How to evaluate whether your business-to-business Web site understands your clients' needs. Start with your sales team.
It's long been said that your Web site is like a virtual salesperson, telling potential clients about your company. In this economy, you must ensure your salespeople are at the top of their game and really understand your clients' needs. Your Web site, acting as an über-salesperson, needs to do the same.
When an author writes a book, he carefully organizes that book into chapters. Chapters have a precise order aimed at telling a narrative. The story isn't told all in the first chapter; readers are introduced to the story and brought in gradually in a way that makes to them. Similarly, when pitching to a specific industry or company, a salesperson doesn't put every detail about your company in a slideshow. First, she researches the prospective client first, then either picks the appropriate canned presentation (e.g., the one concentrating on the financial vertical or retail vertical) or creates a new presentation from scratch that contains the information about your company that will be most relevant to that prospect.
Think about how much content is on your Web site and how your site is organized. Most B2B (define) sites have a "Products" or "Services" tab that lists everything the company does. The user is left to ferret out the appropriate information for her type of business. This is akin to the book author throwing all his pages on the floor and saying, "Start reading wherever you want." A B2B Web site shouldn't be like a "choose your own adventure" paperback.
A good salesperson is a good storyteller. A salesperson's job is to tell your company's story to a prospect in a way that makes the prospect understand, in the prospect's own language, how your company understands them, their business, and their problems -- and why your company has the solutions.
Your Web site must do the same. How good a salesperson is your site ? If a salesperson went into a meeting armed with only your Web site and said to the prospect, "Click on something," how far do you think the meeting would go?
Here's your homework:
At the end of this exercise, you'll know whether your site actually has enough of the right content to be a good sales tool. You'll also have an idea of the narrative structure that your salespeople use to introduce your company to a specific industry.
Your next step is create a site section tailored to this industry that puts all those pages in the correct order and makes sure the major story points (i.e., the main things your salesperson said) are clear and readable amidst the rest of your content.
Once you have sections dedicated to each vertical you serve, your site will begin to act more like your best salesperson. Each of these new sections will tell a clear story relevant to each vertical. Sections will include important details, and leave out the unimportant ones. Additionally, these special areas will help with SEO (define), because they will contain more industry-specific terms likely to be used in natural searches.
In this tough economy, you have to put your best foot forward. Having a one-size-fits-all Web site that doesn't really cater to any of your prospects is far less effective than creating very specific sales pitches for each vertical. Your salespeople already know this, so it's time to loop them in and use their knowledge to reinvent your B2B Web site as a powerful sales tool.
Questions, thoughts, comments? Leave a message below!
Until next time...
Jack is off today. This column previously ran on April 17, 2009.
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