How to Turn Your B2B Website into a Sales Tool
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been sitting in a meeting with a potential client and heard them say, “Our website isn’t a sales tool. No one’s going to buy something from us because of our website.”
B2B clients sometimes don’t see their website as a sales tool – typically because they either offer products or services that are highly customized, or because their product or service is so expensive that it’s not practical to purchase it online using a credit card.
In these cases, I usually ask our client, “If the website doesn’t sell, then what role does it play in the sales cycle?”
Most clients explain that their website is a tool for providing reassurance. They say the main point of their site is to legitimize the business and show that it’s a dependable choice for customers. In these conversations, I often hear the word “credibility.”
I completely understand this perspective — and can relate to having a product that is too customized and too expensive to buy online — but I think that even in these cases, a website can do more to sell your B2B products and services than you think.
A website is always a sales tool for your business. Where it might not be the best fit is in closing the sale.
It’s true: most B2B businesses still need an actual person to pick up the phone and close the sale. But this isn’t because websites are ineffective at selling. It’s because in B2B, conversations are better at closing.
The point of a good marketing website is to inform, inspire and reassure. And while many B2C websites are focused on e-commerce, a B2B website’s primary purpose is to generate interest and capture leads. It’s the sales team’s job to close the deal, but a good B2B website can get customers most of the way there.
Without a strong digital lead generation strategy, a business will have to rely on referrals and cold calling. A website that consistently generates leads takes some of the uncertainty out of knowing where your next customer is coming from.
Here are some simple tips to help your B2B website generate leads and play a greater role in your sales cycle:
- Language: A lead-generating website should be well written, and quickly explain the benefits of doing business with you to your target audience. What problems do they have and how are you uniquely positioned to help? After they decide to do business with you, what does that beautiful new world look like?
- One purpose per page: If your goal is lead generation, each page of your website should have a single, focused purpose. Is the intent of this page to get someone to call? Or maybe sign up for a newsletter? Or view high-value gated content? Ask yourself what the desired action is on every page on your website.
- Calls to action: I’m not sure where this phrase originated, but “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” Once you figure out the intent of each page, you should ask your website visitors to do something, and every request should be clear and compelling. Your calls to action should be friendly, not robotic. (Here’s a great article on creating effective calls to action that will inspire, rather than repel, potential customers.)
- Helpful content: This is the best marketing advice that no one wants to hear. Publishing content, whether it is writing blog posts, developing white papers or filming video, requires confidence and determination. Selling is about trust, and nothing builds trust like helpful content or conversations. Businesses that publish informative, relevant content on a regular basis will be seen as more trustworthy than business that don’t.
- Lead magnets: In addition to regularly published content, consider offering valuable, evergreen content behind a form. Think about it: e-commerce sites offer deals and discounts to entice visitors to buy. SaaS-based companies offer free trials. For B2B businesses, common lead magnets are guides, reports, toolkits or savings calculators.
- Conversion-focused design: If you want leads from your website, you should design it with that in mind. Consider forms with bright colors, large, legible type and as few fields as possible.
- Tracking and analytics: A major benefit to digital tools is the ability to see what prospects do while they are on your website. Your sales team can use this information to be prepared for the call ahead of time, and plan their conversation around the features or topics they know the prospect is already interested in.
Even if your website isn’t meant to generate sales, a well-designed, conversion-focused website can bring your customers a lot closer to purchasing while providing a steady stream of leads for your sales team.