered by a Subject Matter Expert, assumed they were starting at Square One. This doesn’t fit the way they want to buy from you now. They want to meet you armed with research and get their questions answered by someone (your sales person) who can help them buy.

Not surprisingly, companies are acting much like you and I do when we shop. CFOs and Purchasers (well, actually their underpaid and overworked assistants) are spending a lot of time cruising websites and shortening their list of prospective vendors. Only when they have a pretty good idea of the features they’re looking for- not to mention the approximate price and how you compare to the competition- will they  ask for a demo or to speak to a sales rep.

The implications of this are pretty profound:

  • Metrics matter Take a good look at your website’s analytics. When are people visiting your site? (if it’s a lot of after hours, you’re getting shopped out).What are they looking at? How long do they stay? How many take the next step to ask for contact with your reps?
  • Make sure you have something to measure If they’re not staying long, they aren’t finding what they are looking for, which is enough information to qualify you as a prospective vendor. The more information you provide (video demos, pre-recorded webinars, articles and industry research) the more they will look at you as an expert and a resource. This can only help.
  • You’d better know what your customers think they know Just because they’ve clicked the “schedule a demo” button doesn’t mean that’s what they need.  It’s critical that whoever they talk to next ask questions about what they have already read or seen (they don’t want to sit through redundant information) and where they are in the sales process (are you talking to the buyer who will need different information than someone doing the screening for them?). All of this means…
  • The people who demo need to be (or at least think and present like) sales people Many companies use “sales engineers” or Subject Matter Experts to do the demos to customers, which is fine (obviously you need someone who knows what they’re doing, and that isn’t always the sales person of record) but their job is not solely to demonstrate functions and features. They need to ask the questions that qualify the prospect, identify where they are in the sales process and move them through the sales cycle.  What are you doing to help prepare them for that role?

Does your website reflect this new buying reality? What are you doing to help customers move themselves as far along the sales cycle as possible, and what are you doing to help your SMEs and sales people bring them the rest of the way?


It is the ROC, too, not just the ROI, stupid!

by Wayne Turmel on October 19, 2009

communication toolsNow, admittedly, the title might have confused you a bit as just about 3 weeks ago, Himanshu posted an article titled It is the ROI, not the ROC, stupid! The simplest explanation for this seemingly contradictory titled post is… the ‘C’ in Himanshu’s post was Cost whereas in my post, the ‘C’ in the ‘ROC’ stands for Communication.

While talking to my father on the phone the other day, I had a breakthrough. Not the kind my therapist would like to see, alas, but one that answered a major business question: “Why do so many managers treat communication tools like they’re made of gold and not use them every day?”  It all comes down to how we measure the ROI (Return on Investment). Maybe we sometimes need to measure the ROC (Return on the Communication) instead.

I was trying to ask some pretty serious questions about his health and Dad kept trying to avoid the conversation and wrap it up. Finally, he said “Look, this is costing you money, so we should talk about this another time…”. Now you, I and just about everyone you know has an unlimited calling plan. Talk for two minutes or twenty, it doesn’t really matter- it’s just not a concern for most of us any more. But because all he could hear was the meter running, my dad didn’t want to get into a long drawn out conversation. Remember this is a guy who taught us to call person-to-person collect for ourselves so he’d know we got to our destination safely and we wouldn’t have to pay for a long distance telephone call from a payphone- he’s a bit frugal to say the least.

That kind of thinking affects managers and organizations as well, and has a direct impact on how they use communication tools with their remote teams. Here are some common examples:

  • “We pay per minute and per connection, so we’ll save webmeetings for when it’s really important” I have numerous clients who have invested in webmeeting platforms, and then refused to let people practice with them, or need to get budget approval to hold a meeting in order to keep costs down. Then they are surprised that people don’t utilize the tool or use it poorly. No one will ever practice or get proficient with a tool that they can’t use at will without the accountants watching. By the way, if you’re still paying per minute per connection it’s time to have a serious talk with your provider…they’re treating you like you’re my dad.
  • “We don’t waste time on chit-chat. Keep it business” In this age of Agile, virtual, matrixed and under-resourced projects – time is money.  The myth is that the less time you spend talking the more time and money you’ll save and people can get on with the “real” work. This is a perfect example of measuring something that doesn’t indicate real results. You can’t easily measure the amount of risk-management, proactivity and trouble-shooting that good, frequent and rich communication gets you. Of course, if you really want hard metrics, measure the amount of rework, lost productivity and project overruns from not staying in constant contact with your team. Take the time to find out what’s really going on with them and who else is sucking up their time.
  • “We didn’t cut the travel budget just to spend it on IT”. Okay, we all agree that the reason we need these tools is our travel budgets were slashed and they are NOT coming back anytime soon (at least not in the foreseeable future). That doesn’t mean we don’t need to communicate effectively and that there is no cost of doing business. Just because people work from home doesn’t mean (magically) it doesn’t cost anything to have them on the payroll. By the way, if you look up from the “telecommunications” line item in the budget you’ll see that you can pay for a lot of bandwidth, webmeetings and telephone calls just with the money you used to spend on drinks for the team when they could get together or put more subtelly … Psssst… “It’s really not that expensive.”

Effective questioning, timely feedback and sharing information have value to an organization and a team. We need to focus less on the dollars spent and more on the value created by those interactions. Sometimes we need to focus on the Return on Communication

No one wants to see your Demo

by Wayne Turmel on September 21, 2009

dreamstime_9754785I have bad news for anyone who does product demos over the web: No one wants to see them. Seriously. Once you realize that it will be much easier to sell your software.

