This is a guest post by Murielle Marie
If you’ve been alive in the past few years, especially as a solopreneur making your way to online success, chances are that you’ve heard about webinars, and have either tried your hand at a few, most definitely watched other people’s, or who knows, maybe you’ve even done both. In the webinars you watched, there might have been one (or a few) about how to actually sell products using webinars.
I know I watched them.
Then I put my own presentation together and gave my first webinar. Filled with hope and wonder, and amazed at the people who showed up. But I didn’t sell. Then I watched those webinars about webinars again. And learned some more. Put that into practice in another webinar, and got a few more people to stick around until the end, but didn’t sell that time either.
So I went back to the drawing boards, and deconstructed those successful webinars again. Reviewed my webinar presentation once more, went at it again, and got a bit more peeps in the room for that one, too, but still didn’t sell.
Then, finally, after almost giving up, and experiencing everything from the technical glitches to making a huge mistake with time zones and letting a fully packed webinar room of more than 200 people wait for me for a couple of hours, I finally understood the mechanics that make webinars sell. So, I put to work all that I had finally learned in yet another webinar. And what do you know… on the spot, right there and then, my first sales came through the door!
So, this sleaze free guide to selling with webinars is all about those mechanics, and what makes people buy.
You might have heard of Amy Porterfield. If you haven’t, do check her out. That woman knows a lot about webinars! She’s the one who reassured me that practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to webinars. And although that sounded like a fluffy idea to me at first, I had to learn the truth of it kind of the hard way, going through my rookie webinar sessions until I figured out how to actually do this right.
Why webinars work
Now, before we dive into the mechanics of webinars that sell, let’s look at why webinars actually work. From my own 20 years of experience in business, I can honestly say that it’s never really been easy making sales when potential customers first come into contact with your offerings, services or products. Before any sale – for pretty much whatever it is you’re selling – your client needs to get into the right frame of mind. And that frame of mind is called trust. And trust is not something that happens in an instant; it’s something you have to build. And building trust means connecting with your client, and more importantly, having them connect with you. On a human, emotional, and even personal level.
The more they know about you, the more they’re able to trust you. And that, my dear, is why webinars work. Contrary to what most people think, webinars are not (only) about a particular problem you’re solving or information you’re providing. In my opinion, webinars are much more about you and your viewer, and the bond that you can create during your time together.
So, whatever webinar you’re thinking about putting together, or if you’re thinking back on the webinars you’ve already done, reflect on how you as a person were or could be present during your webinar, and how your audience was or might be able to connect with you. Without that bond, without that trust, there is no sale. Remember that people buy from people. With webinars, more than with anything else, this is an essential part of the puzzle.
What a webinar is and isn’t
Now that we’ve jumped right into the heart of the matter by acknowledging that a webinar is a way for you to create a bond with your potential customer, lets take a look at what a webinar is and isn’t, to make sure you craft your webinar in the most powerful way possible.
1. A webinar is not just a sales pitch
Even if the people watching your webinar are your peeps, and even if they know you already, a webinar should never be used solely as a way to pitch a product or service. Yes, there is a sales pitch at the end of a webinar, and yes your webinar is most probably meant to sell; however, a webinar is not a sales pitch alone. If you limit it to that, my bet is that you won’t sell, and that you’ll frustrate and maybe even hurt the relationship you might already have with your tribe.
2. A webinar is not the story of you
At the other end of this spectrum, we find the idea that the webinar is the story of you. Again, yes, as you will see below, it’s important to talk about yourself and to be open, and share at least parts of your personal story, but making the whole webinar about you (while it should be all about your audience) will result in the same frustration and breach of trust that I mentioned above.
3. A webinar is real value for your viewer
Yes, it is true that there is a balance to be found between giving away valuable information, and not sharing too much of your secret sauce with your viewers. However, this does not mean that your webinar should be nothing more than an excuse for your sales pitch. If you want that connection to happen between you and the viewer, you have to offer real value. This is why I believe that, during your time together, you should either solve at least one problem your audience has or really educate your viewer on an aspect of your topic of expertise. And show your audience that there is more where that came from!
4. A webinar is the perfect opportunity to make a sale
OK, so a webinar is not just a sales pitch, we’ve established that. But if there ever is a time for you to sell something, then a webinar is definitely it! Done well, and using the right structure, tone, and sequence – as I’ll demonstrate below – a webinar is a really powerful sales tool. And one that you should consider learning. So, let’s get you started on that, shall we?
