In speaking with clients, I often ask “do you currently use your website as a sales tool?” Often, I’m left with silence – the telephone equivalent of a blank-stare. I then describe what I mean, “For instance, do you direct people to your website when you are on the phone with them?”
The pervasive thinking on websites
Over the years we’ve been conditioned to think of our websites as “marketing tools.” Rarely does anyone say yes to my question. The typical answer is “Why would I do that? I have them on the phone so I answer their questions.” Among professional service businesses, the pervasive thinking on websites is that they are for lead-generation only and once you have a lead, the site’s roll is done. That’s unfortunate because a website is a wonderful piece of sales collateral.
Website as sales collateral
I use my companies website (www.edit.com) as a tool during conversations with clients frequently and at various points:
- Outreach: To establish credibility, I steer people to the site. I say “www.edit.com” in voicemails. I email links to the homepage and selected interior pages.
- Discovery: When I am engaged with a client and discovering their needs and our fit, I use select pages on the site to “show” my point, rather than just say it.
- Presenting: While presenting solutions to clients, I walk them through the site to set the stage for the solutions as well as to detail the solution(s) we’re providing.
- In closing: If questions remain when I follow up with a client, I’ll steer them to the site and walk them through the relevant page(s) to answer their questions.
The above examples are how I proactively use the website. In my experience, websites are also used by prospective clients on their own. I’ve had clients tell me they have gone back to our site to:
- Self-serve: Review our website to try to answer the questions they forgot to ask or didn’t realize they had until they were home, after hours.
- Present to others: I call it “Decision by Committee” even if that committee is a team of two. Typically I will speak with one member of a team and they will use the site to educate the others involved in the decision.
- Confirm their decision: This is the grand-daddy of them all – when a client goes back to our site to ask “am I making the right decision?” After all of my hard work, it would really be a shame if the site let me down.
Optimizing your collateral
Of course using your website as sales collateral requires collateral worthy of using. You shouldn’t send clients to your site just for the sake of sending clients to your site. It needs to provide them with something useful if not valuable and it needs to be of value to you too.
How is your site doing? Can you reasonably expect to use it as a sales tool? The questions I suggest you ask yourself are:
- Does our website look modern, up-to-date, and industry appropriate? (note, you may want to ask a friend, family member, or colleague about this. They will be more objective and probably have less “website fatigue” than you.)
- Do we clearly state what we do and that we are good at it?
- Are common questions answered on the website?
- Can I email links to important pages directly to clients?
More than a marketing tool
Clearly, your website is more than a marketing tool. For most small businesses today, it is the number one piece of sales collateral. As such it is important to use it and have something worth using and use it.
Share your stories
Do you use your website as a sales tool? Have you had a business do a good job of walking you through their site as part of their presentation? Share your stories in the comments.