Is Your Website Your Business Development Partner?
Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Burdick Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies
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Let’s face it. Most company websites are an embarrassment. Something you hope your current and prospective customers either will ignore or overlook. And still call you for an amazingly in-depth, insightful discussion that results in a request for proposal. Now that’s wishful thinking. Ever heard of the saying “one picture’s worth a thousand words?”
Others of you have a website that’s flashy. It’s got streaming this and that. It’s crammed full of announcements about product innovations. It’s your online portfolio that you hope will WOW a prospective customer. In fact, it’s so overwhelmingly full of pictorial and streaming verbiage that the visitor doesn’t know where to look first. Ever heard of the saying “one picture’s worth a thousand words?”
Most of you have ho-hum websites whose major function is to be “informational.” And that information is buried throughout the entire website, sort of like a scavenger hunt. And of course, an internal employee created the website because, well, engineers can do all things. (And they can, but why would they be assigned to such a task and take away from billable time to prove this point?). Or your website was created by some vendor who was nothing more than an order-taker. So the website was designed by committee, or by ego, and tells you what you already know. But it doesn’t tell your prospective customer anything relevant.
Who has time to hunt through your website content for what they are searching for in the first place? When’s the last time you read a website cover-to-cover, even if it had intuitive navigation?
Your website is your online persona. After a successful business development call – either in person or via phone or virtually – your customers and prospects are going to “check you out” …. online. And the feedback they receive from their efforts can make or break you – no matter how successful a presentation and relationship building strategy you may have.
1. They will Google your company name. What are they going to find? How well is your company managing its online persona? How well are you managing your online persona, for that matter?
A mediocre, out-of-date, information-flash-overload, or non-intuitive website can successfully demonstrate, in 2 to 5 seconds, that you are not who you seem to be and you are not in touch with your customers. How anticipatory is your website to the types of questions and issues that a current and/or prospective customer might have? Does your website provide answers to these questions in the same place, or all over the place? Does your website have links to links to links to pdfs?
Hey, would you want to use your website? One of my clients, whose building materials company caters to architects and civil engineers, realized some of his internal personnel were spending an average of 2 hours a day – each – guiding folks through their old website to the information they needed to find. And those were the customers/prospects who actually called in. Think about how many folks simply gave up and went elsewhere for business.
Do you have any idea how much 2 hours of these employee’s billable time cost that company? Until they achieved their new website which tripled their website traffic and contacts? Talk about the cost of doing business let alone the impact a poor website has on business development!
2. Oh, and what else will prospective clients find when they Google your company name? Will they find out about liens against your company, lawsuits, hazmat citations and other non-glorious information? Will they find kudos, honors and awards your company has received?
Will these prospective customers wonder how your company can win design awards yet have a mediocre, non-customer-centric website? Will customers compare what they read when they Google your company with the content and format of your website and find it similar or different to their customer experience?
3. They will Google you by name as well. What are they going to find? Because you need to manage your personal brand in conjunction with your professional brand as well. If you are on the roster of your religious institution, or have made donations to civic causes, participated in a mini marathon, well, that tells your prospective customers a little bit more about you. I don’t need to tell you that having a complete LinkedIn profile, including references, is essential. Your professional brand is linked to and complements the company for whom you work. Is your personal brand better than your company’s brand? Now that’s an interesting question.
You need to be able to tell your prospective customers and current clients to “check out my website” and “check out my LinkedIn profile.” Because they are going to do this anyway. Make this aspect part of your business development etiquette. And make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and dynamic – even if your corporate website is not.
So how’s your company using the rules of engagement of today’s Internet to assist your business development efforts? Having a company website that walks your talk is mandatory.