10 Tips for Making the Most of Joint Customer Webinars
When it comes to webinars, who better to deliver your message than one of your customers? They have instant credibility, and when joint webinars are done well some of that credibility will transfer over to you.
Here are 10 tips I’ve learned over time for preparing for and making the most of a joint webinar with a customer.
1. Don’t wing it
You and your customer need to talk about and agree to a level of effort and a schedule. That schedule needs to include days and times when you two will work on and review materials like slide decks, videos, and demos. It also should include time to rehearse.
Yes, rehearse, and that includes a final “dress rehearsal” a day or two before the webinar. Don’t think it’s all that necessary?
Ask anyone who has done live theater.
Your webinar is a live performance. You get one chance, and your customer should be just as committed to not “bombing” as you are.
BTW, this one is first on the list because it’s a great way to qualify – call it “audition” – your customer, too. If they are reluctant and feel everything will be fine if you two just talk a day or two before the event, you may want to ask yourself if they’re the best choice to star in your show.
2. Start on time
I’m sure this has happened to you. You’ve connected on time for a webinar. The host comes on and says, “Well, it’s 9 o’clock, but I see some people are still coming in, so let’s give everyone another couple of minutes.”
Who’s hearing this? Only you and the other people who were on time.
By starting on time, you’re telling everyone who is there that you value and respect their time. You’re telling them that you appreciate their punctuality. Most of all, you’re actually telling them that if they choose to do business with you, you’ll live up to your commitments, starting today and starting with being on time for meetings.
There’s also no need to say things like, “Well, it’s 9 o’clock. Guess we can get started while late-comers trickle in.”
Stop acknowledging and accommodating the people who aren’t there, and turn your attention to the ones who are with an enthusiastic – and punctual! – opening. Tip #4 covers this.
As for you and your customer, my advice is to minimize your own stress levels and connect to the webinar platform well in advance. How long before the start? The answer to that comes down to how well prepared and well rehearsed you’re feeling.
3. Drop the housekeeping
Seriously. It’s 2019.
Everyone knows how webinars work, and unless there’s something really, really different about yours, the people attending already know how to chat, respond to survey questions, and whatever else they might need to know about watching and listening and asking questions.
4. Introduce the star of the show (Hint: It’s not you)
In my view, if you spend more than 30 seconds introducing yourself, you’re doing it wrong. This webinar isn’t about you.
The people attending your webinar are there to see and to listen to what your customer has to say.
My recommendation is that you start the webinar on time and with something like this…..
“Hello, and thanks for attending today’s webinar, ‘How Our Customer Solved This Really Big Problem That They Had and That All of You Also Have or You Wouldn’t Be Here.’
“I’m Jane Doe, VP of Making Customers Happy with Company Name, and today’s it’s my great pleasure to be talking with First and Last Name, Job Title, and Company.”
Then launch right into the introduction of your customer.
Be absolutely certain you can pronounce their name effortlessly and flawlessly. Screw this up, and they might forgive you, but they aren’t likely to ever forget that you messed up their name. In public. On a recorded webinar.
If you really want to impress your customer and the attendees, memorize your customer’s bio so that you can deliver it confidently and with a smile while looking straight into the camera.
5. Agenda slide? Meh. Company overview slide? Bigger Meh.
I’m not a fan of an agenda slide or a company overview slide.
I think it’s fair to assume that everyone who signed up to attend your webinar probably did so with enough information about the event, about you, and about your customer, or they wouldn’t be there.
To start off telling them what the next 6 slides are about, when you were founded, and how many people work at your company, in my opinion, just takes up valuable time and space that doesn’t add any real value to the content you and your customer will deliver.
You can transition from introducing your customer to getting into the heart of the material with a quick comment about what’s going to happen, but you don’t need a slide.
As for your company overview, I recommend pushing that to the end as part of your 60-second commercial (Tip #10). The audience is attending to hear from your customer. Let them. By telling their story, your customer will be telling yours in a way that’s meaningful, credible, and compelling to the audience.
6. Let the customer do the talking
Of course, you say, but how?
Turn your webinar into an interview. You are, after all, talking with an expert!
It will be a lot more fun, interesting, and informative if you’re asking great questions and the customer is answering them confidently and sincerely, versus the two of you going back and forth talking about bullet points you both may even sort of be reading from slides.
