Unlocking the Power of Your Digital Real Estate for Unmatched Business Growth
My mom taught me never to point fingers, so I won’t. Still, if you’re a business owner or business leader who sees their website as “marketing’s problem,” “a brochure,” or “just a necessary business cost,” then you’re probably doing it wrong. You should adapt a website as asset, mental model.
I get it. Business is complex, and there are always a million things to concern yourself with: sales, operations, competition, inflation, sales, etc. In that context, websites and customer experiences take a back seat- on a very long bus.
This is entirely rational, well, sort of. What if I told you your website is one of the few things in your business you can value in real time? What if you could know which of your prospects visited your site, what they did while they were there, and where they went after leaving?
By comparison, your best salesperson (ignoring your worst) doesn’t teach the business anything as they work their magic. Sure, they add much immediate value. I’ll never speak ill of a great salesperson, but about 95% of the value a good salesperson brings to your business leaves with them.
No amount of non-competes, non-solicitation clauses, or good relationships can get around that fact. Your website can’t break your business. Well, not intentionally. Is sales turnover not an issue for your business? Really? Consider yourself lucky because sales turnover rates are as high as 35% these days, so it’s fair to say that you’ll lose at least one-third of your sales force in the coming year.
Let’s take the sales team out of the equation for a second and take this back to the customer:
I could do this all day, but here’s the big picture. Many business opportunities can and would prefer to find you when they are in the market for your products and services. Is your website the best way to experience your product or service offering? If it isn’t, why not? Your website is likely the most visited point of contact in your buyer’s journey, and it’s also the one with the most measurable effective ROI. Why aren’t you managing it like the asset that it is?
The Shifting Paradigm: Website as Asset
The traditional view of the website, billboard, or brochure made much sense 25 years ago. There weren’t many people on the internet, and the cost of building a site was high relative to the value it could create because few people had the skills to create a website. We weren’t sure that the internet thing was going anywhere.
Some of us were convinced over time that we needed to be there. Still, we didn’t have time to dig into it, so we either outsourced to others who didn’t understand our business or assigned its upkeep and maintenance to team members who likely knew little more than we did.
That’s where it’s sat for many companies: knowing enough that you don’t know and outsourcing (external risk) or leaving it to an internal source that couldn’t possibly build it into the business asset it is (internal risk).
Find more statistics at Statista
This would probably be an okay strategy, but the world has hugely adopted the internet. 2 in 3 people are online daily. Talking, hanging out, sh*t posting something they don’t like and very often: searching for things. Google is visited 89.3 billion times per month. That averages out to about 11 searches a month for every human. Crazy, right?
You’re hopefully salivating at this number, but let me bring this home for you. Except for dialing for dollars (cold calling marathons), every path of your customer’s journey should either touch or steer toward your website.
Your website is no longer a brochure; it’s an asset and likely one of your most important ones. With the proper investment, you create a great first impression, expose customers to your brand, communicate your marketing message, qualify customers, deliver your offering, gain insights, get feedback, capture leads, deliver demos, deliver contracts, this list goes on, but let’s move on. There’s more ground to cover.
The Sales Potential of Your Website Asset
The most remarkable thing about computers is that they never sleep. That’s relevant in the sales context because one of the many jobs of the sales professional is disrupting a potential prospect’s attention long enough to divert it to some logical step in their sales processes.
Let me state this clearly: this job is hard, and we often attribute our personal feelings about being “sold” something to minimize or oversimplify this job. If a customer is sitting by his phone thinking about a problem you solve, answers the phone, and buys your product or service when you share your offering, sleep well; you’re dreaming. Moving someone from cold prospect to customer could take as many as 50 contacts in the real world. Geesh. Hats off to all sales professionals. 🎩
Ultimately, suppose you’re lucky enough to have a good salesperson or working on sales yourself. In that case, it’s essential to consider that our prospective customers are just as busy and adept at avoiding disruptions as your most skilled salesperson, especially if they aren’t in the market for your products.
If they are in the market, studies show they want to do their research before speaking to a salesperson. There’s debate on this research, but I think one thing is at least anecdotally true: most of us avail ourselves to research products and services before the purchase in our personal lives. It seems just as logical that buyers do at least the same research on business-critical purchases. That research will take place 24/7, and the only thing you do to influence them before they contact you is have a website that answers all or most of their questions (more about that in another article). How does your website meet their needs?
We should also consider you’re website’s ability to scale; your best salesperson can only effectively help one prospect at a time. This is not the case for your website. A well-designed site, built on good infrastructure with a good customer experience focus, can handle thousands of requests per second. If those things work, who cares if you can sell me a pen?
Building Trust and Credibility
So, here’s the question: would you take your newly hired salesperson, skip teaching him about your company, industry, products, services, etc., and then put him on a street corner branded with your logo to do this 24/7?
