Working in a retail financing operation a couple of decades ago, I got to know good salespeople in many businesses, from carpets to cars. Each of them had his or her style, but all of them knew and used the familiar techniques of leading the customer down the “road to the sale” and making a simple statement that closed the deal.
The not-so-great sellers knew all the techniques, too. They tried their best but eventually moved on to other careers.
What was the difference?
The successful ones cared about their customers. After talking with their potential buyers, they could tell you what kind of work the buyers did, where their kids went to school, and what their hobbies were. More importantly, they knew what problem the customer was trying to solve and what he or she feared about making the wrong decision.
The unsuccessful ones nattered on about how great their products were and what a great deal the customer could get if they only acted now.
I see the same dynamics play out on technology consulting websites. Some of them show in simple, direct language what the company does and give customers information about solutions they can use.
Others describe in bloated, convoluted, and often meaningless language how great the company is.
What do Website Visitors Want?
People visit B2B websites with two questions in mind.
Do you have a solution to my problem?
It’s not about you – it’s about your customer.
One of the car salespeople I knew closed a deal very quickly with a few words. By talking with the customer, Debbie knew he probably had concerns about paying for a car. She nailed it with two short sentences: “Let’s go over here. These cars are cheaper.”
Can I trust you?
You won’t gain trust with long paragraphs of techno-babble and lofty prose. The more complex your message, the more you sound like an unsuccessful used car salesman. Your message has to be clear and easy to understand.
You can answer both questions with simple, clear language. Try a technique I learned from Annabel Candy at Copyblogger and Steve Slaunwhite.
Steve is one of the most successful B2B writers in the business. When he does his writing, he imagines he is talking with his prospect sitting across from him in the room. Annabel suggests writing as though you were talking with a friend over lunch.
Give it a try. Chances are you will write in short sentences and use simple words – the kind of language web users read. If you still find the writing hard, try speaking it into a recorder and transcribing it.
Whichever way you use, you will learn that making a simple statement works far better than trying too hard to impress.