Launch RFID Sales Via Webinars
Of this RFID (radio frequency identification) integratorâ€™s expected 230% sales revenue growth this year, 60% is expected to come from Webinars.
You're a 9-year-old integrator specializing in RFID. You have created, or obtained via company acquisition, an arsenal of RFID applications that serve the automotive, law enforcement, livestock, and general retail industries, plus the DoD. So how do you go about marketing and selling your RFID solutions? If you're Austin, TX-based Intelligentz, you're using Webinars (presentations delivered via the Web). The integrator isn't finding just moderate success in using Webinars to land sales; it expects to increase revenue in 2007 by a whopping 60%. The good news is that holding your own Webinars is easier than you might think.
Intelligentz didn't just stumble upon using Webinars to increase sales. In fact, the use of Webinars was an evolution that initially began with seminars. Based on Intelligentz' CEO and founder Michael Lucas' prior experience as an advertising executive, he learned that regardless of what was being sold, every seminar yields a similar result. "It didn't matter what we were selling — it could be a $200 item or a $10,000 item — at the end of the seminar we had a 15% to 20% closing rate," says Lucas. "We produced seminars that would generate 2,000 people and seminars with 10 people, and there was always that 15% to 20% closing rate." With the success he had with seminars, Lucas decided to adopt the model to boost Intelligentz' RFID sales. "Our outbound telemarketers would work hard to get 100 people to sign up for our free RFID seminar," says Lucas. "Of those 100, only about 30 would show up. Since it was free, people didn't mind missing it. Of the 30 who did show up, we'd get the average 15% to 20% closing rate."
While landing a handful of new clients is never a bad thing, it's important to know what it costs to earn that new business. In Intelligentz' case, Lucas found it was cost-prohibitive to hold seminars to reach the company's potential RFID audience. "We added up the expenses of a seminar, calculated our average cost per person, and compared it to the cost per closing rate," explains Lucas. "The total cost of travel, hotel, and renting a seminar room greatly decreased our profit margin, making the 20% closing rate less attractive. This led us to rethink using seminars to increase our sales." Lucas estimates that the average cost of holding his type of seminar was around $4,500. Therefore, he decided to try Webinars and discovered that they yielded nearly the same closing rate as seminars, but at 1/7 the cost.
Affordably Reach A Wide RFID Audience
Intelligentz found many benefits to switching to Webinars. First, and most simply, the seminar expenses are removed. In addition, not only is Intelligentz able to hold Webinars for less cost, but the company can hold them more frequently. In fact, the integrator currently hosts at least three Webinars every week. Holding as many seminars would cost over $700,000 a year. Also, due to the removal of geographic limitations, Webinars now can be held at times that allow Intelligentz to gain audiences across multiple time zones. For instance, the company often holds Webinars at 10 a.m. Central time, allowing attendees in the Eastern and Pacific time zones to participate during business hours. Additionally, Intelligentz has found Webinars are perceived to be less invasive to attendees than seminars. "If attendees have to leave the office for a seminar, they can waste a good part of their day traveling," says Lucas. "Webinars don't require any travel time, so attendance rates are higher. People also seem to prefer Webinars, since there is no face-to-face interaction, and therefore there is less pressure to buy anything. However, while potential customers haven't seen you yet, you're still building a solid relationship and moving closer to a sale." Finally, Webinars have an added bonus of reducing marketing expenses such as printed brochures and other supporting materials. Since the online content is digital, it can be modified immediately without the shipping and proofing delays common with printed material.
To deliver its Webinars, Intelligentz uses the Webinar services of GoToMeeting, allowing attendees to join a private virtual meeting room and watch the speaker progress through a series of educational slides. The company has created unique presentations catered to each of its target markets, such as DoD, law enforcement, and livestock. Lucas believes it's important to make the Webinars informative while not jumping right into a sales pitch. In fact, in an hour-long Intelligentz RFID Webinar, the first 10 minutes is entirely an education on RFID technology. Then, the speaker discusses how long RFID has been around, how it is deployed, and how it applies to the attendees' markets. Finally, in only the final quarter of the presentation, Intelligentz shows attendees an application the company developed for the attendees' specific situation (e.g. DoD suppliers are shown DoD-mandate-specific solutions; see sidebar on this page).
Generate More RFID Sales Leads
After hearing of Intelligentz' success with Webinars, you may be sold on the concept and ready to hold your own Webinars. You have a speaker, and you've got the presentation information to pull it off. Great. Now, how about the audience? To secure Webinar attendees, Intelligentz uses time-tested outbound telemarketing. The integrator uses a Web-based directory called Sales Genie, which its pays a monthly fee to access. At a cost of $200 per month, the integrator can generate a list of leads based on industry, region, state, city, Zip code, number of employees, and amount of revenue. In addition to using the directory for sales leads, Intelligentz has used it to quickly perform a survey of a potential market size when making plans for moving into a new market.
To manage the leads and track the progress of sales, Intelligentz uses the Web-based customer relationship management (CRM) service of Salesforce.com in addition to its own home-grown CRM software. "We have the ability to import contact information from Sales Genie into Salesforce.com and our own customer CRM application," says Lucas. "However, the functionality of Salesforce.com has grown to where many of our associates feel it is too complicated to use for what we need. Currently, we let each account executive use whichever they are more comfortable with."
When scheduling Webinars, Intelligentz strives to have 10 attendees at a time and tries not to schedule more than 20. Lucas explains that it becomes difficult for the coordinator to manage more than 20 attendees for a single session. With 10 attendees, it's easier to ensure everyone can participate in the Q&A session following the speaker presentation. If an Intelligentz account executive can get an attendee to sit through the entire Webinar, they are given a $25 bonus. In addition, the account executive gets a bonus when a deal is closed. "It was a big gamble for me to offer our associates these bonuses, but as a result, they work the phones a lot harder," says Lucas. "It's their account that they manage from start to finish, and the incentives help keep the sales process moving." Lucas adds that Intelligentz account executives keep people from leaving the Webinars prematurely by doing two things. First, Intelligentz doesn't mislead people regarding the length of the Webinar. People have busy schedules — if you tell attendees that the Webinar is going to be 1 hour, you need to start on time and not go over 1 hour. Secondly, at the end of Intelligentz' Webinars, there is a Q&A session with peers and others in the industry. Intelligentz' account executives pitch this as a great opportunity for attendees to pick the brain of the expert speaker and see what other attendees are doing. Providing a Q&A session has been enough to get most attendees to sit through the entire Webinar.
To make sure that Webinars are run smoothly, Intelligentz has one lead account executive who acts as the coordinator and team captain. "If you're going to hold Webinars, you need to have one person on who's dedicated to making sure the speaker is ready," says Lucas. "If the speaker is at a remote site, it's possible they could have technical difficulties such as not being able to log into the Webinar software. Our coordinator calls ahead to make sure the speaker is online, is able to connect to the Webinar, and is ready. It doesn't look good if your speaker doesn't have the presentation in front of him and is winging it."
Since hosting Webinars, Intelligentz is far from winging it. The integrator is hosting Webinars for its new RFID applications every week and has seen a 60% increase in sales since adopting the marketing method. It isn't alone. Analyst firm Forrester Research, Inc. performed a study of marketing tactics and found that 72% of respondents were using Webinars in 2006. Many of the VARs Business Solutions writes about are hiring a marketing staff to get their messages out. Intelligentz may have found what you've been searching for — an economical method of marketing your RFID solutions, while saving money.