Here’s my number one tip for building a great website: Think of your website as the digital equivalent of your top salesperson.
Think about what a really good salesperson does for an organization. Think of how well they know the customer. Think of how likable they are. Think of how well they know the product, how they ask just the right questions at just the right time, how they follow up appropriately. I’m not talking about the amateur salesperson who is overly aggressive, outgoing or manipulative. I’m talking about the experienced guy or gal who skillfully goes about bringing in truckloads of revenue week after week, month after month.
I’ve studied a lot of sales methodology. I’ve also built a lot of websites. In my view, here are five things a good salesperson does that a good website should do too:
1. A good salesperson knows her prospect.
A good salesperson knows everything about her target prospect including their demographics, interests, worldviews, buying patterns and most importantly: their pain. Thanks to this knowledge, she can quickly build relationships with her prospects and gain their trust, which is the essential ingredient in any transaction. She won’t need to waste a lot of time asking contextual questions because she already knows the answers. She comes across as an expert who has seen this problem before and has a well-crafted solution ready.
Similarly, a good website knows its prospect. The home page speaks to the pain the visitor is experiencing. The navigation reflects questions the prospect is asking. It shows testimonials and case studies that will resonate with the prospect. It shows imagery that the visitor will appreciate. It says the words the prospect will recognize and relate to.
2. A good salesperson knows her market. She knows how her product/service stacks up against the competitive set.
A good salesperson is very aware of where her product or service fits into the marketplace. She knows its strengths and weaknesses, just as she knows the strengths and weaknesses of competing products. She knows when the competitor’s product is a better solution, and how to help a prospect discover a competitor’s weakness before it’s too late.
Similarly, a good website knows that the competitors’ websites are likely open in browser tabs right next to its own. It knows who the other players are in the industry and the path a visitor has likely traveled before arriving here. It knows that if it doesn’t help a visitor understand why its brand is different right away, they will leave. It zeroes in on these differentiators and doesn’t dilute the message with confusing or superfluous content that will only distract the visitor.
3. A good salesperson educates and empowers her prospect. She helps her prospect discover the need for her product/service for himself.
People don’t like to be pushed. The best salespeople lead their prospects to an emotional discovery of need, then let the prospect decide if/when/how to move forward. Similarly, a website needs to court its prospect. Through good copy, images and videos, it needs to raise rhetorical questions that lead a visitor toward discovering his need for the product.
A good website also knows that these days, 70% of a buyer’s decision is made in a research and information gathering phase before they ever talk to a live person. It has the information to educate potential clients and set them on the path to success.
4. A good salesperson is likable.
At the end of the day, we buy from people we like. This is especially true for high-dollar transactions because we know the purchase is not the end of the transaction but the beginning of a relationship. Good salespeople are likable and leave us feeling confident in our decision to share a small portion of our life’s journey with them.
A good website should also be likable. It should employ writing and original video content that speaks to its visitor and leaves them feeling warm inside.
5. A good salesperson makes buying easy and provides post-sale support.
Once a prospect is “sold,” sometimes the best thing for a salesperson to do is to get out of the way! Similarly, a website needs a clear call to action and an intuitive path to completing the transaction that leaves the prospect with minimal opportunity to second-guess his decision. Once the transaction is complete, a good salesperson is on the lookout for “buyer’s remorse” and stays close by to make sure the sale stays closed. The digital equivalent of this is a good “thank you” page, a follow-up email and maybe an internal trigger of some personal outreach from the brand.
More reasons to create a digital salesperson
These are just five examples, but the analogy goes on and on. Thinking of your website in this way will improve the quality of every decision you make during the design process. Now, obviously a website will never replace a good salesperson, but it can serve as an extremely valuable “warm up” or “companion” act to the real sales process, and it can even do some things that traditional salespeople can’t do such as:
- Work 24/7, never calling in sick and never having a bad day
- Deliver the message exactly as the owner intended every time without variation
- Work with mediums such as video and graphical representations
- Interact with 20,000 people at the same time
A great salesperson is one of the best assets your business can have. What else should yours be doing for you? What else can your website be doing that it doesn’t right now?