Ep018: How Your Website Should Help Your Selling

It seems so obvious, but it’s worth saying: your website is a critical sales tool. Do it the right way, and it’ll pay huge dividends. I’ll tell you the 6 key functions of a website for your consulting or professional services business.


Full Episode Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Liston.io Show. I, of course, am Liston and I want to help you build a better consulting business. Now, if you’ve been listening for awhile, you know I’ve been away a little bit, a conspicuous absence if you will. And the truth is, I’ve been on vacation with my wife. It was much needed and it was amazing. I’m happy to be back. If you aren’t a long time listener, forget everything I just said. Welcome, my name’s Liston, I’m glad you’re here.

In today’s episode I’m going to walk you through the purpose of a website from a sales perspective, as in, what’s the point and what does it have to do with selling. Before I get to that though, I do want to let you that if you go to liston.io/podcast you can leave a question for me there. It’s like a voicemail. You may even hear your voice on an upcoming episode. Maybe I’ll even dedicate the whole darn thing to you. That’s liston.io/podcast to ask a question.

If you are looking for strategic help with your selling, whether it’s for your agency or your professional services firm, or you’re a solo business owner and you want some help with your sales, with your lead generation, with basically, let’s be honest, getting and winning bigger clients, and better clients. I promise to give you at least 2.5 useful insights in a free strategy session. Those insights you’ll be able to apply immediately to your business. Okay, obviously it won’t actually be 2.5, that’s just an average, but I promise, it will be worth your time. All you have to do is go to liston.io/strategy to apply for a strategy call with me. It’ll take you just a couple of minutes, no big deal. I will let you know if we’re going to actually jump on the phone and talk and I’ll be there obviously to help your business. So that’s something you can do.

If you’re looking to follow up with every client confidently, and without being annoying, I do have a PDF that’s called The Five Essential Sales Email Templates Every Consultant Needs. So you’ll always know how to keep a sale moving forward without being annoying or coming off as desperate. Once you sign up for that free guide you’ll get instant access to those email templates. They’ll help you follow up with confidence, keep the sales conversation moving, and it’ll help you lead every sale from start to finish. All you have to do is go get it at liston.io/emailtemplates, that’s liston.io/emailtemplates. All one word.

Okay, let’s get into this, shall we? I recently worked with a good friend of mine named Rob Williams on redoing my homepage. I also had the help of Ashley Delaney and they both were super, super helpful and instrumental in redoing my homepage. While I went through that process, what I realized, in addition to going through the process myself, but talking to other people about their websites, is that there are some misconceptions about the purpose of a website. How it plays into selling and how you should kinda think about what your website can or should do for you. And also what it can’t do.

A lot of people think about websites as a thing that drives traffic to your business and leads and my response to that is, kind of, not really. What I mean is, you need a specific traffic strategy, as in how will people find your website. Now, you may be saying, well, if I write a bunch of articles on my website, Google will send me traffic and that may be true. But it also may not ever happen. So you should know that going in. You still need a specific strategy for Google to send you traffic. The website on its own, is not something that’s gonna generate a ton of business for you. It’s a link in the chain for your marketing and selling activities and before your website, comes your traffic strategy. Your website is what do you say and how do you convert people once they’re on that site. Your selling is what happens after.

You may be asking this, and you’re probably not, but just in case, occasionally people go, “Do I really need a website?” And my answer to that is, do you consider yourself a serious professional who takes your business seriously? If the answer is yes, then you need a website. I can elaborate on that more. Just go to liston.io/podcast if you have any questions about why I’m so adamant that you do need a website. I do think you do. So let’s just take that as a given.

In terms of what your website should do, as I though about this, and I have been thinking about this a lot lately, I’ll tell you more about this on my next monthly Monday. Update about my business, but I’ve been spending tons of time creating and scoping out my funnels and really spending time thinking about how will I create an experience for people start to finish to go through different aspects on my website, become educated, and ultimately at least book a call with me. But, obviously my goal is to get more people to do business and those that don’t help them in process.

