Web Meetings Score Dramatic Sales

By Heather Baldwin

After watching the growing popularity of using Web seminars to reach out to potential customers, a company in Oregon decided to try it – and walked away with more than 130 customers or qualified prospects within months of their online meeting series. The data this company provided to Obidicut (www.obidicut.net), the Portland, Oregon-based marketing and communications firm that managed the series of Web conferences, demonstrates just how effective Web seminars can be.

The company that hosted the seminars provides reporting systems that help corporations comply with legislation and strengthen corporate compliance programs, also known as whistler-blower systems. There has been a surge in demand for these systems since the corporate scandals at Enron and other organizations.

The company ran three seminars, all entitled, “How to Avoid Becoming the Next Enron,” though each one targeted a different audience – HR, legal and accounting. The speaker was an ex-Enron executive who had tried to raise the flag about what was happening at the company and then quit when no one would listen. During the hour-long presentations, the first 20 minutes were dedicated to an explanation of what happened at Enron; the second 20 minutes outlined eight steps companies should take to avoid the pitfalls into which Enron fell; 5 minutes were about the host company and why its reporting system is a good solution; and the remaining 15 minutes were dedicated to Q&A.

In total, the series attracted 278 registrants, of which 197, or 71%, attended one of the events. Most of the attendees were executive decision makers and purchasers, many with titles such as CEO, CFO, senior vice president, vice president and director. Within months of attending, 39 attendees (20%) have become customers of the host company; 33 (17%) have been identified as qualified prospects and are in various stages in the sales process; and 59 attendees (33%) have been targeted for a future sales initiative. Already the value of the business closed is five times the cost of the Web seminars.

David Smith, co-founder of Obidicut, says several factors contributed to the company’s success. First, the company knew who it was trying to reach and what they cared about so the presentation could be targeted accordingly. Second, the company came up with a compelling topic and a great speaker that focused on educating attendees, not giving a sales pitch. Third, it ensured that every contact with potential attendees reminded them of what was valuable about the event. Finally, the company was diligent in its follow-up. Through Obidicut the company sent out several emails and did a call-down ahead of the meeting to remind registrants to attend. Within two days after the event, everyone who attended received a follow-up email. Those who registered but didn’t attend got a note explaining how to access the archive. “These tactics, along with a number of other best practices, are what make Web seminars successful for generating leads and stimulating sales activity,” says Smith.