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These online 'sins' are killing sales

Flickr user Eric Kilby

(MoneyWatch) Confession is good for a salesperson's soul. Is your website committing one of the selling deadly sins? If so, you are killing deals.

As promised in my previous post on Internet sins every business should avoid, here are 10 more online offenses to avoid at all costs.

1. No privacy policy. Are you in a confidential business? Then provide a clear privacy policy staring that you will never share contact or other personal information with other parties. But what if your business is not so confidential? Then by all means have a clear privacy policy. Oh, and by the way, keep that promise (This means you, Facebook.)

2. No legal disclaimer and copyright notice. For ideas on legal disclaimers, look in the front on any recently published business advice book. You will see language that says the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services and that the information is for educational purposes. And protect your intellectual property -- your site content and free resources -- by taking advantage of copyright laws. Post a standard copyright notice. Disclosure: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice; please seek proper legal advice before making any decisions. Get it?

3. Lacking focus-specific information. If you are a specialist in a certain industry, like health care or real estate, then there had better be health care or real estate information throughout the website. You don't want to look like a poser or a wannabe.

4. Leaving out news releases. The Internet is the top research tool for journalists today, so publish news releases, fact sheets, firm backgrounders, and longer executive biographies in a designated area. Make it easy for journalists to write nice things about you. Often, the easiest source to reach is the one that gets the positive press.

5. No public speaking. Are you in a service business or sell a high-end product -- something that costs thousands of dollars? Then list upcoming and past speaking engagements with industry and trade groups. This promotes your reputation as an expert and will also help you garner invitations for future speaking engagements.

6. Missing job postings. Hiring suggests growth, which in turn suggests success. Create positive, upbeat descriptions of the star talent your firm attracts (some clients will seek out this information to get a sense of who you really are).

7. Weak key employee bios. Companies don't do business with companies -- people do business with people. So who are your people? Keep employee bios short -- say, 50-100 words. Longer capsules belong in the news release section.

8. No client base. This can be tricky, but it's important. If it is appropriate in your field to list marquee clients, do so. If this is inappropriate, then describe the types of clients you work for in general terms (For instance, "A Fortune 500 manufacturer of paper and consumer Products").

9. Lacking up to date case studies. Our focus groups tell us that most prospective clients aren't particularly interested in case studies because they believe specific cases don't apply to them. A better approach is to use a study as the basis for doing a how-to article.

10. No referral mechanism. Your Web designer can easily include a feature that makes it simple for someone to refer your website to a friend or associate.

Let's be honest -- no website is perfect (yes, even my website, Remember, the purpose of the site is to let prospects check you out and then contact you. So on every page make it easy for potential customers to do just that.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eric Kilby

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