As I’ve been thinking about all of those things, I’ve broken down, what is the point of a website into 6 categories. I’m sure this isn’t totally inclusive or I should say, exhaustive. However, it does cover a lot. I think for the purpose of a 25 minute podcast, it’s more than enough. I’m going to dive right in, but the last thing I wanna say is, this is written through the lens of how your website can help you from a sales perspective, or a selling perspective. So, know that going in.

Certainly this list isn’t exhaustive in everything that I know a website could do, but for most agencies, professional service providers, solo consultants, this is what I believe are the main functions of your website. Enough disclaimers, enough hedging, let’s get into it. Number one is to generate leads. Now, you’re slapping your forehead and you’re saying duh, and you’re saying, “Obvious, Liston. That’s why I have a website.” Well, what I mean when I say generate leads is, your website is to convert visitors into contacts. So people will be coming to your website, they’ll be viewing different pages, and you want some percentage of those to contact you. Ideally, obviously, the people who are in a position to work with you and have a burning problem and the time is right to talk to you now.

Those people you want to convert. The goal of your website though, if you are strictly selling your services or your expertise, is not to complete the sale on the website. You’re still gonna have to talk to people. If the website has a job, the primary job is to generate calls for you, or appointments, right? Form completions. People filling out your form, telling you about what it is that they want to do or achieve and you pick up that conversation with them. What you’re going to need in order to that is to have a really good contact/call page. So some people call it Contact us, some people call it a free strategy call, which is what I call it. Other people say Apply to Work With Us. Whatever you wanna say.

I do believe that one instrumental thing that you should include there is the value that you can deliver to the person on that call. So, if you’re just saying, “go fill out my form”, people rightly will view that as, oh this is going to be an excuse for this person just to sell me some stuff, right? If you tell them, here’s what we may cover in the call, here’s what you’ll get out if, here’s how I treat my calls, that will entice the person to actually go through with it because there’s gonna be a lot of hesitation at the moment that they’re on that page. I think what you’re gonna see is, maybe 10 or 20% of the people who hit your Contact Us page will actually fill out a form and contact you.

You wanna get as many of the right people to contact you as possible. Now, one thing I want to mention though, as a counter point that, is when you’re generating leads, you do want to make it a little bit difficult for people to get on the phone with you. The reason you want to do that, is you don’t wanna be spending time with people who aren’t really a fit to speak to you. Those people may be disqualified because of budget. They may be disqualified because they don’t match your ideal client profile based on their industry or their job title, or the size of their company, or whatever.

You are going to have to make a conscious decision about how strict you wanna be with letting in leads. Now, here’s what I’ll say. Unless you’re getting more leads than you can handle right now, I would err on the side of just talking to as many people as possible and then you will naturally get a much better sense of who you could or should be talking to and what you can do on those calls. So, before you have too many leads, err on the side of talking to more people. After you have too many leads, start to think about automation and adding some real friction and asking more hard hitting questions like, do you have X dollars in your budget to work with me? Something like that will help you start to qualify those leads.

Okay, another way that you can generate leads but not so directly is a piece of “gated content” so now the marketer in me is coming out. But what I mean by gated content is, it’s a transaction right? You’re asking for someone’s information in exchange for a valuable piece of content. So at the beginning of this podcast, I mentioned my 5 essential sales email templates every consultant needs. Again, you can go get that at liston.io/emailtemplates. Yes, I’m a shameless self promoter. But that would qualify as a download or a gated piece of content, right? So, I’m requiring, when you go to that page, for you to put in your email in order to get it.

Here’s what I’ll say about that. That required me to create a separate webpage for it, a landing page it’s called. I hooked up some email automation on the backend so once you download that, you’re gonna get some emails afterwards and it’s gonna connect the dots to the next thing that I want to happen. I would definitely err on the side of being less complicated and if you’re going to offer a download, it’s really only effective if you have some sort of ongoing communication. Whether that’s automated, or you’re picking it up and doing it manually or by hand or through your CRM or whatever. You need to have ongoing communication because the person who downloads that, very likely is not ready to talk to you now and may come to fruition in who knows how long. Usually what I see is people are on my email list for a few months before I talk to them. That’s very common.

