Lead Generation: Phone calls turn first-time webinar into million-dollar leads
What’s a marketer to do when leadership dismisses marketing and insists that a superior product will sell itself?
Follow the lead of Jeremy Scully and take a high-stakes gamble: Put your reputation on the line to prove marketing’s value.
Scully, the Business Development Manager for Planisware, a leading provider of project and portfolio management solutions, told his top brass that the best way to use leftover credit with a leading analyst was to feature her in a webinar.
Leadership was reticent. The competition had been hosting webinars for years with hundreds of attendees. If Planisware didn’t attract a large enough audience, then the company’s leaders could look bad and that could hurt their positions as thought leaders.
So Scully struck a deal: He promised to attract 200 registrants from the heart of the company’s target market. They had to be:
- CTOs, VPs or directors in portfolio management or research and development
- In industries like automotive, chemical manufacturing or medical devices
- From a list of 450 organizations with more than $500 million in revenue and $100 million in R&D budgets
The risk? Scully had never promoted or planned a webinar before.
Get prospects on the phone
To capture attendees from this narrow list, Scully used what he knew best: cold calling. Planisware planned an hour-long event, “Best Practices for Portfolio Management,” and Scully’s team spent six weeks phoning potential attendees.
If callers didn’t immediately reach a prospect, they left a voicemail and followed that up with an email. If they did not hear from the prospect after a week, they called again and sent another email.
Once a prospect was reached, Scully’s team members took the following actions:
- Asked about the prospect’s current project portfolio management solution.
- Asked about current project portfolio management challenges and, when appropriate, sent a follow-up email with information that could help solve those issues.
- Clarified contact information. (They not only attained webinar registrants, but they cleaned the company’s lists, too.)
- Went to the webinar platform page and registered prospects immediately if they expressed interest. The platform instantly forwarded an appointment that automatically linked to the prospect’s Outlook calendar.
This effort produced about 87% of the 300-plus registrations for the webinar. More than 60% were directors or VPs of R&D. The rest responded to announcements on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and were partners, existing customers or consultants.
Phone calls and automated emails
The webinar platform automatically sent email reminders to the registrants two weeks and immediately before the event. The team also made personal phone calls the day before the event to the top 50 prospects — those who used programs like Microsoft Office as their project portfolio management software.
As soon as the webinar was over, a standard email thanking attendees was automatically sent, and Scully commenced his lead-generation efforts. He prioritized follow-up on the basis of the prospects’ present solutions and their interest in Planisware.
The gamble pays off
There are several deals from this effort moving through Planisware’s sales cycle – which can be two years or longer – and these deals could be worth millions, Scully says. Closing one of them would bring a 600% to 1,500% return on investment.
These results were more than enough to shift leadership’s perspective on the value of marketing. It’s no wonder they approved three more webinars for this year.
Here are Scully’s top tips for a great webinar:
- Select a speaker who will attract attention. Planisware chooses speakers with high name recognition in their marketplace.“Attendees think, ‘Oh wow, she really knows what she talking about, I won’t want to miss that,’” says Scully. “And it enhances our image as thought leaders.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. When Scully was torn between outsourcing teleprospecting or hiring someone to do it internally, he turned to the B2B Lead Roundtable group on LinkedIn.“Of course, I got some responses from vendors, but most were from people who were eager to help. It gave me the insight I needed to make the right decision,” he says.
- Act fast, don’t procrastinate. The moment he received permission to move forward, Scully hit the ground running. The messaging, landing page and contact list were developed within two weeks.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” he says. “Something will inevitably pop up that you’re not planning for. By taking care of what you can early on, you earn enough mental capacity and time to address the unexpected.”
- Register attendees immediately while they’re still on the phone. “If you wait and send them an email with a link, it could get lost in their inbox. The urgency will be gone and they’ll forget about it,” says Scully.Another benefit: You immediately collect pertinent information and gain opt-in for future contact.
Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch, Inc. part of the MECLABS Group that owns MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa and author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill 2006) and the B2B Lead Generation Blog with expertise related to B2B marketing, lead generation and complex sales.
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