What can you sell with a webinar?
According to Amy Porterfield, and other webinar experts, a well-put-together webinar can sell practically anything:
- digital products
- real products
- all types of services
- seminars, or any other type of events
- online or offline memberships
- private and group coaching
And you can make a lot of money selling this way, up into the millions of dollars.
Of course, depending on the type of product or services that you’re selling, the way you put together your offer will vary.
The easiest product to sell will be the one that is easiest for your audience to take action on. Your audience is most probably watching your webinar through a computer screen, mobile, or other tablet-like item. The interaction they’re having with you is immediate, and totally under their control. If you’re able to keep that going all the way through until after the sales pitch, your chances of making a sale will be the highest. Everything that breaks the flow, or reduces the instantaneity, will make it slightly harder for you to close. What this basically means is that whatever it is you’re selling, you need to make sure that your viewer can be totally in control of the buying process, and that the reward of buying from you is immediate, or at least feels like that.
An example of this is when you sell an eCourse or some other digital product. The potential buyer knows – and it’s your job to make sure that they do know, by the way – that the item will be delivered right after purchase. And that is the preferred level of immediacy for any sale, really. So it’s important to keep this in mind, especially when you’re selling physical products, or coaching, or anything else that will not be delivered immediately to your buying audience. But also when you’re in a pre-sale process, like when you’re selling a membership that isn’t starting yet.
If any of these scenarios are the case for you, I’ve found that sales increase when you put together your offer in such a way that there is at least a partial delivery of something immediately after the sale. In many instances, this something will be digital in nature. It could be a workbook to prepare for the coaching that will ensue, or a user guide for the physical product that has just been bought. It doesn’t need to be so closely related to the product that is sold, but it does need to have some sort of connection with it. If you sell coaching, for instance, it could simply be a book that you offer as a digital download when someone signs up, and that book doesn’t need to be by your hand.
There are really no limits to what you can offer, but the point is that it must be delivered immediately after purchase if the digital or physical goods themselves are not available that fast.
The second thing that is really good to keep in mind is that nothing beats selling with urgency. And webinars are a particularly good medium for creating urgency, either through scarcity or through limited-time offers.
There are a number of ways for urgency to be achieved, and here are a few ways in which webinars are particularly suited to create scarcity or urgency…
Have a special bonus, or unique offer that is only available for purchases made while you’re giving your webinar. If your audience wants the bonus, they have to buy now.
If you want more scarcity, make that bonus limited to a specific number of people. For the first five purchasers only, for instance. Or something similar.
As soon as the pitch starts – which will be at the end of your webinar, as I’ll explain below – have a counter running for a limited time. In my case, it’s usually 15 minutes. During that time, answer your viewers’ questions… while you regularly remind your potential buyers of the time-limited bonus.
Invite your buyers to let you know they’re on board. Social proof can induce more urgency. You’ll have your clock running, and on top of that, you’ll have clients coming on board. This will help those in your audience who are on the fence about signing up with you or buying your product to make their decision faster.
THE POWER OF THREE
And the third thing that I’ve found to be really beneficial when selling with webinars (and online, in general, by the way) is what is commonly known as the power of three. Don’t offer just one version of your product or service. Package it in at least two versions – if possible, three. A common example of this is having a regular, plus, and VIP package of what you’re selling. For each package, the benefits and what the customer will get will vary, as will the price, increasing from a basic version, to a more elaborate one, to a full-blown VIP experience in the highest tier.
This technique can be used for anything – not just for digital products or coaching. For instance, if you’re selling a workshop or seminar, you can easily add options to the more expensive tiers. These options could include food and drinks, additional learning material, a book bundle, email support after the event, a private meet & greet… pretty much anything you can think of, as long as it offers added value to your customer.
The idea behind the power of three is that people need to be helped a little to make a choice, and faced with three options, we tend to make one, and with that choice we will most likely go with at least the median option. So, what often happens in sales is that there is a preferred package that you want your customer to buy, and you’re going to work around that by creating one or two more packages, so that your preferred option becomes the most appealing one.
As a side note, there’s a great TED talk by Dan Gilbert (a Harvard psychologist) about the science of happiness – and I know that sounds like something completely outside of our discussion, but in this talk he addresses the way we make choices and how marketing experts use that knowledge to sell stuff to us. So if you’ve got about 21 minutes to spare, it’s definitely worth the watch.
