Designing a B2B Website? Better Talk to Your Sales Team First
By Jason Michaels, Wire Stone
When designing a business-to-business (B2B) website, gathering input from an enterprise’s sales team can make the difference between a website that’s attractive but ineffective, and a site that is a finely tuned delivery system for the kind of information that converts prospects into customers.
Business-to-business websites that get it right zero in on providing an effective and efficient user experience, speaking directly to potential clients about how the brand addresses their business objectives, and letting the company’s current customers do the selling.
Achieving this is easier said than done, and executing correctly will require a keen knowledge of a company’s target markets, the digital behaviors of potential clients, the competitive industry landscape and other related factors. At the heart of it, delivering a Web experience that wins clients requires seeing things from their perspective and empathizing with their needs during the decision-making process. Solid relationships with existing customers, as well as honest takes on the reasoning of past prospects, who did not select the brand, can provide the perspective needed to show new clients why a particular approach is optimal.
More so even than marketing teams – who are likely already involved in any website design discussion – sales teams have a unique relationship and a special depth to their understanding of current and potential clients. The specific insights sales teams can offer are what make them a key voice to have in the room when discussing a B2B website design. Namely, veteran B2B sales people are able to look at the given brand and its competitors through the eyes of clients, something that designers, execs and even marketers can sometimes get wrong. They understand how potential clients digest vendor websites, the information they want provided and the level of detail they expect to see. Plus, sales teams know the questions that potential clients ask at each stage in the customer journey.
Research from Google and the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) indicates that customers are nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a representative, so salespeople (the good ones) have a keen understanding of their role - and the role of marketing - as part of customers’ self- and guided-evaluation. They know what answers to give, and can help determine where those answers belong on the website, whether in the flow of the landing page, offerings page, the About Us section or elsewhere. When the benefit of this input is leveraged correctly, potential clients are empowered to process a brand’s offerings efficiently and in a manner that speaks to their methods of evaluation, contributing to the feeling that a brand operates in sync with the client’s own business values.
The sales team is also familiar with holding two-way conversations with clients in a way marketing teams rarely do. A sales team has absorbed clients’ honest opinions and addressed issues throughout capabilities meetings, product demos, negotiations, implementations and product rollouts. The experience and knowledge a sales team holds is precisely the material that can address potential clients’ specific concerns and score points in their decision-making processes. Don’t miss the opportunity to transform that knowledge into website content, even using it to produce in-depth material such as webinars, whitepapers and blogs.
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Customer testimonials also have a powerful impact on the decision-making of potential clients, verifying the value a brand offers from an independent perspective.
In the end, a sales team owns the relationship with a company’s clients. The personal relationships a sales team nurtures with existing clients are a precious resource. Testimonials, requiring a high level of corporate sign-off, can be as complicated to secure as they are valuable. Aligning a sales team with Web content production efforts in order to achieve these influential testimonials makes for a prudent strategy.
Sales teams hold the wisdom it takes to help produce a successful B2B website. By seeing a brand as a client would, delivering meaningful content and leveraging existing relationships as testimonials, the sales team can help marketers and designers execute the kind of site that enables potential clients to thoroughly understand what they offer, and make vendor decisions favorable to both.
DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT NEWS OF NOTE:
Internet professionals never miss an emerging trend or new technique thanks to Website Magazine’s Design & Development Digest on the Web at wsm.co/desdevdigest
Google’s Cloud Trace, a tool that enables app developers to identify performance issues by displaying the latency distribution for an application, has entered the beta stage: wsm.co/googtrace
Cloud security concerns are on the rise, as Netskope reveals that just one in ten cloud apps are secure enough for use within the enterprise: wsm.co/cloudservhack
+ Zend Technologies:
The newest iteration of the PHP application server from Zend Technologies, which provides tools for deploying, monitoring and debugging PHP apps, has released a new version of their application platform for the AWS Marketplace: wsm.co/zendserveraws
+ Apache Spark:
Apache Spark, an open-source cluster computing framework, which is often used as an alternative to Hadoop’s two-stage disk-based MapReduce approach, is gaining adoption among developers looking for faster processing speeds: wsm.co/apachespark
Jason Michaels is the chief strategy officer at Wire Stone, an independent digital marketing agency for global Fortune 1000 brands.