Put together a FAQ, and approach it with something like, “I put together the questions I’d like to ask you in the interview part of the webinar. I’ve also sketched out some thoughts on a response to each. It’s all your call, of course, but I wanted to give us somewhere to start.”
Armed with this, you and your customer will be having a conversation in which you both know what to expect. They will be answering the kinds of questions people came to hear….. and that you want to answer.
What were the exact problems your customer had, or what goals were they trying to achieve?
When and how did they come to realize they had problems or unmet goals?
Why was it important to solve those problems / achieve those goals?
What did their evaluation and buying processes look like?
Who was involved from their side?
How long did the decision take, and why?
Why did they choose you?
For you webinar hosts who are also sales people, my strong advice is to resist the temptation to switch into salesperson mode. The attendees don’t want you excitedly answering your own questions. Yes, it’s ok to add context and to reinforce the value your customer is describing, but don’t takeover and don’t turn into a talking brochure. Let your customer do the talking for you.
7. Doing a demo? You drive while the customer describes.
First, if you’re going to demonstrate your solution, make it a demo of your solution in action and how it’s being used by the customer on the webinar. Don’t talk about any other customers. Keep the spotlight on the star of this show, and that’s THIS customer.
Second and when it comes to the demo itself, I think it’s best that you be the one to drive while your customer tells their story. To do this, approach it like a role-play in rehearsal. You take on the role of the “user” of your solution inside their organization while your customer narrates what it is you’re doing and why.
About the only way I’d be ok having the customer drive the demo would be if they insist and they can do it better than you can.
S.O.A.R. story board
Putting together a great demo isn’t as hard as you might think. Take the “story board” approach, and frame out a story thinking S.O.A.R. – Situation, Obstacle, Action, Results. Once again, you draft it out and share it with your customer. Offer up a description of each along with the steps you want to showcase in the demo for each of those “scenes.”
And, did I mention rehearsing? Rehearse it so that you both are comfortable. There’s simply no question that the more you can rehearse, the better the performance will be.
8. Minimize distractions
Have a producer
Do whatever you can to have someone else “produce” the webinar; i.e., run the technical webinar and monitor the chat. Your focus needs to be on being a great interviewer.
Have your producer monitoring and acknowledging back to each chat sender anything that comes in. Have them directly answer the easy and simple questions, and have them let the questioner know that if it’s a bigger question, it will be added to the queue for the Q&A portion at the end.
This minimizes your distractions. Now what about your audience?
Be mindful of your surroundings and your actions
It’s obvious to state that it’s best to run the webinar from a quiet space with little to no distractions. Here are a few pointers.
Planning to sit in front of a mural-sized rendering of your logo, an exposed brick wall, a “tame” painting, a bookshelf, or even just a blank conference room wall? They’re fine. Proud of that 500 gallon aquarium, or the view out your window? I’m happy for you, but sit in front of either of those and I guarantee people will pay attention to them, too. My advice is to keep your backdrop static and even a bit uninteresting as the best way to keep the attention on you.
Be cognizant of your actions, too, and coach your customer in rehearsals to do the same.
It’s a good idea to keep a cup of water or a favorite drink nearby, but my advice is to keep it in a logo mug or a nondescript and opaque mug. Absolutely avoid noisy disposable plastic bottles, and I recommend against drinking through a straw or from one of those nipple-tipped water bottles. It’s just not a good look, and if you have a reasonably decent enough mic – and trust me on this – it’ll pick up the slurping sounds.
I get it. This advice may seem stuffy, old school, and not all that important, but here’s why I’m offering it. You don’t want your audience watching your fish, looking out your window, or listening to you drink.
I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t be your authentic self. What I am saying is to do what you can to keep the viewer’s attention focused on you and your customer, not your actions or your surroundings.
This goes for your customer, too.
You need to talk with your customer about this, too. Ask them to show you where they’ll be on the webinar so that you can see and hear their environment and make any necessary suggestions in advance. Again, I get that norms change, but I still think it’s best to avoid surprises like their dog(s) “expressing their enthusiasm” for whatever is taking place off camera, or that the view from their camera is only from the nose up.
