They hated our website. We launched it anyway.

In late October, we sent a preview link of our new website to a trusted group of twenty advisors. They were friends and family of our leadership team, investors and clients. Smart people. Accomplished business leaders. All of them.

The note was sent by the CEO and had a decidedly friendly tone. We simply referenced our relationship and mentioned that we would value any feedback they could give us on our soon-to-launch website.

Within a week, we received 11 responses.

While we weren’t fishing for compliments, we expected some level of warmth. After all, we had a personal relationship with each person that received the note. The responses we received were akin to that brutal honesty that only a best friend can deliver. We’ve all been on the receiving end of this kind of unfiltered, but ultimately loving advice (i.e. “Yes, that shirt does make you look fat” or “No, I don’t think that she’s ‘the one’ for you.”) Hearing this kind of feedback stings, but you need to hear it and ultimately you are humbled that someone would care enough to shoot you straight.

The closest thing we received to a positive response was, “It’s not terrible.” Aww. I’m blushing.

No one was impolite, per se, but there were three recurring themes.

  • You forgot to devote a section to your products! A website is your best sales tool. I wouldn’t buy a car that I couldn’t see a picture of first. You have a great product. Show it on every page.

  • You took most of the other information about your company out of the site too. You have a cool story. Tell it!

  • What the hell are you doing with your FAQ page?!? Nobody will read it, but you need to tone it down anyway. You can’t be rude to a sales prospect and you are going to alienate future employees.

We probably expected some of that.

We are so appreciative that we have loyal advisors who genuinely care about our success. We know that they don’t have time to give responses that are going to be ignored. They need to know that we seriously considered every word that they said.

In the end, however, we ran the other way. Not only did we buy that unflattering shirt, we bought the whole rack. We didn’t just keep seeing that wrong person, we got married. Prenup? Forget about it.

We launched without making a single edit. Here’s why:

Not only is piLYTIX a developer of sales technology, but we are also voracious consumers of other sales technologies. As such, we are bombarded with sales pitches on a daily basis. While we can empathize with the difficulty of attracting an audience, we simply don’t have time to listen to every pitch.

In holding the mirror to ourselves and examining our own purchase habits, we recognized that we buy from companies that focus more intently on our challenges than their solutions. We have typically done some level of homework on vendors before we ever interact with their sales teams. The companies whose products we purchased always understood our challenges. Their sales people, marketing collateral and websites all spoke directly to these challenges. Conversely, we found that we have wasted entirely too much time listening to sales pitches from other companies whose products were ultimately viewed as “nice to haves” but not “need to haves.”

Just like other companies wasted a lot of time selling mismatched product to us, we have also wasted too much of our own time selling to the wrong audience.

So instead of talking about ourselves, we devoted most of our relatively minimalist website to talking about our clients. We talk about their challenges. We talk about their industries. We talk about other unique traits that make their challenges hard to solve. Not in our words, but in theirs. We also proactively answer questions that come up on nearly every sales call. Instead of tiptoeing around the answers with typical marketing speak, we simply answer the questions in the bluntly honest language that we use amongst our own colleagues when clients and sales prospects are not in the room. Our basic belief is that if we have to avoid the truth with a sales prospect, we will probably have a painfully difficult time serving them as clients.

We don’t agree with the advisors who believe that our website is our best sales tool. With sincerest respect to the advisor told us that she wouldn’t buy a car without seeing a visual, we are not selling a commoditized consumer product to a mass audience. We are selling complex solutions to very specific buyers. We typically speak to no fewer than 5 people representing different stakeholders groups in deals that we win. We believe it to be a fool’s errand to build a website that attempts to speak to all of their individual concerns. That is why we pay our talented sales reps, who we believe to be our most valuable sales assets.

Quite simply, we want our website (www.pilytix.com) to start a discussion with the right audience.