How to persuade your boss to revamp the website – Part 3

Posted on 28/03/2011

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Make them feel it

Manage your pain book cover

Now that we’ve covered the symptoms of needing a new site and what you want your new website to look like, it’s time for the big one: persuading your boss. Everything we’ve covered so far has been to prepare you for this conversation.

By now you’ll have a strong argument for updating your website, so all that’s left is to convey this to your boss. Here are a few ideas on how to go about the meeting:

Start with questions

Try opening the meeting by asking them their opinion on the site. What do they like about it and where could it be improved? Without posing leading questions, find out what they’ve heard clients say about it. Have they had any compliments about it recently? This would be a clear indicator that clients like what they see. If there’s been no feedback, then you could definitely be trying harder to impress them.

Do they know how much people use it? Most importantly, how much new business can be attributed to it? If the answer’s none (and it probably is) then the company is ignoring an important source of new business. At the very least they need some simple analytics tool in place to give them an idea of how much traffic the site receives, where people are clicking and whether they’re returning. If you achieve nothing else from your meeting, it should be this: this information will make your argument even stronger next time.

Outline the problem

The simplest way to make your argument is by outlining the problem (see part 1) and then offering the solution (part 2). You should have ample material to explain where you need to improve the site, but don’t forget to highlight what it does well. It won’t have survived this long without helping your business in some way, even if it was just to mark out your territory online. Try to be as objective as possible and be diplomatic with your criticism- you don’t want to irritate anyone, especially whoever manages the site.

Competitors can be a great motivator. Do the same with your competitors and show the strengths and weaknesses of the competitor’s sites. Again, be as objective as possible: miss out your main competitor because their site isn’t up to scratch and you’ll come across as having a hidden agenda. Just make sure that on the whole the competitors sites look better than yours. If your site really does need updating, you shouldn’t have to worry about this.

Usability and brand experience

User manual for the human experience book coverTry performing a task on the website. Imagine your boss is a potential customer and get them to find something out or make a purchase. Get them to think out loud and follow their instructions you’ll be replicating how a customer might use the site. If your website’s failing because it’s hard to use, this should prove your point for you.

Nonetheless beware – if your boss is familiar with the website your argument falls flat. Only do this when you know for certain that the site doesn’t work (glitches and misleading navigation). For everything else, imagine that you (not your boss) are the customer and describe your thought process. Show them how unintuitive the site is and how many wrong turns you have to make. Once you’ve done this, go to another site that does it better. You have just made your point and shown that there’s an alternative.

The solution

Now you know what you want, quickly explain what you could do with the new website. You don’t need to cover everything you think the site should have – focus on the main sections and the bits that are most inspiring. If your boss likes visuals, show them examples of fantastic looking websites, if they like grand ideas choose something inspirational; if they like efficiency, pick something clean and simple that works.

how to get more out of sex book coverThe one thing that will sell all these upgrades to your boss, is the return each one will generate. There are hundreds of possible “nice to haves” that could decorate your website, but at this stage it pays to focus on the essentials. Concentrate on how will each feature generate new leads, and your recommendation will appear as an investment, not a cost.

Motivate them to act

By this point you’ve made a strong argument as to why and how the website needs updating. Even so, this alone might not be enough to persuade your boss to act. There are three more factors that can help sway the argument in your favour:

  1. An upcoming opportunity (e.g. conference, sales kick-off)
  2. Losing business (prospects put off by your website)
  3. Competitors winning your business

1) Upcoming opportunities are a godsend but their timing is crucial. Imagine your company is going to a trade show to boost sales. If the show is in less than 2 months, it’s probably not enough notice to have a new website launched in time. If it’s in 6 months, it’s probably too far off to seem important. Anywhere in between and there’s a good chance you can use this as a reason to update your website sooner rather than later.

So how would that work? A website can support a sales event by maintaining the confidence of potential customers. They’re unlikely to visit the site during the event but afterwards it should reinforce the impression you mage there. If they liked you enough at the show to go home and visit your website, then it’s crucial you don’t lose them with a shoddy online presence. They might also be after more detail about your products and services, so having this information online (as a downloadable quick guide, a video or an interactive element) will reassure them you’re the right company and help make the sale.

2) The worst scenario would be that your website is actively losing you business. Sites that look unprofessional or are difficult to use can do this, but this is difficult to prove. Instead, show your boss the Save KEMP website that’s been set up by a local community to save their local park. It’s not enormous but it does exactly what it needs to: shares documents, presents an argument and shows supporters how they can help. It’s a lot better than many company websites I’ve seen, yet it was built and designed on goodwill alone. Now just imagine what you could do if you had a budget to fund a new website…

3) The last catalyst for a website change is if the competition does it better. So much better, that it could lose you business. For example, another company that’s doing something different or engaging with social media, can be challenge because it can generate large amounts of goodwill for the company. First impressions do count. A swish website with an interactive product demo won’t necessarily seal the deal, but if it sends the right message to customers it can be a major threat.

And finally…

If you’ve chosen to give a presentation, take a look at some of these presentations for some inspiration. They’re concise, sharp, funny and very persuasive. Be confident, be friendly, and good luck!

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