I’m not a sales person. But I work closely with one. Lorraine makes sales pitches all day, mostly over the phone and occasionally in person. As I observed these meetings, I noticed our website getting a workout. She’s always sharing links to our seminar information, blog posts and the portfolio.
What does your website do while you sell?
Customers look at your website throughout the sales process, from the first landing page all the way to post-project support. Make a great first (or second) impression with a robust online presence. And when it’s time to get personal, provide online tools that warm up leads with clear assessments and action steps. Once you close the sale, make project startup easy and you’re on the way to very happy customers.
All of this activity centers on your company website. Ready to bring it up to speed? Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Do you blog? I mean, do you really blog? Issuing announcements and press releases on your website doesn’t count. You’ve got to write something people want to share and introduce to their friends. Consistently original, helpful blog posts are the foundation for inbound marketing and the cornerstone of many a small business’s email newsletter.
Write articles addressed to your core customer base. That’s your audience. What problems do they call you with? What issues should they know about? These are your friends, help them out. You can do the writing yourself, assign a staff member or work with a writer to blog.
Blogging’s not the only content customers find useful. As they research vendors, customers are looking for stories, good and bad. Testimonials and reviews are a major piece of every company’s online presence. You have minimal control over posts on sites like Yelp and Google Maps/Google+ Local. But you have absolute control over your own site. Why not post your best testimonials?
Create a page with eight or ten two-sentence quotes. Make sure each testimonial specifically mentions a different quality. Or get three or four longer stories. If you can, include the reviewer’s real name and city. For more, check out our guide to adding testimonials to your website.
Like testimonials, a portfolio or demonstration of work is a testiment to your expertise. Customers look for examples of what you’ve done to get an idea you’ll do for them. A ready collection of work can also help you in the sales call to help customers pick out what they want.
Build a portfolio by documenting projects as you work. Try to get a before and after picture, screenshot or data reading for comparison with your finished product.
Once you and your customer are introduced, it’s your job to follow up. What will your message say? Will it grow the relationship and advance customers towards a sale? When you send an email, share a relevant blog post. Keep the conversation focused on identifying problems and offering clear action steps to solve them.
Take blog posts further with interactive features that dig deep into your customer’s specific circumstance. Try building a quiz that identifies weaknesses and suggests improvements. Share a checklist of tasks to complete before calling you.
Use an online form builder like Formstack or try Interact, a Buzzfeed-style quiz maker. Convert this digital content into printable worksheets for another valuable asset you can share through a landing page.
As you encourage this new relationship, case studies assure and encourage customers you’re the right choice. This long-form testimonial starts with a description of the problem and your proposed solution. It shows how each part of your work contributed to success and ends with a summary of the results.
Case studies show prospective customers a snapshot of your process and sets their expectations of a relationship with you. They take you and your customer deeper into a conversation about their needs. This conversation quickly leads to filling those needs, but you’ve got to get one thing absolutely right to get the conversion: make it easy to start.
That’s where those prep worksheets come in. How cool would it be if your customer walked in the door with all their homework done, ready to rock? You both save time and effort.
Get To Work
Now that you’re working together, work out the best way to share files. Whether it’s pictures, proposals, drawings, submittals or contracts, passing out a manila folder of printouts is not acceptable. Dropping off a CD or thumb drive is better, but slow. Instead, use a cloud storage and sharing service like Dropbox, Google Drive or even your own FTP hookup. Agree on a sharing method with your client and stick to it.
Same goes for your communication. There are a thousand ways to say one word. But only one way that works best for your company. Pair phone calls or audio conferencing with a text-based messaging system and insist that clients use it with you, even if it’s just email. There’s nothing like a phone call to straighten out a crisis, but calls seem to take twice as long to say the same thing as an email or chat.
Your website will be the hub for finding the right contact information and sharing instructions. Think about writing pages specifically for new or current clients that teach them how to work with your system and get the best performance for their money.
Roundpeg never sat down to make our website an asset for sales or a productivity center. These tools grew as we pursued an aggressive inbound marketing strategy. It’s taken a while to build out the toolbox we have. Learn from our experience and include sales and communication functions when you request features for your next website.