Turn your website into your best sales rep. Tell it to shut-up.

Many websites start off great: they have a clear goal, a slick design, and a big red button that says “Contact Us!”. But then the modifications start piling on:

We should tell them about Product X! And Y! And Z!
We need to have a calendar of events.
We don’t want to miss an opportunity. Let’s use more generic language to not focus on an industry.

What was once a clear and concise website becomes so stuffed that it might as well be a bulletin board in a university common area: filled with outdated information, each layer tacked on top of another until it becomes impossible to focus your eyes on a single message. There are too many events, too many features, too many audiences, too many products — and the cumulative effect is enough to leave the prospect confused, overwhelmed, and uncertain of what to click first or where to go next. 

So they leave for clearer pastures — those that don’t take so much work to digest.

Three over-messaging mistakes

Your website should be your best sales rep. It should clearly communicate who you are and how you help them. And then shut up (metaphorically speaking).

Too often websites are a bit like an overly desperate salesperson. They don’t stop talking. They over-message.

If you’re over-messaging on your website, here’s my advice: talk less. 

It’s not about you. It’s about their needs, so stop bloviating on your website. The last thing they need is to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you do.

Here are three common over-messaging mistakes you may be making: 

  1. Your website says too much. This creates cognitive load and can deter your prospect almost immediately (we’ll talk more about this later). 
  2. Your website doesn’t give priority to your best offer. Your website should convey the strongest offer you have as clearly as possible — everything else is secondary.
  3. Your website doesn’t meet them where they’re at. Visitors to your website don’t know where to start. There’s no clear on-ramp or clear path for learning more.

Let’s look at what you can do to address each of these common mistakes.

Eliminate cognitive overload

Your website will often be where your prospect forms their first impression about your business.

If you don’t have a clear value proposition, front and center, you’re missing perhaps the most important opportunity to shape what is sure to be a lasting impression. 

Websites cluttered with messages underperform because they overly tax the visitor with more questions than answers. That creates stress.

Our brains have a limited capacity for new information. According to neuroscientists, the average person’s working memory can generally hold between five and nine pieces of information at any one time. If the items held in working memory don’t encode into long-term memory, they fall off the radar, forgotten entirely as even more information becomes available and the brain must move on to process it. Every piece of new information is taxing.

Websites that are overloaded with information create cognitive overload. 

Your prospect hasn’t even bought from you yet. Why tax them like that?

Here are three things you can do to reduce that tax and make your website a better salesperson:

  1. Simplify your value proposition. Make sure your lead offering is so clear and concise, a prospect can’t help but click through to find out more. 
  2. Target the right audience. Don’t be everything to everyone — the most valuable customers are the ideal customer, not just anyone willing to buy from you. 
  3. Improve the user experience. Prospects who land on your page should find what they are looking for quickly, and they should easily be able to see the next step in the process of working with you. A good visual and navigation experience presents just enough information to engage, not overwhelm, your visitor.

Do those three things and you’ll make your website less taxing. But, let’s step it up a notch because if you really want your website to be your best sales rep, you have to make it focus on your most important offer. 

Prioritize your best offering

You may have a lot of products and services you can offer. But rarely are they of equal value to a prospect.

Yet, many companies make the mistake of giving equal visual and messaging weight to each one. That’s like having a sales rep fan through an old Sears catalog then ask  “Do you want anything?”

That may be good for browsing. But your prospect is not on your website to window shop. They’re there because they have a problem they want to solve or a goal they want to accomplish.

That’s why you need to define your lead offering and put it front and center. Subordinate your other offerings to the one that gets your ideal prospect going the fastest. A good lead offering will solve your prospect’s need, reinforce your brand promise, and make it easier to purchase your other offerings. 

Define that and you’ve suddenly amplified the clarity of the value you bring them.

Meet them where they are

I said it earlier. Your website should be your best sales rep.

Great sales reps do these things well:

  • They make it easy for a prospect to get what they need. 
  • They don’t assume every prospect is at the same starting point.
  • They anticipate what a prospect may need to know to advance the sale.

Your website needs to do the same.

And that’s impossible to do if you haven’t mapped out the steps a buyer goes through when considering whether or not to buy from you. Carefully constructed customer journeys are essential to construct messaging and visual hierarchy, streamlined navigation, educational assets and credibility proofs, and the calls-to-action you need to move the prospect forward in the buying experience.

But more than all that. One of the best ways to make your company stand out from your competitors is by having an exceptional customer experience. Your website is typically the first signal your prospect’s receive about the kind of the experience they can expect in working with you.

So, what signal are you giving? 

Are you over-messaging on your website? 

Here’s a way you can tell: 

Imagine your ideal prospect has stumbled upon your website through Google, social media, or any other channel. They have no prior knowledge of your company, all they have is what’s on your website.

What are their first impressions from their visit?

How quickly can they answer these questions:

  • What does this company do?
  • How will they be able to help me?
  • Am I their target audience? Would I be important to them?
  • How do I know they’re a safe bet?
  • What do they stand for? What’s their promise? What should I expect?

If they wouldn’t be able to get quick answers to those questions, your website is a seriously underperforming sales rep. And it’s time for an improvement plan.

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