No matter how good your salespeople are, if your website is bad, it’s going to make it infinitely harder for them to sell. Today's educated buyers don't need to talk to a salesperson to evaluate and compare companies, products, services, and pricing. They turn to the Internet first, gathering as much information as they can. According to Demand Gen Report's 2014 Content Preferences Survey:
- 75% of buyers rely more on content research to make B2B purchasing decisions than they did in 2013.
- Buyers are doing general web searches and going directly to vendor websites for information.
- Two-thirds (66%) of buyers strongly agree that B2B vendors should improve the quality of their content and curb straight up sales messages.
Companies that can provide good content online along with a superior website user experience will get the most interest, the most leads, and the biggest market share.
Example of How Your Website Impacts Sales
Your website is the hub for all revenue-generating activity. Salespeople send prospects there via direct emails and phone calls (and if they're not, then they think your site adds no value to the sales process). Marketing sends prospects there via social media, email marketing, blogging, etc. And prospects might find you on search engines. A company's website has the potential to create a continuous stream of opportunities - or not. Here's an example:
Imagine you (the prospect) have a problem to solve and are starting to think about searching for a solution. Just then, you get an email delivered to your inbox with information relevant to the problem at hand. Perfect timing. (Hey – if a seller or marketer understands their target audience, it should happen sometimes!)
Here are 2 ways this can go:
1: Great Website Experience
You hop on over to the site and are immediately engaged. You’re nodding your head yes as the information follows your mental path precisely from defining your problem, identifying potential solutions, and understanding the value they can potentially provide you.
There’s no guesswork involved at all. The information is crystal clear, almost surprisingly so. It’s like they’re reading your mind – all your questions are answered before you even know you have them.
The graphical appeal is modern and ultra-easy to follow along. After reading many of the company's web pages, you're interested in learning more and open to a conversation. Heck, you may even initiate a conversation.
2: Bad Website Experience
You hop on over to the site, and immediately your brow furrows in confusion. You struggle to understand what the company actually does. Nothing grabs your attention, and you have to think way too hard to decipher fluffy B.S. The graphical appeal is clunky and outdated and you're not sure where to click to get the information you need. Heck, you're beginning to think they don't have the information you need.
You bounce off the site quickly because there is nothing of value for you there, and you unsubscribe from the company's email marketing and avoid any salesperson’s attempts at talking to you. You're beginning to think that status quo might not be so bad if finding the right solution is going to be this difficult.
There you have it. There’s no in-between.
Marketing Can't Do it Alone
Creating a great website experience isn’t easy. Unfortunately, due to a lack of alignment between sales and marketing, the good content buyers demand is elusive. Marketing doesn’t understand the sales process enough to engage the right prospects for lead gen, and sellers don't have good enough content to keep prospects in the sales cycle.
Sellers are on the front lines talking to prospects every day – they’re the best source of information about what buyers want and need. On the flip side, salespeople don't usually have time to write web copy, blog articles, or other types of content, and they're not trained to be digital marketers.
The line between sales and marketing is becoming increasingly blurred. The two have to work together as a tightly knit unit. It takes a lot of internal coordination, hard thinking, good writing, and decent graphic design skills to make your website a powerful sales tool.
Clear your mind of any preconceived ideas about your website. Look at it with the eyes of a person who has no idea who you are. What will their first impression be? Does it instill enough confidence to warrant continuing with the sales conversation?