Selling Microsoft

Web Wise on the Sales Side

Partner Web sites should be more than marketing vehicles -- they should be sales tools as well.

Partner Web sites should be more than marketing vehicles -- they should be sales tools as well.

At Acumen, we believe that a company's sales and marketing teams should always work together, communicating frequently to make sure their messaging is aligned. However, while many partners have invested significant amounts of money in creating Web sites that serve the marketing function of promoting a unique value proposition, many miss the sales side of the equation-that is, proving that messaging to prospective customers.

For that reason, we recommend that your salespeople actually take each prospect to visit your company's Web site at an appropriate time in the sales process. This is best done in a face-to-face sales call. In the case of a remote sales team, this could mean providing a video tour of the office or using client case studies or testimonials that reinforce your intended messaging.

An Interactive Experience
In one Acumen engagement with a Microsoft partner company where an ROI justification was used in most sales situations, we built the company's Web site visit into the sales process. On the fourth step of the eight-step process, the salesperson would "walk" the prospect through the Web site, helping the prospect complete an online questionnaire regarding a potential solution. The information entered by the prospect was automatically run through an Excel spreadsheet, which was then reviewed by the partner company's chief financial officer.

Next, the CFO would create a written analysis of the projected ROI. Then the salesperson would deliver the results to the prospect, discuss the potential ROI and review the value-proposition messaging. Finally, the salesperson would use the following statement as a closer: "I will work with you every quarter for the next two years to validate that these metrics will be achieved or to define what actions need to take place to ensure your ROI."

While the effort may sound extensive, the interactive experience on the Web site, combined with the extra input from the CFO, was intended to help bring the prospect closer to the company. Then the salesperson's stated commitment was designed to prove the company's marketing messaging, which, in turn, was likely to increase the prospect's trust and confidence in the organization. Additionally, whenever a prospect became a client, the salesperson had a built-in sales call scheduled every 90 days for the next two years.

Beyond Crossed Signals
Often, marketing teams develop great value propositions and other messaging for their companies' Web sites and other materials -- but the sales teams aren't trained to deliver those messages effectively. In fact, during many of our partner engagements, we find that salespeople can't accurately or clearly express their organizations' value propositions. We recommend that partner companies take steps to ensure that their salespeople can deliver the appropriate company messages by offering formal training that includes extensive role-playing exercises.

Bottom line: Your company's Web site should not only help all online visitors understand what your business does and invite them to investigate further, but also ensure that your selling process effectively proves your message. By linking your value proposition to the emotions that prospective clients go through during the sales process, then creating an interactive sales experience using your Web site, you can increase both your sales velocity and your win rates.

Check out Ken's blog, which includes regular updates and tips for motivating and measuring sales teams.

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].


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