To clarify: They might have signed up for a demo OR they might have clicked a box on your website asking you to please schedule them for one OR they might have even agreed to watch it to learn what you’ve got, but they probably “want” to see it like you “want” to go to the bank on a long-weekend Friday. The point is: Yes, it does serve an important function but it’s no one’s idea of fun.

Understanding what customers want in a demo is critical in changing the demos from time-consuming events that are a necessary part of the sales process to a step in a shortened sales cycle that helps customers get on with their lives and makes them glad they met you.

Here are some tips – I apologize for any hurt feelings:

  • Customers have only one question on their mind- “Can this thing solve my current business problem?. If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to a sale, if it’s no, don’t waste their (and your) valuable time. Ask plenty of questions before you start presenting, even if it means you never get to actually demo the product. And don’t take all day getting to the stuff they care about or you’ll lose them.
  • Buyers don’t care how cool your technology is This one is a little hard to take, especially since many of us doing demos built the products in question and are quite impressed with it ourselves. The genius of your algorithm or the glory of your GUI means nothing if it doesn’t help the customer in some way: either it helps  them generate more revenue, lower their cost or simply makes their job easier. Lots of us like to show off all the features because it’s “value added”. Since it’s not valuable unless the customer says it really is, in most of the cases it’s really “time added”, and not “value added”.
  • Don’t talk like a programmer Odds are that early in the sales cycle the person watching the demo is not as technically adept as you are. They are probably not even IT people – they’re in Finance, or Sales or even HR- whichever group is actually going to use it.  Use a “programmer-to-mortal” dictionary if you have to and use their language not yours.
  • They need to know you understand their issues Two things will help put them at ease.
    • Tell success stories that relate to their business. If they’re a small business, don’t just tell them IBM uses your product and loves it (they’ll think you’re too complicated and expensive). Conversely if you’re selling to a big enterprise, don’t just tell them about the little company that uses it (you won’t scale to their needs). Make your success stories relevant to their business.
    • Use their examples. If they are in HR, show them how to do the task they need done. Don’t use a sales example to the IT group. And if they call it a “screen” instead of an “interface”, you can too.

    No one signs up for a web demo with a Slurpee ,a  jumbo bag of popcorn and a comfy chair. They want their questions answered, their problem solved and their lives back. You probably have better things to do, too.  Stop treating demos as presentations and more like sales calls and you’ll go a long way in achieving the purpose of the demo!


    Wayne Turmel PicThis article is contributed by Wayne Turmel, the founder and president of GreatWebMeetings and the host of The Cranky Middle Manager Show podcast. You can follow him on twitter at @greatwebmeeting.

    Data Isn’t Information

    by Wayne Turmel on August 10, 2009

    Readers of this site are very tech savvy – in fact (without sounding too flattering) I’d suggest that we are among the most technically proficient workers in the world. I would also submit that many of us don’t use technology properly. I don’t mean our fingers don’t fly and we can’t multi-task-web-cam-Google-group like a rock star. What I mean is we send more data than information.

    Here are a few examples to clarify further: You check your email inbox or your project collaboration site. There’s the spreadsheet you wanted with the numbers you need to complete your task. That’s data. The problem is that the person who sent you those numbers didn’t tell you that they were put together at the last minute because they’d be in trouble if they were late, that they are only based on someone’s best guess or that the minute they hit “send” someone called with a last-minute correction. That’s context and it’s what turns data into information you can actually use.

    There is an old model that talks about the learning and communication hierarchy:

    dikw

    Data (the raw numbers or facts) turns into… Information (what it means) which, when we apply to our real life problems effectively, we turn into… Knowledge (how do we apply this contextual information to move the project/company/species forward and finally… Wisdom (how do we use this knowledge in the most far-reaching, strategic and positive way)

    In the lightning fast-paced work world, data is constantly flowing. We have all kinds of tools that allow us to get the numbers/project status/debugs anywhere in the world in seconds. The problem is not with the delivery of data, it’s how it’s processed and turned into action once it arrives.

    We need context in order to understand all the subtleties of what the data means and what to do with it. Context is established when we seek answers to questions like:

  1. Why is this data important?
  2. Where did it come from?
  3. What are you supposed to do with it?
  4. Who sent it and how much do you trust them?
  5. Who will use it and why should they trust you?
  6. In other words, the data and the tools that send it are useless without the human dynamic, which brings us back to technology. We have all the technology we need to send the data and create context, we just don’t use it as well as we might.
    Take for example. You are an Agile team that wants to hold your scrum and get back to “the important stuff”. You don’t waste time on social niceties and “fluff”. Effective web meetings are held to under 10 minutes, the way they should be. IMs are held to ten words or less and anything more social than a “Hi are you busy” is considered unimportant. But if you don’t have social conversation, or allow for time to get to know each other, do you really know what’s going on with your teammates? Do you know who’s having trouble, who’s really doing more than their share and who can really give you insight into the data you’ve just received?

    I hear so many times that web cams are a waste of good bandwidth; time zones mean it’s easier to just hit “send” and go to bed, knowing that the folks in Bucharest or Bangalore or Boston are professionals and will know what to do with it when it arrives; Group collaboration sites don’t need pictures of the teammates on whom your job depends and “Why does it matter what Mary or Karim look like as long as the work gets done?”

    It matters. The human component matters, and we ignore the tools – and more importantly the techniques – that let us build those human connections at our peril.

    I’d like to end with a thought provoking question: What are you doing for your team (and what help is your company giving you) to learn to send data as well as turn it into information?

    ——