Beyond Consumption: Engaging Prospects with Content and Conversations

 In B2B Engagement Marketing, Uncategorized, Webinars

Recently I encountered an article on the SiriusDecisions blog that had to do with the popular yet elusive concept of engagement. “I’ve got a gripe with the term ‘engagement,’” writes Jason Hekl in the opening paragraph. Hekl then goes on to explain that the term is often used misleadingly to describe what is really passive content consumption like reading a white paper or watching a video, and not the two-way communication one would expect from a truly engaged interaction.

Hekl’s thesis is that marketers who see content development and marketing automation as a self-sufficient one-two punch strategy are succeeding in getting people to attend, watch and read but are missing a tremendous opportunity to translate those actions into meaningful dialogues with prospects.

I asked the BrightTALK demand generation and product sales teams about their conversations with prospects that have consumed content on the site. What would they say is the engagement potential of webinars and videos? Are phone conversations important and are they cold, warm or hot? Here are some of the questions I asked and answers I received:

Would you say webinars create an engaging experience and help brands connect with prospective buyers?

“Webinars help B2B brands shape the thinking of their target market. It is important for marketing to engage viewers with high quality content – if you want to build awareness and influence your market, you need to be heard and either inform, inspire or persuade. From a sales perspective, webinar attendance shows buyer intent. What webinar topics are your buyers registering for and watching? How long did they view and did they ask any questions or contribute to a vote? These indicators can help sales understand the challenges a buyer is trying to solve.”

– David Pitta, Demand Generation Director

“Webinars jumpstart qualification. Attendees might just be content consumers, but they can choose to engage, which is fantastic – that’s a buyer raising his or her hand and that’s when I pick up the phone.”

– Jon Brink, Sales Executive

How often do you follow up with webinar leads over the phone? Is that a natural part of the sales process?

“I always try to follow up with leads on the phone at least once. A phone conversation is an effective way to build a business relationship with the customer.”

– Amelia Kalnoki, Sales Executive

“I use the phone to follow up with every lead I get. On the phone, you can have a much more authentic conversation that helps strengthen or build a relationship with a potential client. It is important to understand that effective communication comes from listening – I can interpret a buyer’s tone correctly, I can respond to far more than the words spoken.”

– Katie Ure, Sales Executive

“There is nothing more natural and efficient to sales than the art of the phone conversation – I can ask and answer all the questions I need within a much smaller time frame, all the while creating a personal bond with the prospect. It’s far easier to convey my desire to help my prospects accomplish their goals when they can hear my voice.”

– Liam McLaughlin, Sales Development Representative

How can sales teams maximize their success with webinar leads?  

“A back-and-forth is key to engagement. Webinars accomplish this better than other tools in the marketing arsenal so I always give preferential treatment to those leads. When a webinar lead comes through, I can see statistics that go beyond consumption. They might have asked questions helping me identify their BANT qualification (budget, authority, need, timeline); they might have left feedback, participated in polls, or downloaded attached supporting material meant to help me qualify them.”

– Jon Brink, Sales Executive

“In a phone follow-up with a webinar lead, it’s best to simply let them know you are aware of their recent viewing and open up the conversation on their intent: “Are you educating yourself on this subject or do you have a pressing need to solve a XYZ challenge?” This will often open the conversation and allow sales to educate and engage with the prospective buyers.”

– David Pitta, Demand Generation Director

“The success of a webinar program is based on the dual effort of sales and marketing. Marketers must ensure that they are delivering interesting and engaging content while encouraging the audience to interact with attachments, votes, surveys, questions and answers. On the other hand, sales must ensure that they are prioritizing their leads and doing proper follow up. If the marketing team has succeeded in convincing a prospect to engage with content for 20-40 minutes, it is imperative for sales to find out what led this prospect to engage.”

– Liam McLaughlin, Sales Development Representative

Today’s buyers are willing and able to self-educate online before they contact a brand. To be heard and trusted, however, brands need to create and effectively distribute content that not only establishes them as experts in their industry, but also prompts prospective buyers to go beyond content consumption and interact with the content or the company producing it. That makes for warm and intelligent sales conversations – the authentic back-and-forth between two parties that Jason Hekl talks about. I think he would agree that listening to and learning about prospects throughout the sales cycle ultimately creates a much more efficient process with lots of potential.

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