Some people will go and fill it out right away. Fill out my contact form, that is. Right away, and skip downloading anything. But, I’d say it’s more common that people download something, they get my emails, they hear this podcast, they see me on LinkedIn, they see me on Facebook, wherever it is. Eventually they come around and say okay, now the timing is right. I wanna talk to Liston. So, having a download or a free thing is a powerful way to allow you to start building an email list and nurture people so that’s another way your website can help you generate leads.

Number one, generate leads. Number two, serve as a proof point. Your website, when people find me on LinkedIn, let’s say. They look me up, I’m messaging them, and if they’re interested in potentially talking to me, I know they go and look at my website first. My website is essentially a proof point for them. So, they’re definitely gonna wanna go and learn some things but let’s be honest, they’re not gonna read the whole darn thing word for word, right? They’re gonna want to just see, is this checking the box that Liston is a serious consultant. A serious person, does he have his shit together? More or less. That’s what they wanna know when they go to my website.

There are a couple ways that that’s communicated. One is through the design. What is that instant visual impression that someone gets when they go to your website? That’s pretty big, right? You may be asking, well what does the design on my website have to do with sales? Well, the thing is, people make judgements about other people very quickly. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, a picture is worth a thousand words. So when someone goes to a website, the visual design, the typography, the layout, the imagery, all of these things will contribute to an overall impression that someone has about you and your website and that’s going to happen within seconds of that visit. I do think that it needs to be good enough.

Another thing that communicates proof to people who visit your website, is, well, actual social proof. Do you have testimonials? Do you have videos of people talking about working with you? Do you have case studies or some sort of other information that third parties, people other than you, are lending their credibility and their proof that you are a credible person. So, all of those things go into building up your website as a proof point. So before someone talks to you, they’re definitely gonna want to know, are you serious? And the website’s going to help them make that determination. I’m also gonna get to this later, in a later section about sales enablement, but I’ll foreshadow for you.

Your website’s going to be especially important if you have multiple people involved in your sale and you don’t get to talk to all of them. Keep in mind that multiple people are going to be making judgements about you and your business and it’s important that your website leaves them with a very positive impression. That’s number two, serve as a proof point.

Number three, organize your most important information. Now obviously this all starts on the homepage, right? So when someone first lands on your website, they want to know what is this about? Who is this person? Or what is his business? What can they offer me? What do I need to know while I’m here? One thing that you should clarify immediately is the expensive problem or problems that you solve. Hat tip to Jonathan Stark for that term. But essentially, what is it, if you’re a consultant, or you’re a professional service provider, you’re providing your expertise to other businesses so what are those critical painful problems that you solve for them? You’re gonna wanna communicate that right away. But they’re also going to want to know things like what kinds of projects and services you take on. What have you done in the past?

I’m not a big fan, if you’re a designer or a copy righter of showing a portfolio. I’m a much bigger fan of showing case studies in that instance, simply because design, copy, creative decisions overall are so contextual to the problem they’re trying to solve and to the audience that they’re speaking to. You can still show case studies, right? I also think that articles and thought leadership that you can provide on your website will start to paint a picture for people about you, your world view, the way you view the problems that you solve, all those kinds of things will start to help people. I do recommend organizing the most important information. That’s gonna lend itself naturally to this next section. So, number three, organize your most important information.

Number four, provide sales enablement. So, related to organizing your most important information, the question I have for you is, what are the pieces of information that frequently come up in your sales conversations that your potential client wants? Is it, again, case studies? Is it something process oriented? Is it testimonials or is it maybe a white paper or a position paper on why you make certain decisions or why you approach things in a certain way. All of these things will help you educate your clients and your website can be a home for it. There’s all kinds of benefits that come with not jut giving a PDF to someone but sending them to your site because you can start to build a profile. Now, you should be GDPR compliant, but you can start to build a profile about the person and what pages their visiting and how often they’re coming to your website and all these kinds of things, right?

That’ll be really helpful for you in educating your clients. I do recommend going back to number three, organize your most important info, but related here, in number four, provide sales enablement. Make things easy to find. I do think that you should reserve your top navigation for those one, two, maybe three things that you want people to do when they visit your site. So you should really use the footer to organize all of the information that people might want. Don’t use the top navigation, use the footer for that. People know to do that and it really just declutters your top navigation and helps you with, number one, generating leads. So, that’s something you can think about.