9. Handling the Q&A with a FAQ and personalization
If you decide you’re going to open attendee microphones to ask questions, I greatly admire your courage. In my view, the risk-reward equation is tilted dramatically toward risk, and it takes a level of preparation that goes far beyond anything I’ve suggested in terms of FAQs and demo story boards and rehearsals to tilt open mics back toward rewards. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying you should take your game up several notches from anything I’ve suggested here.
That said, what if the only questions that have been asked in the chat are ones you don’t really want to answer? Even worse, what if you don’t get many or any questions at all?
It’s never a good look to end a webinar early because there are no questions or they’ve all been answered with a big chunk of time remaining. Where you really want to end up is with a promise to, “…. follow up with everyone via email with all the questions that were asked, as well as the ones we couldn’t get to today.”
How can you be sure that’s what happens?
My advice is the same as for pretty much everything else; prepare for it in advance.
The Q&A FAQ
To do that, you and your customer should agree to and rehearse a set of questions in advance that you anticipate some version of in the chat and which can be used in case too few or no questions get asked.
Like with the interview questions, you create and share with your customer a “first draft FAQ for the Q&A” along with the answers. Assuming it’s true (because it should be), you explain that these are the kinds of questions they (presumably) had when they were still a prospect, and that they are the kinds of questions you still hear most often from prospective customers like them.
You and your customer also need to agree on the answers, of course, as well as who will take the lead when answering each question in turn. My advice is to have your customer actually answer as many as possible. After all, your audience is coming to hear from them, and so long as you both agree on the answers there shouldn’t be any surprises or awkward silences.
Have your producer screen and read chat questions
If you do decide to take questions from the webinar chat, don’t do it unfiltered if it can be avoided. Instead, have your producer review them first so that when you get to the Q&A you have the producer join the call and read the questions – or some version of them – to you and your customer. It’s a lot smoother way to handle them, avoids you being blind-sided by a gotcha question that the producer can simply ignore, and it keeps you from having to push your face up against your monitor to read the text of the chat and process what it’s asking in the moment.
Personalizing the conversation
The Q&A is a golden opportunity to personalize the webinar experience, too.
You or your producer can do that simply by prefacing a question by saying something like, “Our next question comes from Joe.”
You don’t have to do much more than say someone’s first name to make them feel special while preserving a degree of comfortable anonymity. My advice is no last names and no company names just to be safe.
10. Finish strong!
You and your customer should spend time talking about how this performance ends. It doesn’t have to be with a bang and a standing ovation, but it shouldn’t just drift into a “I-guess-that’s-it-thanks-for-coming” sort of ending, either.
You presumably want people to be excited and energized by what they’ve seen, and now you want them to be willing to do something with that excitement and energy.
Let your customer tell them what they should do.
Draft a “Closing Testimonial” for the customer that concludes with their recommendation to the attendees to do whatever it is that you would like attendees to do; i.e., call you, download a whitepaper, subscribe to your YouTube channel, whatever.
Position this closing testimonial with the customer as you would a draft of a press release. Write it out. Present it to your customer. Suggest that all they really need to do is perhaps tweak it a little to make it a message they are totally comfortable delivering at the close of the webinar. Hey, you might also get a two-for-one out of this and have a press release basically ready to go afterwards, too.
Once your customer has delivered their closing remarks and their recommendation on the call to action, this is when you finally get to have the spotlight.
Your time to shine
My advice is to wrap up by first thanking your guest and complimenting them sincerely.
You then get to give your absolute best 60-second elevator pitch. Any longer, and you risk people realizing they’re listening to your commercial and deciding to leave the webinar before you tell them where to find your whitepapers, how to take advantage of the special offer only for attendees, etc.
That’s it. One more sincere thank you to your guest, to all the attendees, and well-wishes for a pleasant day, and you’re out.
If you plan on debriefing with your customer, agree in advance that you’re both going to drop off the webinar when it’s over and reconnect separately. I offer this last bit of advice solely because there have been times when I’ve stayed connected to a webinar while doing other things and looked up to see that I was inadvertently eavesdropping on a post-production conversation. Yikes!
Ok, now that’s it. I hope this will be helpful as you plan your next live performance starring one of your customers!
Do you have more tips to add to the list? Please share them in the comment section, and let’s keep the conversation going.