Critical Analysis: One Big Selling Mistake That Websites Make

Always be Closing! Alec Baldwin the GOD!
Always be closing. This one-sided method of sales thinking doesn’t translate quite as well to the online world.


Well? What helps a website sell?

When it comes right down to it, most of us browse company websites, call, email, and contact sales to solve a need. When it comes down to designing and writing for a website that’s actively selling products/services, it’s handy to break it down to the basics and think of what makes for a great salesperson.

  • A bad salesperson will miss the aim of the requirements and propose something that is not compelling, with a generic pitch, and doesn’t hit customer needs. The bad salesperson is focused selling, selling, selling with little regard to what brought the customer in the door in the first place.
  • A good salesperson will listen to needs and then offer a solution that meets these needs.
  • A great salesperson listens to customer needs, uncovers more, and builds solutions that matches what the customer stated they need, as well as what was found and confirmed as other needs.

The whole point is to not push a product or service that doesn’t have an explicit or uncovered need behind it. Salespeople have a bad rap because so many of them commit the selling mistake of being internally focused on their products/services, instead of externally focusing on the problems that these products solve and whether their customers think these problems are worth solving. Websites are similar in that you don’t want to push the wrong things to the wrong customer, and you definitely don’t want to push too many things either – it’s even easier to hit the back button your browser than it is to brush off a pushy salesman.

There’s no harm in trying new things on my website, right?

True, but there is the potential for harm. If you go to a website looking for ‘A’ and instead get pushed to buy ‘B’ through ‘Z’, how confident are you that the company is really great at ‘A’? Customers know that you can’t be the best at everything, so pushing too many solutions for un-stated needs runs the risk of reducing the customer’s perception of your expertise at the problem they came in to solve.

Similarly, pushing a mountain of features for a product when a client just needs a few introduces customer worries of over-complexity and price-sensitivity.

But, *I* want to sell or do this to the customer on my website….

Probably one of the worst things you can do is wax poetic about your company without relating to capacity to solve the customers stated and uncovered problems. If I wanted an origins story, I’d go watch a movie like the Avengers. If I’m in a business meeting or on a website researching, I want to know about your solutions and your capacity to deliver on them. Great websites let users navigate by need and make it easy for them to get to a page that has all the capacity and solution detail needed to get them to take the next step.

One thing a salesperson can do very easily that a website can’t is change the pitch based on what the client cares about. So when we’re picking how we pitch or develop USP (Unique Selling Propositions), for the product, we need to perform some research to determine how to bundle or deploy pitches in a way that makes sense. For some companies, long pages that start out easy and get more in-depth as you scroll down work well. Others use tabs, accordions (collapsible menus) and other techniques to hide and show details based on what the customer wants to read about.

Smartly Upselling

Upselling on a website makes a lot of sense but the crucial point is that it must be done right time, right place while using the most information. Amazon does a killer job of upselling because it pitches extras at the right time and with lots of information to backup its choices. Widgets, banners, and pitches shouldn’t confuse a buyer and cause paralysis by analysis, they should be no-brainer add-ons. Don’t pitch insurance and warranty until I’ve added a product to my cart.

Hopefully this post has succeeded in having you critically analyze the way you sell on your website – let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


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