Today, I got notification of an industry acquisition and decided I’d check out the company being acquired. Excited to see what this company may bring to the OEM who purchased it, I clicked on their website.
It was all right. Looks like every other Managed IT company out there with stock images of servers and business people staring back at you with serious looks on their faces. Nothing fancy, but it got the point across. I noticed a pop up in the bottom right corner asking if I could identify with one of two questions.
Ok, you have me intrigued. I’ll check out how to improve cybersecurity!
Expecting a landing page offering information about how I can, in fact, improve cybersecurity, I click and am met with a general page about managed IT services offered by this company.
That's NOT what I was looking for. Worse, it’s a brochure-type page with very little relevant information. It's more of a list of what is offered. No insight or education to help me in my buying process. And I’m still looking for the cybersecurity information promised to me on that homepage pop up -- you know, the reason I clicked in the first place.
Would you have your sales reps book a meeting with a potential customer to discuss their network security needs and then start the meeting talking about copiers? That's what this website did. It got me intrigued to learn more about a topic I'm interested in and then didn't deliver.
What if your sales reps only sat across from a prospect and spewed out a list of what your company’s service includes? That’s not solutions-based selling (and I know for a fact most managed IT and copier dealers train their people on solutions-based selling. I worked inside a dealership… and as the marketer, I went through the sales training). A good rep will focus on the prospect’s pain and recommend a solution addressing their issue with the service the company provides. Your potential customer's online experience needs to match as closely as possible that in-person experience. You spend thousands on training reps on sales processes like SPI, Sandler, and countless others. Then you spend hundreds of dollars (if that) on the sales rep who never sleeps (your website).
Over 70% of the buyer’s journey happens online. Why doesn’t your website reflect the methodology your sales reps practice? You train them to be solutions-oriented, then you have a brochure-based sales slick as a website. Mixed message for your prospects, don’t you think? But let’s move on.
Once I’ve skimmed this brochure-ish website page, I find a call-to-action button offering a whitepaper. Sweet! Let’s give this a go and see if we get some good information. Again, still looking for ANYTHING that has to do with cybersecurity (the original promise and why I clicked). I remain hopeful, but this is more difficult and time-consuming than it should be.
So, I click on the FREE DOWNLOAD Managed IT Services Whitepaper button. I know I’ll be asked for my email address. That's OK; I’m researching and need info. This seems like something that is worth sharing my email address for. Oh and look - they have a checkmark in the box to automatically subscribe me to their email notifications. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they have some educational material in there and don’t just blast me with news all about them.
With my fingers crossed to finally get information about cybersecurity, I enter my email address and …..
...I get a PDF brochure about their services. NOT a white paper, a PDF brochure. My email represents my attention -- a precious commodity these days. They no longer have it by breaking the promise of providing me with a whitepaper in exchange for my email.
At this point, I'm pissed. All but the most persistent customers won't even have gotten as far as I did. After the first click, their trust would have been broken and they'd be moving on in search of cybersecurity information from their competitor.
Let’s look at Wikipedia’s definition of a whitepaper. “A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision."
Well, what I received in exchange for my email address was certainly NOT an authoritative report or guide. It was a piece of sales collateral. There is no value to me, the prospect, who started out trying to learn about improving my cybersecurity.
This is a HUGE disconnect and an overall poor experience for a prospect. Your digital first impression is often the only chance you'll get to interest someone in your company and services.
Customers are searching Google and YouTube for educational information to help them make a decision or find the solution to a problem (aka “the pain”).
Nearly every purchase begins online -- 94% of B2B purchases begin with a search in Google and a visit to a website. Will they stay on yours? Would you be patient enough to keep trying to find information from the company I had a (bad) experience with?
The buying process begins online. It starts with pain -- just like how your reps start their sales process. If you know what your prospect’s pain is, plaster it on your website, offer helpful information on how to solve that pain, and you will build up your credibility. Prospects buy from people they know, like, and trust. Not a company that does the old bait and switch.
Let me conclude by asking you a simple question: Look at your website; would you buy from you?