Aug 6, 2021

The Art of Closing (Pt 1) - How and When to Run a Virtual EBC

Lindsey Schiller

Head of Growth

This is part one of two on running virtual executive briefing centers.

When to Use a Virtual EBC

Like traditional Executive Briefing Centers, virtual EBCs are best used with larger accounts that merit a more high-touch experience. Unlike traditional EBCs, however, setting up a virtual EBC is far easier -- making this an effective strategy for closing enterprise accounts available to far more Account Executives and sales leaders. 

We should quickly note a definition here - we see virtual EBCs as personalized tours of the organizations’ products / solutions. Traditional EBCs are usually highly interactive or hands-on, and while virtual EBCs can’t be tactile, they can certainly be interactive as we’ll discuss below.

Typically EBCs are personalized as well. In some cases, orgs will deck out the EBC space with buyer's branding. We consider virtual EBCs as personalized tours too. While there are times and places to use generic recordings, typically virtual EBCs are personalized tours that are mostly live or synchronous meetings. 

EBCs, whether virtual or in-person, do involve planning, commitment and execution - that time-investment means they are typically used with existing customers and their growth opportunities. Often these have a size threshold and other criteria as defined by the hosting organization.

Cisco’s Executive Briefing Center

What makes a virtual EBC more than a demo?

The concept of in-person briefing centers have been more well-established, but virtual EBCs are recently evolving and are much more flexible. Virtual EBCs are longer, and should be some level of interactivity, like inviting customers to come and experience the full breadth of your solutions, engage with content, or discuss the material.

Benefits of a Virtual EBC

The shift to remote work over the last year has injected far more friction into the buying process. Without moments to connect quickly in person, decisions by large groups of stakeholders can take much longer. That said, one core benefit of a virtual EBC is simply bringing decision makers together. 

Pros of a virtual EBC:

  • Bring decision makers together in concrete time to discuss / evaluate the deal
  • A cohesive demonstration of solutions, tailored for the account
  • Ability to showcase multiple angles in a single presentation

Challenges with Virtual EBCs

In-person EBCs had an element of wining and dining the customer. Everyone has been on their fair share of Zoom calls, so one of the core challenges in the shift to virtual EBCs is simply getting people in the room. (As we discuss below, reframing the EBC as collaborative and productive can really help with this).

Secondly, the logistics of running a complex meeting, with multiple presenters, is always tricky as well. Tips on that below.

Core Components of a Virtual EBC

The central content of a Virtual EBC will be presentations from key stakeholders in your organization. To start setting the agenda, consider who should present and how they will align to build a compelling story.

The strongest virtual EBCs are not just a series of talking heads, but enable interaction. For example, enabling members of the buying committee to debate, collaborate or interact with the content presented can be a huge draw of the EBC. Members are not just coming to hear about your solutions, but to make headway in solving a core challenge. 

In turn, this gets stakeholders thinking more deeply about your solutions and how to apply them. It advances the conversation from passively listening to active problem solving.

Recap of content ideas:

  • Short presentations by a mix of technical and business roles
  • Quick presentations (or recordings) from key leadership 
  • Existing Customers. A great technique is interspersing panels with existing customers. (If a customer advocate is not available to attend live, consider recording an interview or dropping in recorded testimonials throughout the other presentations).
  • Collaboration breakouts. As we’ll touch on below, consider formats to enable your audience to discuss and engage with the material in structured or unstructured ways.
  • Cameos and gifts. You may also want to consider additional incentives to join the EBC. Whether a giveaway, gift card, or dropping in a cameo by a famous actor -- give attendees a fun reason to attend.
An example of an engaging EBC in Filo.

Reframing the Executive Briefing Center

One of the best ideas we have seen for a virtual EBC was from a Filo customer who reframed the EBC as an Innovation Day. Rather than positioning the meeting as a virtual EBC (which connotes a sales-type presentation), the meeting was reframed as a workshop. The half-day long event brought together different stakeholders in the buying organization to collaborate around a core business challenge. 

By centering an EBC on solving the buyers’ challenges, rather than solely presenting your solutions, she brought far more immediate value to the buyers. This shift only helps deepen the relationship and advance the deal toward closing.

Concretely, reframing an EBC as a workshop means including time for buyers to discuss and engage with the material. For example, after a presentation, you can set aside time for small groups to break out and brainstorm on how they would apply the information to their own organization. These sessions can be structured or unstructured, depending on the size of the groups, the relationships, etc.

Logistics 

The basic version of a virtual EBC is often a series of presentations with some discussion time. The default is your standard audio visual like Zoom or MS Teams. Basic virtual EBCs can certainly work in Zoom, but they are limited to simple presentations on a screen. In Part 2, we’ll dive into how to uplevel a virtual EBC with interactive environments that impress and persuade.