dog on a computerIt happens all too often. A business owner has a website that does absolutely nothing for their business. The site might look nice and the site might even link to all the latest 2.0 but the truth is the site for whatever reason does not reflect the actual needs of the business nor does their site in any way address their digital sales process. The tail wagging the website!

Recently I sat down with someone who had a very big store as their home page. They offered up a million different flavors of their various different “widgets” all available for purchase on their site. I have to say given the scope of how much they offered I was impressed – walking in as a stranger to their business the storefront felt substantial. But this business owner was also in an extremely competitive market.

As we got to talking about how the website was performing for the business and the digital sales process for this business the owner expressed frustration as he said his site does not really generate any sales. He explained the way his business was structured it was actually very challenging to complete a purchase as the specific nature of his business made it almost always necessary to have a follow up phone call. He went on to explain to me that most people hire his firm not only to deliver a product but even more so because his business provides expertise in terms of what would be the best thing for someone to buy. He even went further and expressed frustration at the fact that when he initiated a call based on a potential lead from his site often times he could not even get the other person on the phone. In fact it is from these in person/on the phone sales consultations that he was able to build his business into the success that it currently is.

I then asked how come nowhere on the website does it say that his business offered expert consultations as a part of the purchase price? This was followed by a long pause… I could see the business owner processing this information as he was trying to go through not only the user experience but also trying to process how he could best deliver on a good outcome for both his business and his visitors given his own understanding of his business.

The business owner went on to explain that the site was created courtesy of a trade association he is a member of and clearly he was taking it for granted that people would just “know better”. In fact the way he site was constructed it was very clear that this was a site built to encourage people NOT to call but rather to utilize the online store to figure it out on their own.

His website had a critical failure in terms of encouraging his site visitors to take the next critical step in his sales process.

His process of building the website had an even bigger failure as he went for the easiest path that presented itself without really thinking through what the real life experience was when he worked with real life clients rather than hypothetical “buyers”.

It was great to watch the business owner process the information and to slowly see a great big smile come across his face. This simple insight has the potential to deliver not only leads but leads that can eventually convert into some of his best customers – he wanted people to call him but he was not providing his visitors with any reason to actually do so – the reason being that he is expert at talking with them and helping them to get the maximum value from his overall service.  Now that this issue has been identified the business owner is in a much better position to begin to work towards a solution instead of continuing to express exasperation over the performance of his site.

Classic example of the tail wagging the website.

Unfortunately this is all to often the experience of business owners when it comes to the web, and as a digital business consultant I see scenarios like this on many occasions. As a business owner there are a million different “things” you need to stay on top of ranging from the mundane (paying the electric bill) to very high level issues such as managing your staff and purchasing good. By the time you “get around” to your website, the supporting digital assets (social media, email marketing) and their digital sales process, all to often a business owner is of the mindset of “just get it done” which in my experience has been a wonderful recipe for “the tail wagging the website.” A website that just “is” rather than a website that “does.”

The first step in stopping the tail from wagging your website is to recognize and diagnose the problem.  From there a business owner can begin to craft more effective ways to address the issue – sometime the fixes are small and other times a fix might require more effort.  Regardless of the work required to “fix” an issue, as a business owner you will likely find yourself considerably more motivated once you are hyper aware of “the tail wagging your website.” It does not take a great leap to see how addressing and solving your “tail wagging” issues will have an impact on your bottom line.

If you are looking for a digital business consultant to help you through this process please feel free to get in touch.