How to put your webinar together?
I’m sure you’ve heard about sales funnels, and how important they are. Well, when it comes to putting webinars together, sales funnels make a whole lot of sense, and understanding how they work will really help you to put together effective webinars.
Before diving into the various parts of a webinar, let’s quickly take a look at what a sales funnel is made up of. According to Wikipedia, a sales funnel (also known as a purchasing funnel) is a customer focused marketing model which illustrates the theoretical customer journey towards the purchase of a product or service.
A complicated phrasing to say that there is a system to the way we buy, and that we’re all – always – at one stage or another of the sales funnel when it comes to products and services that we want or need to buy.
For the sake of this post, I’ll take the AIDA-model from the marketing world as a starting point. AIDA stands for: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. These are four stages of the sales process, described in 1898 by E. St. Elmo Lewis as a model which mapped a theoretical customer’s journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of their action or purchase.
In short, these are the stages a customer goes through from the moment a product or service is introduced to him or her, until the moment he or she buys that product or service.
In traditional marketing terms, and especially before the Internet and the rise of online business, the time it would take someone to travel through these four stages – also known as the sales cycle or buying cycle of a product or service – could be considerable. And when I’m saying considerable, I mean considerable. This could range over anything from a few days to a few weeks, months, or even longer. When considering a new car, for instance, one visit to a car dealer wouldn’t have cut it ten years ago. It would have taken approximately five visits before someone would be at the Action stage of the cycle. Today, it only takes 1.6 visits. That’s a sales cycle 3 times shorter – at least from the car dealer’s perspective.
From the buyer’s perspective, he still did his homework, but most of it went unnoticed by the car dealer, or else is totally out of the seller’s control because a big part of the sales funnel is done autonomously by the buyer, in the comfort of his or her own home.
Now, the point is, as I’m digressing here, that this is true for almost anything we buy. Even houses. The Internet brought us freedom of information, and with it the ability to go through at least part of the sales funnel in an entirely new way.
Webinars sell; we know this much, by now. And in a minute, I’ll show you what successful webinars are made of. But there is more. The beauty of webinars – and probably one of the reasons they’re so popular and work so well – is that they can sell, whatever the stage of the sales cycle a potential customer is in. That’s right. With a webinar, if delivered the right way, you can guide your audience through the various stages of the sales funnel in one go.
That’s the reason why you see a lot of messages online about how to sell with webinars, even if you don’t have a list.
Your list of email subscribers, is the funnel in which you have all your potential customers, all at various stages of the sales cycle. Nurturing that list then means making potential customers move through the sales cycle, until they are ready to buy. Again, this is a process that can normally take a long time, and one that you have to put a lot of time and effort into.
But with webinars, you can speed up that process because, during a webinar, you can drive someone who doesn’t know anything about you, through the various cycles of the sales process, all the way to the actual purchase. I’ve done it, and that’s why I’m confident you can do it, too.
This isn’t to say that everyone will buy during your webinar (not everyone’s your ideal client, and not all of your ideal clients will go through the entire cycle on the spot), but on average between 2% and 5% of your webinar attendees will buy. The more they are your ideal client, the better the numbers will be.
THE BUILDING BLOCKS YOU NEED
Now, what are the building blocks of a successful webinar? And how do they relate to the sales funnel stages?
For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume that you have a marketing campaign up and running – a Facebook Ads campaign, a Google Ads campaign, or any other type of campaign or strategy in place – that drives people to sign up for your webinar.
Again, I’m also going to assume that you have a pre-webinar email automation sequence up and running, and a post-webinar one (although this is not the topic of this post, you do want to get that sorted out if you don’t have it ready yet).
So, the building blocks.
Basically a webinar needs to have the following parts in order to be successful:
An introduction where you engage with your audience, give context to the webinar, and describe the problem the webinar is addressing.
For this step, it’s important to create a mirror effect, where you have your viewer agree with the problem you’re describing. You want a connection to happen, and the best way to accomplish this is for your audience to agree that they have the problem you’re discussing.
The way to manage this agreement is to offer potential scenarios to your audience, as well as ask them the question directly. Having your viewers reflect on their personal situation when faced with a problem that you’re presenting is the best way to get them to agree with you.
A successful webinar I did for The Boho Loft last year, my membership program, was called “Top 5 Year Planning Tips for a Successful 2016”. The webinar started off with me describing the problem I aimed to address by talking about the most common reasons people don’t achieve their goals, and then having the audience agree with me by asking the viewers to tell me through the webinar chat feature what their number #1 reason was for not achieving their goals in 2015.
