Lead qualification is one of the top uses for business webinars. In an attempt to qualify the best sales leads, webinar vendors and webinar hosts may employ lead scoring based on answers to registration questions before the webinar, responses to interactive polls during the webinar, and responses to post-webinar surveys. Some vendors construct an “engagement score” based on things like number of interactions during the webinar, length of time the webinar window had focus on the computer desktop, and other statistics.

I am not knocking those scoring methodologies. If you deliver lots of webinars or have many hundreds or even thousands of participants, you need a way to prioritize sales follow-ups quickly and consistently.

But I find that far too often, sales and marketing groups undervalue or completely ignore the most powerful lead qualifier of all: text questions and comments submitted by attendees.

If you are responsible for generating leads from a demand generation webinar, your task schedule should include time blocked out immediately following the webinar for responding to high priority text submissions. Look through the “chat log” or “Q&A report” your webinar vendor produces to highlight questions about product functionality, cost, licensing terms, interoperability with other software, or case studies. These indicate real consideration of whether your offering might be practical for purchase and implementation. The very fact that the attendee asked the question is a lead qualifier.

Taking advantage of this information relies on speed of response. This is where too many sales/marketing processes fall short. All registrant/attendee information gets dumped into a CRM system and a sales person eventually makes contact whenever the record bubbles up to the top of the action list. By that time, the questioner has forgotten the context and the urgency of the information. Instead of welcoming and appreciating a response to their question, they feel like they are being harassed with an unwanted sales call.

The webinar organizer should take responsibility for reviewing text interactions during the webinar (and in post-webinar survey responses if applicable) to find the few that signal sales interest. Those should go to a rapid response team that has been already been briefed on the topic of the webinar and told to keep time free on their calendar for making some quick attendee responses the same afternoon (preferably within one or two hours of the webinar). You are fighting rapidly diminishing interest and receptiveness from your prospect, so being effective is a question of hours, not days.

Don’t treat attendee chat and questions as second-tier data or subordinate to your quantified lead scoring. Numbers give you an easy way to deal with large populations, but text is still king in conveying useful information. Make text review a priority for identifying fast response cases following a lead generation webinar.