Another thing about providing your sales enablement and how your website helps with sales enablement, is, it allows your champions in more complicated sales to educate others about what it is that you do and educate others about why they’re so excited about working with you. If you sell bigger projects, let’s say mid 5 figures, up to 6 figures plus, you’re typically going to have many people involved in that sale, right? It’s not gonna be a single decision maker, there’s going to be some sort of committee or panel, or maybe something less formal than that. But almost inevitably, there’s gonna be say, 3 to 7 or 8 people making a decision about who they’re going to hire.

Your website becomes really important because you’re not going to have a change to talk to all of those people directly and you’re going to be relying on, to some degree, you’re gonna try to take as much control as you can, but to some degree you’re gonna be relying on your champion, or your influencers in the sale to educate others about what it is that you do and your website is pretty critical for that, so make sure that everything that person would need is there. I would also suggest asking them, hey, influencer, hey champion, what types of information do other people on your team need to see in order to make a decision about working with me or someone like me? And they’ll probably tell you, right? And you can put together a quick guide for them to help them and make it easy for them to share that information and your website can help with that as well.

So that’s number four, provide sales enablement. Number five is retargeting and nurturing. Now, there’s all kinds of technology and I don’t wanna nerd out on marketing too much here, but I’ll nerd out a little bit. The reason I wanna do that is, you should be collecting data about people who visit your website so that you can re-target them on Facebook or through display advertising and some small percentage of them will actually take action and maybe go back to number one and become a lead. Or go back to number one and download something. So, because you own this property, your website, you also have the opportunity to communicate with the people who visit your website after they leave.

Another thing that you can do, and again GDPR compliance is something that you should work out on your own, but there’s some laws and policies around cookies and the type of data you collect and your privacy policies, so comply with that. But, do know that re-targeting is an option. Another thing that you can do depending on the technology you have installed, like I used Active Campaign. It allows me to show messages to people who have converted on my website and show them opportunities to get other things. So if they haven’t seen my webinar, it allows me to show them a message about getting my webinar. If they haven’t downloaded the 5 email templates, it allows me to show them a message about that, right? There’s all kinds of things that it allows me to do and nurture people kind of sequentially based on their previous behavior either on the site or even through my email list.

So, that is a big, big opportunity for you to do. So that’s number five. Re-targeting and nurturing. Number six of course isn’t going to apply to everybody, but for those of you who have things to sell that are seeing the one thousand dollar or less range, you can sell those through E-Commerce, right? There’s lots of different ways that you can power your E-Commerce store. You don’t have to build any tech obviously. You can use a platform that’ll do it for you. Whether it’s information products, or a book, or who knows what it is. But direct selling is another thing that you can do on your website. Again, I mentioned automation early on, if you’re doing any direct selling, let’s say you’re doing a course for a thousand dollars. You’re looking at your course as a way to generate more consulting leads, you’re gonna wanna hook that up obviously to your automation system.

But, direct selling is another option for your website and something to keep in mind because it’s always there for you. If you’re able to convert your consulting information and expertise into something that can be sold, and most importantly, is useful to a specific type of person, by all means, go sell it on your website. So that’s number six direct selling.

Just to recap, the key takeaways are, your website, yes it can drive business for you, but you need ways to get people to your website in the first place, and you need a strategy behind what happens once they get there. So to recap, the six major things that your website can do for you, number one, generate leads. Number two, serve as a proof point. Number three, organize your most important information. Number four, provide sales enablement to your visitors. Number five, re-target and nurture the people on your site and number six, of course direct selling and E-Commerce. So that is what I think a website should be doing for a consultant. For a solo consultant, for a consulting company, for a professional services firm, basically it doesn’t matter. If you’re selling your expertise that’s what I think it should be doing for you.

I do hope that this was extremely helpful and I also hope you have a fantastic day.

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Liston Witherill

Hi, I’m Liston. I help freelancers and consultants sell with confidence. My vision is for every freelancer, consultant, and agency owner to sell with confidence.