At the end of this first part, you give a brief overview of what you’ll talk about further in the webinar, and when you’ll actually address the problem and offer your solution.
Your transformational story
After the introduction, and after laying out the problem for your audience, it’s time to tell them a little bit more about yourself. This transformational story about you will help your audience to connect with you, and to start seeing how the problem they’ve just identified as their own can be solved.
In order for this step to be successful, though, the transformation needs to be 100% on topic, and big enough. I’ve given webinars where I knew I had been through what my audience was going through, yet failed to make that really clear to them in one concise message. The result: confusion and no sales. In the webinar I mentioned above, I talked about what my life was like when I often felt overpowered by fear and unable to move past procrastination, on to when I really started working towards achieving my goals. That contrast is very powerful, and really helped my audience believe that I had been there myself.
It doesn’t hurt to add some pictures of yourself at this stage, preferably some before-and-after ones. They’ll help you to make that connection between the problem and the solution even more vivid to your viewer.
After the story of you, it’s important to reflect back to your audience. In the end, this webinar is not about you – it’s about them and what you can do to help them overcome their problem.
A good way to increase their awareness of the problem, and subsequently their interest in the solution you’re offering, is to talk about other successful stories. And the best way to do this is through testimonials. So don’t shy away from adding positive feedback from happy customers or clients, and add a picture of the person speaking if you can.
Put together well, this first step will naturally move your viewer from the Awareness stage into the Interest stage of the buying cycle.
This is the part where you’re offering your solution. This is the part where you show off your value and prove to your audience that you’re the expert, and that you know what you’re talking about. So don’t underestimate this part, and make it really interesting and useful for your audience.
But before you do, you want your audience to emotionally connect to the solution you’re going to give them. A good way to do this is to guide them through a short visualization of them overcoming the problem you’re addressing, and ask them to feel into what it will be like once they’re there.
In my case, I asked my viewers to imagine what it would feel like once they’d achieved their goals. This is an important step that I really recommend you include in your webinars.
After guiding your audience into feeling what solving their problem will be like, you actually offer them a solution and new insights about the problem. I cannot stress enough how important I think this step is, especially if you want to sell through your webinar in an ick free way.
For a very long time, I wasn’t all that confident when giving webinars, and it was showing in my numbers. I didn’t feel good asking for people’s trust and money, mostly because of the lack of connection I felt with them. By applying the steps of this post to my own webinars, and by really connecting with my audience, the ask became so much easier (more on that below).
So, don’t underestimate the power of offering real value to your audience. It’s the key to ick free webinars that sell. Not only will it make you feel good about the work you do, but it will create a strong connection between you and your audience, and it will allow you to move into the selling part with ease and confidence.
You’ve laid out the solution to your audience. You’ve kept on interacting with them, and asked them questions throughout. You’ve made sure to partially solve a problem for them, or educate them about it, and to get your viewers a little closer to where they want to be. If that’s the case, well done! You’ve moved your potential customers from the Interest stage into the Desire stage of the sales cycle.
It’s now time to pitch your offering – in an ick free way!
Through the many webinars that I’ve given, I’ve tried out several ways to move as smoothly as I can from providing a solution to giving a pitch. When I first started experimenting with webinars, it felt really weird to move so fast from helping people into asking something from them. The sales pitch really felt icky, and as I said above, because of this I wasn’t able to deliver my pitch well or with confidence. Two things that proved to be essential if I wanted to make sales!
I had seen many webinars before I started my own, and I had always been walked straight into the sales pitch, without warning. Every time, it took me a while to realize that I was not listening to someone teaching me something anymore, but that the person talking was now trying to sell me something. I’ve tried this myself, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it works, but it’s not my preferred way of doing things. What I like is to tell my viewers very briefly that we’ve come to the end of the master class part of the webinar, and that they’re free to go, but that I’d love to talk to them about something that can help them even more than what we’ve just covered.
I’ve found that there is no significant difference in the amount of people who stick around or who leave the webinar at this stage. You’re always going to have drop-offs at this point. But what I’ve found is that I feel so much more at ease when people actually know I’m pitching them. But fair is fair, both systems work, so here are their dynamics:
1. Moving straight from solution to pitch
If you’re not going to tell your audience you’re moving into your pitch (which is perfectly fine), you want to make sure that you have a relevant angle to glue everything together. An angle that I have found to work really well is a loop back to the beginning of the webinar, where you introduced the problem.