Assuming you’re getting traffic on your website (a separate discussion), that’s what you’re doing if you haven’t treated your website like an asset you’ve invested in. The intuitive thought is that if you haven’t invested in your business. Why should I?
Think of it this way: when you move to nice neighborhoods, one thing that’s immediately clear is that people have invested in their homes and communities. The leaves are raked. The gutters are clean, and the grass is cut. You are immediately struck by the realization that these people should be taken seriously. There’s a positive spill-over effect: their investments add value to your investments and make you more comfortable. You begin to trust that they are on the same page. Their attention to detail sets the tone for what you can expect from them.
Here are a few stats about this phenomenon:
These stats are consistent in my personal and professional experiences. I’m sure your experience using websites when buying products over the years is the same so that I won’t dwell.
Website As Asset: Leveraging Data and Analytics
One of the things websites offer over our sales team is actionable insights. Even your best salesperson probably sucks using the CRM (that’s just life), and most of the key takeaways about what happened with an account have to be filtered through a subjective sieve. Did we lose the deal because of pricing (always the case), or did we not properly step the client through what the first 90 days would like after the sale (more likely the case)?
Websites are a little better, at least for building pipeline; with the proper setup and tags (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, LinkedIn Insights, Meta Pixel, etc.), you can get a pretty good picture of who’s vising the site, what they are doing while they are there, where they go afterward.
Are they reading your white papers? Are they just looking for contact information, or are they genuinely interacting with your business with a serious buying intent? Your website can do amazing things in this area with the proper planning and implementation: 24/7 and completely scalable.
Another value add is that the data from a “data-designed” website will help you decide how things are going and what prospects are responding to. You can see in Google Analytics that your website visitors are arriving from visitor searches vs typing in your site URL directly.
Are people arriving from our email blast or social media? Are they staying and reading our content or leaving without going deeper than the homepage? You don’t get that data from most of your business efforts.
Imagine a world where you have this information and can improve your offerings daily or weekly. I’m not trying to sell you some techno Utopia; I’m just pointing out that there’s a lot of practical business leverage in making serious investments in this thing we tend to write off as a necessary evil.
A Competitive Edge in the Digital Landscape
The ineluctable fact of modern business is this: if there are 5 billion people online, unless your addressable target market is your backyard, you have competition in your space. Full stop. You may be doing business in the physical world and have geographic limitations to your competitive landscape. Still, unless that service area is the Mojave desert, someone is calling the same customer you are. Get over yourself.
The question is, how do you stack up to that competition? Have you tried to answer that question, or are you making assumptions? In my experience, this is one of the most unvalidated assumptions in business: everyone else is doing the same thing in my business. I can tell you from experience that’s rarely true, and if it is true, that makes it easy to differentiate and dominate- it sounds like a wrestling move, but it’s real.
You hear about “staying up to date with technology and trends” daily. I firmly believe in a disciplined information diet, so I’ll say this. If it’s important to know what’s going on in your industry or understand your customers, it’s essential to see how you can best engage with your customers and what technologies can help you. You don’t have to be a “techie”. Just be open to new ideas- your customers are. I promise you that.
One final note on competition: a little bit can go a long way in the digital world. We aren’t talking about millions of dollars or thousands of man-hours. We are talking about small projects with clear objectives iterated over a period with obvious ROI expectations. You know, like you treat your other investments.
Website As Asset Thinking: Investing
The way websites evolve or stagnate, depending on your perspective, plays a significant role in how companies threaten their websites. For most companies, it’s a capital expenditure: one hefty charge they allocate over the business’s life. In that sense, it’s a business cost and is treated that way. Like a good salesperson, I would argue that a well-done website is one of your business’s few direct revenue generators. It should be invested in the same ways.
If you are putting time into product and service training for your sales team, you should perfect your product and sales experience on your website. If you’re investing time and money into improving your sales effectively, you should be putting time and money into enhancing visibility and conversion rates for your web page. It’s a sales asset; treat it like one.
I have some ideas on measuring that investment over time, but this article is getting long in the tooth, so I’ll save it for another day.
Businesses are missing growth opportunities by ignoring a critical asset: their web presence. Here are my key points:
- Everyone is on the web; act like it.
- Websites are assets: they generate revenue, scale better than salespeople, and can be improved over time. Invest like it.
- Your website is always on and always telling your story. What is it saying?
- Your website is the centerpiece of any trust-building strategy; ensure it sends the right signals to your visitor.
- Your website can give you data to help you get better at selling. Use it
- Your website can give you a competitive advantage. Take it.
- Your website is a sales asset; leverage it.
I’m always interested in your thoughts. Please comment below.