Marketing Microsoft

Need More Leads? Fix Your Web Site

Follow these seven tips to improve your company's online presence and ensure your prospects become customers.

No matter how your prospects originally learn about your company and its products or services, your Web site is now frequently the first place they go to learn more. And what they see, learn and experience when they get there will help them move forward with their consideration and buying process. Or it will scare them away.

In short, your Web site has become critical to your company's success in generating sales leads and closing sales—and needs to be treated accordingly.

Your prospects have many other choices available to them, including other Microsoft Partners, other hardware options and software applications. With the resources of the Internet at their fingertips, the prospects are now in control. They don't have to identify themselves unless they want to. If your prospects visit your Web site and it doesn't do its job, they leave and sales opportunities go with them.

By now, you're starting to see the absolute necessity for an exceptional Web site, one that helps move prospects from simple awareness to serious consideration. Your site should answer enough of your visitors' questions to keep your company from being prematurely disqualified from a short list of candidate companies. It should encourage prospects to identify themselves by responding to your offers. And it should make it easy for prospective customers to request additional information or contact from your sales representative.

So, you say, "How do I accomplish all of this with my Web site?" Here are seven recommendations.

1. Buy the book Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
It's a quick read, yet full of helpful hints and ideas to make your Web site easier to navigate. It even made me laugh out loud at times, something I've seldom experienced when reading a business book. It's available at most online bookstores or at Krug's Web site: www.sensible.com.

2. Be sure your Web site quickly makes it absolutely clear what your company does and for whom it does it
Most Microsoft Partners are pretty good at describing the products or services they provide and the applications they support. Most of their Web sites, however, fail to clearly describe the types and sizes of businesses or institutions they serve and the geography they cover. Be sure yours does, as your Web site visitors are trying to quickly figure out if your company is a good fit for them.

3. Clearly explain why your company is a better choice than the competition
Your prospective customers are trying to decide between your company and many others. Help them along in concluding that your company is their best choice.

4. Back up your claims
Everyone in this business claims to be great at what they do. Stand out by proving the claims you make on your Web site. If you're a Certified or Gold Microsoft Partner, say so. If your people have years of business and technical experience, and advanced certifications of their own, mention it. If your company has won awards from Microsoft or your clients, say so. List a sampling of clients and industries that you serve to prove that you already know a visitor's business.

5. Tell site visitors what it will be like once they become customers
Don't just explain your support and training resources. Salt and pepper your pages with testimonials from happy clients as proof that your customers really are satisfied.

6. Include lots of offers on every appropriate page of the site
This is the key to getting prospects to identify themselves and starting sales-winning relationships. Use multiple offers—each designed for different stages of your prospects' buying cycles. For example, offer such information as white papers or info kits for those just beginning the process. Offer checklists or Webinars for people further along in the buying process. And offer in-depth seminars, demos and on-site evaluations for those well into the buying process.

7. Make it easy for your prospective customers to take the next step
Make sure to list multiple ways to contact you (phone, e-mail, links to request forms and such) on every page of your Web site. Don't just bury it under a "contact us" link hidden in the margins.

And, finally, a bonus tip: Do your best to make most of the information discussed above available in the headlines, main body copy and menus of your home page, so prospective customers can't miss it.

About the Author

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh has been providing marketing and sales consulting services for Microsoft and many of its partners for more than seven years. More than 1,000 Microsoft Partners across the United States and Canada have attended his Marketing Boot Camps and Marketing for Leads (tm) live and Web seminars. You can contact Mac via www.sales-lead-experts.com.