If at the beginning you’ve asked your audience a question, like I did with my webinar about goal setting, you can loop back and remind them about the problem again.
I can say something like: I’m not sure why you joined me for this webinar, but my guess is that you’ve struggled with problem X or Y.
Then, you continue by acknowledging the fact that your viewer hasn’t solved that problem up till now. You say something like: And you’re tired of having to wait for X or Y to happen.
As a third and final step in this sequence, you introduce your product or service by acknowledging the fact that your viewer wants a solution to the problem (obviously, since they’re watching your webinar): And NOW is the time to finally achieve X or Y.
Noticed the NOW in the last sentence? That’s an important one. What you need to do at this stage is to make your audience move from Desire to Action while pitching them your product or service at the same time.
2. Telling your viewers about your pitch
There’s not a lot of difference between this approach and the previous one. The only thing that I do when I go into the pitch is to tell people I’m done with teaching them, and I’m now going to tell them about a more elaborate solution to their problem. For my goal setting webinar, it goes something like this:
OK, this concludes the 5 tips that I wanted to share with you today. If you’ve got to go, now is a good time. I want to thank you for being here with me today, and I hope to hear from you and your goals soon. But if you want to learn a bit more about what we can do together to work on your goals, then I’d love to tell you a little more about a program that I think will be perfect for you.
After this introduction, I move into the sales pitch with the same structure as point 1. But I do it with more confidence, and ease, now that I’ve told the audience what’s coming next.
So, you’re pitching your audience, and you’re doing so by keeping the rule of three in mind, offering them something special, and adding some scarcity and urgency to what it is you have on display.
What is really important for this step is to detail as much as you can what it is that you’re offering. Don’t shy away from highlighting everything that is of value, and which can help your audience to overcome their problem.
In my case, when I talk about the membership site and its benefits, I highlight everything that’s in there:
- 6 prep modules to get clear on what you want and how to get it
- New modules added monthly
- Monthly group coaching calls
- Weekly inspiration emails straight to your inbox
- Quarterly Biz Sprint Sessions
- Private Facebook Group
- Quarterly FB Q&A sessions
- Free access to 2 live events
- Free access to 4 online events
And so much more…
The point is that your potential customer has gone through three of the four sales stages already, and what you want to do now is to help them make the decision that your product or service will be of real value to them. So don’t shy away from being clear about it, and whatever you’re selling, spend enough slides talking about the benefits! This is your time to be proud of what you do.
Finally, after you’ve delivered your sales pitch, have your timer start (see above) and answer your audience’s questions or give them a bit more information about how payments work, when they can expect their product or service, etc.… Add any type of information here that can take away objections.
You can juggle with these steps a little, of course, and give it your own secret sauce, but the important things to remember are the stages your viewer needs to go through in order for you to make a sale.
Don’t be afraid to pitch, remember that you’re here to serve your customer, and be proud of the solution that you’re offering. In my opinion, that’s the secret to selling well.
We’re almost at the end of this post, but before I let you go create your own amazing webinar, here are a few more things that you should sprinkle over your webinar to increase your sales:
Engagement and interaction: make sure to ask your audience questions throughout your webinar, and to interact with them. I love to welcome people to my webinars, say their names, and greet them. Whoever talks to me, I’ll reply, always. Throughout the webinar, I’ll ask questions and refer back to my viewers’ answers. Not only does this build a connection with my audience, but I feel better, the more I know them, too.
Don’t be afraid of repetition: it’s OK to repeat your key concepts during your webinar. Make sure to address just one problem, and repeat your solution. People who are unaware of something need repetitions from various angles to really get what you’re talking about.
Use enough slides: I like to work through around 80 slides for a webinar. The reason for this is that keeping the same slide up for too long will help distract your audience. The more movement there is on the screen, the more focused your audience will be.
Introduce a bonus at the beginning of your webinar: prepare something special for the webinar, and tell people about it at the beginning. Then, throughout, remind them a few times that that bonus is coming at the end of the webinar. Once at the end, use that bonus during your pitch to create urgency – it’s only available when your product is purchased during your webinar.
We’ve come to the end of this quick and dirty guide to selling with webinars. I hope you enjoyed learning about what I’ve found to be a successful way to create and deliver webinars that sell.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions – I’d love to help.