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14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 11: Have A Good Website

By October 21, 2011July 2nd, 2014Website Design & Marketing
14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 11: Have A Good Website

I’m about to tell you something so deceptively simple that you’re going to read it and click off this page with a bored/let down/quite possibly irritated shake of your head. You’re going to think I’m wasting your time because I ran out of things to say. You’d be wrong!

When you read this tip, resist the impulse to click off and instead read on. It may sound simple but there is often a huge yawning gap between understanding and execution.

If you want to turn prospects into customers, you’ll close that gap right now. I’ll even give you some tips to do it!

Tip #11: Have A Good Website

Still reading? Glad to have you! Allow me to pay you a compliment: you are way smarter than your competitor, who just left and isn’t going to find out why a site is important, let alone how to turn out a good one.

In the era of Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts, having a website may seem so 2005 and you’re not convinced it matters that much anymore. You have one because… well, you have to, right? Wrong again!

A website is often the first thing a prospect will see and the first place he will learn about your company. Facebook is a social platform and we are lucky enough to be invited to the party where we can mingle with our customers in their real lives. But it is not where people are going to find out about your business.

I’m sure there are exceptions. If you sell chocolate covered popcorn, you can probably find and convert prospects just walking down the street. But for most small business owners – from lawyers to landscapers – it’s not as easy.

Having a website is still the primary way that you get to tell people about yourself, your values, your services and what benefits they offer. You can certainly generate prospects on social networking sites like LinkedIn but then you must convert that prospect into a customer.

And you do that by demonstrating your expertise, part of which is your ability to put together an informational, convincing website.

Why You’re Not (Totally) Qualified To Decide Whether Your Site Is Good Or Not

Allow me to pay you another compliment: I bet you know what a good website is. I bet you can look at a site and decide whether it’s worth your time or just another click-good-bye in your day.

But I also bet that when it comes to your website, you have a bit of myopia. I can prove it by analogy: you know that dirty pair of socks that’s been on the floor in your living room for two weeks? Which socks? The socks you keep stepping over because you don’t see them anymore, until the doorbell rings and you scurry around shoving those socks and the twelve other things you’ve been stepping over into the nearest closet.

All the things you didn’t really “see” before become glaringly obvious when you see them from the perspective of an unexpected visitor.

Think of your website visitor as someone who will ring your doorbell when you least expect it. How confident would you feel letting that person in? Start by putting yourself in the desk chair of your prospect and look at your website as if you’d never seen it before.

This can be tough to do; after all, you’re down in the trenches with your site and business every day. It’s a good exercise but it’s not enough. You should also have an objective third party scrutinize your site.

Even though my company builds websites every day, one of the toughest sites to build is our own. Regardless of how confident we feel in the result, we always share it with friends and colleagues to scrutinize it for us. Here’s one tiny reason that I know it’s worth it: an outside proofreader once pointed out a mistake where a word was missing from a sentence.

I read that sentence over and over even after she told me about the mistake and still couldn’t see it. It took one of those old copywriter’s tricks (read the sentence backwards, which forces you to focus on each word) before I could find the omission.

The problem was that I had read that copy so many times that my brain was simply filling in the blanks.

You may even have written some or all of your copy and feel quite attached to it. You love your unique adjectives and quirky turns of phrase. But is it the best way to get your message across? Sometimes only an objective person can help answer that question.

Also keep in mind that your job is not to be a website developer. You may have a pretty good intuitive sense of what makes a good website experience but a professional can talk to you about usability, technical limitations and considerations, optimization and myriad other subtleties that go into building good sites.

Stuff You Should Be Paying Attention To If You Want A Site That Turns Prospects Into Customers

Ok, I’ve sold you on the idea that you need a site, and that it needs to be good. Now how do you go about making it that way? One of these days I’ll write a book… but for now, here are some basic yet crucial things you should be paying attention to.

Pay Attention To Your Copy

Does it tell prospects about your services in direct language that’s easy to understand and speaks to the age/education/interest level of your audience? Your copy will sound quite different if your audience is 20-something women vs. 50-something businessmen.

Does your copy convey the “what’s in it for me?” factor or is it a diatribe about how wonderful your business is? (Hint: nobody cares) Is your copy grammatically correct and free of spelling mistakes? The more professional and tuned-in your coy sounds, the more likely your prospect will understand, relate and act.

I can’t overstate the importance of having valuable, useful copy that effectively conveys your messages. I beg you to stay away from the canned, pre-written copy that so often appears on the websites of various professionals such as attorneys and financial planners.

The copy on your site should reflect you and your business, not the generic “here’s what you need to know about retirement planning” junk that gets copied and pasted ad infinitum to nobody’s benefit. How can you choose among businesses that all sound like clones of each other?

Make it easy for a prospect to choose you by showing that you aren’t them.

Pay Attention To The Empty Spaces

Web users know that there is a scroll bar on the right side of the page and they know how to use it. No need to cram everything into the space “above the fold”. That’s entirely retro thinking. More important than making sure everything is in your prospect’s face is making sure that you are guiding them – not only with a call to action but with effective use of space – to follow the path you’ve set out.

Empty space (also known as white space) gives people a chance to rest their eyes as they scan from one thing to the next on a page. Space creates hierarchy and structure and can mean the difference between a good site and a completely unusable one.

Give the content on your site room to breathe and people will do the same as they scan and browse through the great information you’ve provided.

Pay Attention To Your Call To Action

Once you get a person to your site, you’re only halfway there. Now you’ve got to get them to take action. Make sure you point your prospects in the direction you want them to go with a “call now” or “get your consultation here” or whatever you may want them to do.

No, it is not obvious what you want your prospect to do so don’t for a second think this doesn’t pertain to your site. As obvious as you may think it is, make it more so. Make it a no-brainer for prospects to become your customers. If you do this correctly, you can get them to respond nearly on auto-pilot.

Pay Attention To Accessibility

This one could be another whole book, but briefly, you should do as much as possible to ensure that people can view your site wherever and whenever they want. Start by making sure your site loads quickly and that your images are optimized for fast download.

Then make sure your site is readable by keeping background colors to a minimum and by using multiple font types sparingly. Make your copy scannable by including headings and bullet points where appropriate.

Finally, consider the fact that people are accessing your site on various browsers with various screen resolutions and on various devices. Chrome on a widescreen monitor can display your site quite differently than Internet Explorer on a laptop or Safari on an iPhone.

Test your site and stay away from techniques and technologies that can render your site inaccessible to big swaths of your audience. If people can reach your site – but not your competitor’s – guess who will be getting that lead?

A website may seem like one of those things you “just have” but it can mean the difference between getting customers and losing a whole lot of prospects.

So make sure it’s there, and make sure it’s good. A good site demonstrates professionalism, capability, credibility and shows customers that you’re worth their time and money.

Be better than your competitors and people will notice.

When was the last time you asked a professional for an honest, objective evaluation of your website?

Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series