Your company website can serve as far more than a marketing and PR vehicle—it should be a genuine sales tool as well.
Guest post by Ken Thoreson, recognized sales management thought leader and managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, through his website at AcumenManagement.com, or visit his blog at YourSalesManagementGuru.com.
A company’s sales and marketing teams should always work together, communicating frequently to make sure their messages are aligned. However, while many companies have invested significantly in websites that serve the marketing function of promoting a unique value proposition, many miss the sales side of the equation—that is, proving that messaging to prospective customers.
For that reason, your salespeople should take prospects to visit your company’s website at a suitable time in the sales process. This exercise is best done in a face-to-face sales call. In the case of a remote sales team, you could substitute a video tour of your offices or use client case studies or video testimonials that reinforce your intended messaging. The new Flip Cameras are great tools to use to interview clients at trade shows, in their offices or at your own office, and the videos are easy to upload to your website.
The important action is for your salesperson to “walk” through your website pointing out key benefits of your offering, and depending upon your value proposition, showing proof. For example, if you sell your “long term commitment to your clients,” then show two or three videos or testimonials of clients that have been using your services for the past 10 years. If you sell commitment to a vertical market, then show your various associations and Industry Board of Advisors. If you are a low-cost provider, then perhaps an ROI analysis might be of value.
An Interactive Experience
In working with an Acumen Management Group client that used ROI justification in most sales situations, we helped design the company’s website visit to work into their sales process. On the fourth step of the eight-step process, the salesperson would “take” the prospect through the website, including completing an online questionnaire regarding a potential solution. The prospect’s information was automatically run through a spreadsheet, which was then reviewed by the company’s CFO.
Next, the CFO created a written analysis of the projected ROI. Then the salesperson delivered the CFO’s results to the prospect, discussed the potential ROI and reviewed the value-proposition messaging. Finally, the salesperson closed by saying something along these lines: “I will work with you every quarter for the next two years to either validate that these metrics are achieved or to define what actions need to take place to ensure your ROI.”
While the effort may sound labor-intensive, the interactive online experience, combined with the CFO’s input, usually paid off by bringing the prospect closer to the company. The salesperson’s closing commitment was designed to prove the company’s marketing messaging, which, in turn, was likely to increase the prospect’s trust and confidence in the organization. Additionally, whenever a prospect became a client, the salesperson had a built-in sales call scheduled every 90 days for the next two years!
Beyond Crossed Signals
Often, marketing teams develop great value propositions and other messaging for their companies’ websites and other materials, but the sales teams aren’t trained to deliver those messages effectively. In fact, during many client engagements, we find that salespeople can’t accurately or clearly express their organizations’ value propositions. For that reason, we recommend that companies offer formal training, including role-playing exercises, to ensure that their salespeople can effectively deliver the appropriate company messages. Your salespeople do not have the “right” to put their spin on your message. Our recommendation is to video tape your role play exercises, especially when the salespeople work on delivering your value proposition.
Bottom line: Your company’s Web site should not only help all online visitors understand what your business does and invite them to investigate further, but also ensure that your selling process effectively proves your message to prospects and customers. By linking your value proposition to the emotions that prospects go through during the sales process, then creating an interactive online sales experience, you can increase both your sales velocity and your win rates.