Empathy Sells: How We Designed Sherpa’s New Website

Empathy Sells: How We Designed Sherpa’s New Website

In our first meeting with the team from Sherpa, we were blown away.

We saw – in the words they used, in their actions, in their products and even in their incredible workspace – one of the most mission-focused teams we had ever met.

The team from Sherpa had created a groundbreaking sales approach–anchored by their proprietary customer relationship management (CRM) software–for the senior living industry.

It’s all built around the unfortunately novel concept of treating prospects like people.

For sales teams at senior living communities, that means setting aside traditional volume-based sales tactics. Instead, the focus is about developing empathy and taking time to understand the decisions people make and why they make them.


Previous Sherpa Website on a Laptop

Sherpa’s previous website focused on the mission of the company, going all-in on empathy.

This philosophy is the cornerstone of the Sherpa culture. It also took center stage on their old website. Unfortunately, the marketing focus on empathy and understanding didn’t translate well into leads or sales.

Their approach also didn’t serve them well as they looked to evolve the company’s offerings, placing the CRM at the center of what they called a sales enablement platform.

That’s why they called us.


Getting to know each other

Over the course of several meetings (their offices are right across the street from Atomicdust HQ, so we met often, sometimes even impromptu) we learned about the brand and the team.

Sherpa and Atomicdust on Google Maps

We shared stories, we shared coffee. Our cultures meshed. As they went through the sometimes-hectic process of evolving their company and expanding their reach, we felt their pain.

That’s right, over the course of developing a site about empathy, we empathized with their team.

We strategized with their team on how to increase leads and conversions, with inspiration from Sherpa’s own philosophy—focusing on the prospect and their needs and goals.

It was always an interesting dance—we didn’t want to squelch Sherpa’s culture, not by a long shot. But we also couldn’t make the entire site about empathy and understanding. Instead, we needed to find a way to translate those characteristics into meaningful benefits.


Finding the right words

Something else we learned and came to appreciate about the Sherpa team: they know their business inside and out, so they were very particular. They knew when we wrote sample copy or called out benefits whether those were words or messages that would resonate.

Atomicdust team members discuss options for Sherpa's web design

Rich, Rosie and Erika discuss options for Sherpa’s website design. (This was pre-pandemic, when we were still working in the office. Check out Erika’s sweet scooter for her broken ankle.)

While they were accustomed to being the literal sherpa, leading their senior-living-community clients to stronger sales, we needed to turn the tables a bit and do the same for them.

It was quite a journey, as all good projects are. But it was made all the more enjoyable (and successful) because we had a client that was willing to embrace new language and new ideas.

We had several discussions about how their sales process works, why it works – and then translated it all into client benefits. Our goal was to give them a straightforward platform to show the power of their unique sales philosophy, to back it all up with testimonials and data-driven case studies… and then to set them up to close the sale.

The website map for the new Sherpa Website

Work in progress wireframes for Sherpa's website

We designed a sitemap that shows off the power of their unique sales philosophy, but in a way they never have. On the homepage and on every page of the site, it translates it all into clear, concise benefits.


Focusing on the people

While the main goal of the site was to support sales, it still needed to communicate Sherpa’s focus on empathy and building relationships.

New and old photos illustrate a prospect's life story on Sherpa's new website

Empathy is a big concept—the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, understand their perspective and relate to it. The design of the site had to convey empathy without being corny or overdramatic.

We decided to use imagery to help the site’s viewers understand Sherpa’s approach and get an immediate sense of empathy.

Photos from Atomicdust's photo shoot of Sherpa's team at their office

We built “life stories” using stock photos of senior living prospects to underscore their humanity and the impact of these very personal decisions, and combined them with original photography from a photo shoot we did at Sherpa’s office. The authentic photos of their team and space bring an added level of trust.


Building on a strong foundation

Sherpa’s founders are natural marketers in a lot of ways. When we first met with them, they had an established voice and aesthetic for the brand. And they were already doing a lot of things really well – including a strong thought leadership pipeline of blog content, seminars and more.

This gave us a lot to work with as we started to build the site.

Sherpa's thought leadership includes blog posts and webinars


Answering the important questions

We believe a clear, concise statement of what you do and for whom – followed by supporting messages that show why and how it matters – are the best way to start a B2B sales pitch. So that’s what we did for Sherpa.

The homepage of Sherpa's website design on a laptop

As you can see on the homepage, while the personal, empathetic approach is still very much in evidence – it plays second fiddle to clarity and benefits.

The homepage serves as a map for the rest of the site, leading visitors through an overview of Sherpa’s key products, emphasizing key benefits, and backing it all up with statistics and social proof.

Benefits of the Sherpa sales enablement platform on the website's homepage

There’s a refreshing level of beauty in the clarity of the Sherpa site. On each page, features are translated into benefits – alongside a combination of original and stock photos.

The core message for community sales directors and owners? These are real people working hard every day to help you increase sales. People who know your business, understand the challenges you face, and have the solutions you need.

Pages of Sherpa's website design


Did we mention we met… a lot?

Ah, neighbors. While we didn’t pop over just to borrow a cup of sugar, it was great working with folks right across the street.

Over the months, we really bonded with the Sherpa team, connecting over meetings both short and long as we crafted a new site and the company evolved around it.

There’s nothing more exciting than working with growing companies like Sherpa, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for them. Check out their new website and follow along.





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Rich Heend

Rich Heend

Rich Heend is a senior copywriter for Atomicdust, helping us develop engaging websites, print materials and, as you can see, the occasional blog post. Basically, he reads and rights writes for us. (Oh, and he edits too.)

More posts by Rich Heend