How to build B2B webinars that drive SQLs (and why sales and marketing alignment is key)

Last Updated
January 2022
Ashley Decker
CEO and Cofounder
Molly Tolley
Marketing Manager
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Webinars are having a moment.

  • In 2020, people consumed three times more webinar content than they did the year prior, according to ON24.
  • 91% of marketers considered their webinars a success in 2020. That’s up 10% from 2019, making webinars the most effective video marketing channel, according to marketers surveyed by Wyzowl.

Credit the drought of in-person events. Or increasing comfort with virtual interactions. Or maybe savvy B2B marketers have just cracked the code to make sitting through a presentation feel like an outstanding way to spend a lunch break.

However you slice it, webinars work in 2021.

Why aren’t my webinars performing?

That all sounds great. But what can you do if your webinars aren’t performing as planned? There’s a lot to that. It could be a lack of proper promotion. It could be that your marketing team needs to take a more human-centered content approach that will resonate better in the current environment. But those items are mostly in the marketing team’s hands.

On the sales side of the house, what can you do to help deliver webinars that perform? Ensure the organization isn’t missing one crucial component: sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and marketing alignment equals better webinars

Sales and marketing alignment (or “smarketing,” if you live dangerously) can result in some real ROI. An aligned sales and marketing team can see:

The coordination and alignment between the sales and marketing teams is essential to whipping up webinars that drive SQLs (sales-qualified leads) and convert SALs (​​sales-accepted leads).

How to build B2B webinars the drive SQLs and convert SALs

In this post, we’re going beyond brand awareness and other top-of-the-funnel activities and straight for the bottom-of-the-funnel (or purchasing stage) webinars—the kind of content that’s basically jet fuel for your sales-marketing machinery.

Here are six actionable tips on how to build better B2B webinars through sales and marketing alignment.

1. Start making sales and marketing talk

Sales and marketing misalignment costs businesses around $1 trillion annually in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts, according to G2.

If your sales and marketing teams are siloed with an old-school approach, it’s time to have a conversation or two. And leading up to your next webinar is the perfect place to start.

Some of these chats can be a little contentious if your sales and marketing teams are more divided and prone to finger-pointing than hand-holding. But these talks will help build the momentum that proves the revenue-rocking power of a well-aligned, cross-functional sales-marketing team.

2. Create and agree on the definition of an SQL

Need an ice-breaker for that first sales-marketing conversation? Start with getting sales and marketing to create and agree upon a definition of a sales-qualified lead (SQL).

Because if the goal of the webinar is to create SQLs, you first have to establish how to identify SQLs if you’re going to have any hope of hitting your goals.

Sounds simple. But only 44% of companies have formal agreement between sales and marketing around the definition of a qualified lead.

The sales team needs to be clear with marketing on what info they need to accept for a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to become a sales-accepted lead (SAL).

If your company is using marketing automation, you can define actions or information uncovered about a lead that will increase the lead’s score. Then, you can automatically upgrade the lead to an SQL once that score is achieved.

3. Be clear on why you’re hosting the webinar

The next chat marketing and sales need to have as part of the webinar pregame process is gaining clarity of why you’re hosting the webinar. This will inform not only the content of the webinar but how it’s promoted.

You can break this down further into two questions:

  • What goal does the webinar achieve for you?
    Be specific here. Is it to move prospects from consideration to intent? Ensure that everything from the sign-up to the topics covered in the webinar work toward checking that box.
  • What goal does the webinar achieve for your prospect?
    Make sure your webinar offers real value to a prospect. It’s a basic rule of B2B content that gets it right, and the quality of the content is key for building an audience and driving engagement. The webinar content should address a buyer question in the phase of the funnel you’re trying to move them to.

4. Outline both teams’ needs before the campaign launches

Finally, before the campaign launches, you should outline the needs of both sales and marketing.

Create a detailed campaign plan that outlines all assets that need to be made before launching a campaign. This includes everything from the webinar signup page down to the product sheet that sales will need when a prospect converts to a SAL.

Now it’s time to . . .

5. Get both teams involved with promoting the webinar

When it’s time to spread the word about your high-value, SQL-driving webinar, sales and marketing each have roles to play.

  • For sales, promoting the webinar is about working those networks for attendees. Send personal notes, link to the sign-up page on your LinkedIn, and share or otherwise promote marketing posts on other social media your audience engages with.
  • Meanwhile, marketing should devise a webinar promotion campaign with a goal of getting as many qualified prospects to attend as possible. This could include high-converting LinkedIn ads, email, and social pushes. Whatever the approach they take, the goal should be to fill that sales funnel.
  • Marketing should also clearly communicate to the sales team about webinar promotion campaign plans. Your salespeople should know when marketing emails will be hitting their prospects, who your marketing emails will be coming from, and the content of the message. With that knowledge, sales can work personal notes around the automated messaging from marketing.

Hot Tip: Consider a spiff to encourage playful competition between individual contributors on the sales team to drive sign-ups. For this, get marketing to create customized UTM links to track where signups are coming from (and make sure your form is using hidden fields to capture UTM info). Sales can then report who’s in the lead each week leading up to the webinar, and announce and reward the winner after the big day.

6. Plan for effective post-webinar follow-up

After the webinar—which marketing will hopefully pull off without a hitch—your work is still not done. Because, like golf or tennis (or basically any activity where you hit a ball), the follow-through is as important as what came before it.

The ultimate, bigger-picture goal should be to have marketing and sales aligned as a cross-functional team, but both marketing and sales each have unique responsibilities in your post-webinar follow-up.

The marketing team’s follow-up plan

  • Marketing should design a follow-up campaign with a new and distinct goal from the webinar promotion campaign goal. For example, if the goal of the webinar promotion campaign was sign-ups, then maybe the goal of the follow-up campaign is to book a free consultation with the sales team.
  • As with the previous campaign, marketing should ensure the cadence and content of the campaign is shared with the sales team so that they can tailor their follow-up around it.
  • Going a step further, marketing can coordinate with sales to send automated messages from their user in a marketing automation tool. Just make sure you’re all on the same page before doing so!
  • Once a prospect completes the goal of this campaign and converts to an SQL, make sure they’re removed from any marketing workflows. That messaging is no longer appropriate for them, and you don’t want to step on the toes of the sales team.

The sales team’s follow-up plan

  • Just because marketing will be sending automated follow-ups doesn’t mean your sales team’s personal touch isn’t needed after the webinar. Your leads won’t get much warmer than when they’re hot off attending a webinar. Make sure you strike while the iron is hot and get in touch, even if it’s just a brief note to thank them for attending.

Hot Tip: Be specific in your sales follow-up ,especially since the marketing messages won’t be. For example, reference a previous conversation or invite them to coffee at a nearby shop to chat further.

Don’t sell your sales team short

According to G2, sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% better at closing deals.

Sales enablement is a critical function of marketing for successful B2B companies. When sales and marketing work together, expect to see a jump in revenue, higher conversion rates, and a shorter sales cycle.

Want to learn more about how we can help build a content marketing engine that aligns both sales and marketing? Contact us!

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