Why Professional Services Websites Fail at Selling

February 26, 2015

I love that our work affords us access to lots of smart and charismatic leaders. They have great depth of knowledge, are experts in their field, and are fascinating to engage in conversation. Partnering with them is an incredibly enriching experience.

Often these leaders are engaged in helping their organization sell or promote services, and they’re good at it – in person. During the course of a conversation, these dynamic experts can be “all things” to prospective customers and quickly build rapport with pinpoint application of their knowledge. This interaction helps prospective customers immediately grasp the value this expert and their organization’s offer.

The Temptation of Professional Services Websites

The problem is communicating the sales message on the corporate website. These experts are tempted to use the same in-person messaging or conversational approach believing that if it works in person, it will work on the web. However, the message typically doesn’t resonate across mediums and ultimately falls flat.

Content written for the web is inherently different from an in-person interaction because it is missing the nuance, dynamism, and progression of a conversation. Elevator pitches that work well face-to-face often miss the mark on a website, and while telling the right details to the right person and the right time is easy in person, it’s quite difficult on the web.

Move the Goal Posts: Get More Conversations

How do we help company websites communicate just like their experts? We don’t. We change the rules. We tell our customers the point of the website is not to replace (or replicate) your experts, but rather to entice prospects and generate more of the conversations the experts already love having.

Here are a few ways to move up the funnel and help get more conversations for your experts:

  • Come up with 1 (maybe 2) ways of framing your services: It is important to frame your services or methodology simply and memorably. This framework should be presented visually and the steps should be woven into all of the content. For example, case studies should be fit (and retro-fit if necessary) into the methodology so that each case study narrative reinforces your methodology.
  • Comparison tables or service matrix: Allow users to see products or offerings side by side. Comparison is a powerful method for learning and building knowledge.
  • Visuals are content: On the page, use visuals to tell the story. Visuals are content, not decoration. If you are selling in-person consulting, show this in an authentic way with real consultants.
  • Keep content short: This recommendation is not easy for experts, but web content must be kept short. The point of the webpage is not to be exhaustive, but to hook users to get them to take the next step.
  • Think about the question (Part 1): What would your potential customer type into Google? Write your page to answer this question.
  • Think about the question (Part 2): What do customers ask consultants or the sales team before buying? Answer these questions in a page or FAQ.

The Takeaway for Professional Services Websites

Organizations that rely on experts to sell must understand the website is simply a tool meant to open doors that get their experts into more conversations. The website must build a level of awareness and understanding that results in a new customer reaching out to the organization, so the organization can then play to its strengths and engage in an in-person conversation.

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