Take the leads with webinars


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Despite some misgivings, many companies report excellent results with webinars as their primary lead-gen tool. VFM Leonardo Inc., which serves video clips to travel-booking sites on behalf of the company's hotel clients, has found webinars particularly attractive to the general managers and marketing directors at individual properties, said Director of Marketing Shawn De Souza. “The big thing we try to sell to webinar attendees is that they need to lift themselves out of that list of sameness on Travelocity or Expedia,” De Souza said. “We try to explain these concepts by bringing in experts like Forrester Research Travel Analyst Henry Harteveldt.” Interestingly, VFM Leonardo uses its webinars to acquaint completely cold prospects, filling the top of its sales funnel. After the webinar, the company conducts a four- to five-week nurturing program, using e-mail to reach the webcast registrants. Having staged webinars for a year and a half, De Souza said the tactic has become the company's No. 1 lead-gen approach, and has dramatically shortened sales cycles. “Our typical sales cycle is six or seven weeks, but some deals have closed in less than a week due to our webinars,” he said.
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