Why you should not use webinars to sell to engineers

Josh Rodriguez

by Josh Rodriguez, NoonPi PDH Strategy Specialist

Some industrial manufacturers use webinars to pitch their products to engineers. That’s a bad idea.

The problem is not with using webinars to reach engineers. The problem is the objective of the webinar. A webinar for engineers should be educational, not a sales pitch. Use a webinar to present an educational topic related to the products you sell, and award professional development hours (PDH) to the engineers.

Engineers love attending webinars because…

  1. They need PDH credits for license renewal.
  2. There are gaps in their knowledge that need to be filled by experts. You can be that expert!

The problem with using the guise of professional development to overtly sell to engineers is two-fold.

First, sales pitches and product demonstrations are not acceptable for PDH credit. The state licensing boards are very clear about this. The expectation of the licensing boards is that an educational activity should be educational.

A webinar (or lunch & learn) qualifies for PDH credit if it educates an engineer on an approved topic that is pertinent to his professional practice.

  • A sales pitch is NOT professional development.
  • A tour through your product catalog is NOT professional development.
  • An equipment demonstration is NOT professional development.
  • Showing how your widget compares favorably to your competitor’s widget is NOT professional development.

Secondly, engineers don’t want to sit through a sales presentation. They want to learn pertinent information that will help them in their professional practice.

I’ve seen this play out time and time again.

NoonPi hosts free lunchtime webinars for engineers to earn PDH credits.  Some of the webinars are presented by industrial manufacturers’ representatives. All presenters are given the rules upfront: No sales pitches! We review all the presentation slides beforehand to ensure there is minimal sales content. But, despite our best efforts, sometimes presenters will drift into selling mode.

When that happens, we get complaints from our attendees… “I didn’t come to hear a sales pitch” or “I’m not happy about the presenter today. He spent 20 minutes talking about his product line.”

Don’t ruin your webinar by trying to sell to engineers. Per state board rules, the minimum credit that can be awarded for a webinar is 1 PDH.

That’s an entire hour you have in front of an audience of engineers to:

  • Demonstrate topic authority and position yourself as a valuable resource that engineers can rely on to help solve their problems.
  • Create an authentic human connection with engineers, so they see real people when they think of your brand – not a faceless corporation.
  • Build goodwill with engineers by providing something of real value to them.

Use that one hour to build credibility with the engineers in your audience by educating them on a topic that will help them in their professional practice.

If you sell centrifugal pumps, you can host a webinar on how to develop system curves or how to select the right mechanical seal. If your company manufactures electrical transformers, you could educate engineers on the pros and cons of oil-cooled transformers vs. dry type transformers. You get the idea.

One final thought… You might be tempted to exclude your SME and just let your sales team present your webinar topic.  Think twice before doing that.

It may be OK if you have a seasoned salesperson who can talk the talk and walk the walk in front of an audience of engineers. But you want to put your best foot forward. Ideally, your presenter should be a subject matter expert who knows the topic and speaks the language of engineering.

One good approach is to have two presenters on hand. If the salesperson has better oratory skills, then let her run the presentation. But, have an SME there who can jump in to answer the difficult technical questions.

If you’d like to chat with an expert to learn more about how to use PDH events to connect with engineers, book a free consultation.

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