How to convert the decision maker with your website

The conversion optimization playbook for B2B SaaS websites

Do you have a quick autonomous sales process?

Can users sign up, demo, start a free trial, integrate, pay, and become a customer without ever talking to a sales rep?

Or, do prospects have to talk to a sales rep before becoming a customer?

Do you have a lengthy sales and integration process?

This process is recommended for those B2B SaaS companies who have a sales process that requires a sales rep and do not allow for autonomous buying cycles.

Note: There are always outliers and exemptions to the rules. This process addresses the average behavior and expectations of your typical c-level.

This lets your marketing staff trust your website for the expected and spend their time targeting the exceptions and outliers with custom campaigns and unique landing pages.


What you need to know before you can target the C-Level persona

When targeting the C-Level, you actually need to target two groups of people.

You need to target the C-Level, obviously, but you also need to target the Team Leader your C-Level will bring in to help evaluate the tool.

The team leader is generally the person who will be using the tool day-to-day, ie. using the tool to achieve a C-Level goal.

For both of these individuals, they will be in either one of two states. Those who are actively looking and those who are passively looking.

(Those who are not looking at all aren’t “targeted” with your site – these are captured through your content marketing and other TOFU lead-gen efforts)

To create a high converting experience for both of these states, it’s helpful to run the strategic and creative process through a filter of questions.

Actively looking:

Switching and integrating a new solution is costly. It takes time and resources nobody likes to spend.

What pain is the prospect feeling that has convinced them it’s time to switch? (price, service, support, feature set, partner referral, re-platforming, new staff)

Passively looking:

Why are they looking at all? Their pain isn’t enough to make you a necessity, yet. But… it’s enough to get them browsing.

Are they unhappy with price, service, support, or their feature set?

Are they happy, but curious and/or experiencing a bit of FOMO?

What would it take (pain/incentive) for a passive onlooker to become actively motivated.

What needs to happen in their world for them to decide they do need to undergo the pain of switching tools?

No matter how committed your prospect might be, ALWAYS REMEMBER: People do not buy the best option.They buy the least risky option!

Identify the risks your prospects are trying to avoid? Is it basic trust, price, integration, legal, etc..

During your own sales process, what risks are preventing opportunities from becoming won deals?

The most important thing to keep in mind!!!

You’re NOT trying to sell your product with your website!

Your prospects can’t “buy” through your website.


They CAN buy the next-level of engagement. They CAN buy that demo request and sales rep call.

So, keep that in mind.

Your website’s job is to ultimately sell the meeting.

Give the prospect everything they’re going to need to decide whether or not that phone call and meeting are worth their time – or if they should call the other guys instead.

The meeting is where your product will be bought or not.

The most important thing to keep in mind!!!

The Jobs To Be Done framework – it’s fantastic for building out your content and site framework –

Josh Braun has a fantastic presentation on how to get out of your own way and actually become helpful to your prospects –

It’s all about making fireballs, not flowers.

sell fireballs not flowers

Just keep in mind, your fireballs need to hit their target in a valuable, helpful and meaningful way…

customers really want this

But, they still buy “this…”

people still by this so they can do that

Even though the awesome things are what matter, your prospects still need to buy the things.

Don’t forget to include the “things” in your fireballs

Have an honest gut check, or all this is for naught

Admit to yourself, you’re not the best fit for everybody.

Be willing to sacrifice the masses for the prospects that actually need you.

Commit to those you service exceedingly well.

Address their needs.

Focus on the job they’re trying to get done, and how you make that possible.


How to target the team leader

Your website can be built to individually target both the C-Level and the Team Lead.

Instead of being mutually exclusive. It’s actually necessary if you’re truly going to convert the C-Level.

You need to also target the Team Lead.

Here’s a quick visual example of how you can target both prospects without ignoring or isolating one over the other.

website layout targeting personas

Team lead buying role/cycle/intent

Whether the team lead has been introduced to your site through their C-Level or they found you on their own – their intent is the same.

Either the C-Level is asking the team lead for validation on your service being viable or the team leader is selling your solution to the C-level as something they need.

In either case, the team lead needs to know your tool is going to do the job they need it to do without making their life worse.

The order of operation doesn’t change what you need to do with your website.

Team leads have different concerns than the C-Level during the buying cycle, and their onsite behavior is equally different.

C-levels want bigger, better, faster numbers… and their job to be done is helping their teams to get and exceed those numbers.

Team leaders want tools that work. C-Levels request ( ie. demand ) those bigger numbers. Team leads want to get there without ruining their work life.

While the C-Level is quick and glances at the hero panels and headlines, the team leader has learned to gloss over these areas and dig deeper.

Team Leads have suffered with over promised and oversold solutions before. Adding another one to their list isn’t something they’re eager to do again.

Of course, if you can make their life better, which is their primary motivator, then you’re speaking their language.

The initial site engagement with a team lead needs to hit these trigger points

Team Leader: “I have my marching orders and goals from the C-levels. I have to meet my numbers. I’m not going to waste my or my teams time on another bunk solution.”

  • Do you do _______?
  • Do you integrate with _______?
  • What will your tool do for me? (What does it do out of the box ? How much work is this going to take to make it work the way I NEED it to?)
  • What can I do with it? (How can I make it work for me and my team? Is the tool going to limit us and force us into new processes we don’t like?)
  • How hard is it to use? (What’s the learning curve? Because I don’t have the time to learn a new tool… I’m too busy as it is and what I have now is “working well enough.”)
  • What does the tool look like? (I need to see it for myself.)
  • What does your documentation look like? (Yeah, yeah, yeah… your “marketing” sounds great, but I need the details.)
  • Etc…

Note: Point 1 and 2 are interchangeable in order of priority. If you don’t integrate with X and you don’t do Y, then whatever else you have to offer is irrelevant. These are the first blockers for any team lead.

With each question answered, the deeper the Team Leader goes.

You should build out far enough to let them dig as deep as they need to go, or at least make it easy for them to find their answers in a non-sales environment – chatbox, knowledge base, support forum, video library, etc…

Again, it’s all about trust and the reduction of risk.

Satisfy and calm their worries, and your sales staff will be in hog heaven.

Team lead site behavior

  • Visit URL shared by C-Level.
  • Home page hero and below fold.
  • Click feature or integration page.
  • Click feature page.
  • Click video / tutorial / support page.
  • Either completes CTA to initiate contact or green lights tool w/ C-level.

Team leads primary concerns are not who else uses the tool – they only care how it’s going to affect their day to day and if it will actually work and deliver on it’s promises.


How to target the C-Level

Rarely, if ever, are C-Levels involved with the day-to-day practical application of solving problems.

In other words, the problem your solution is meant to solve, they’re not the ones stuck in the grind of implementing and working out that problem – they’re not the ones who will be using your tool on a day-to-day basis.( unless your tool is a c-suite tool of course )

C-Levels view your solution through a different lens.

They’re in meetings all day, every day.

They’re talking about the problems their company has in relation to growth objectives and company goals.

Day in, and day out, they’re conditioned to think in terms of problems and how their teams can overcome those problems.

On top of that, they’re busy.

Not one of them has the time to dive in and get into the nuance of what makes your solution better than the other guys. It’s not worth their time to do so.

In other words, they don’t care about your feature deck. It’s not what they’re looking at.

When a C-Level is engaged, their onsite behavior looks a lot like this.

  • They land on the home page.
  • The home page hero panel hits them first.
  • They take a quick scroll down.
  • A quick scroll up.
  • They click on pricing. ( if it’s available )
  • They visit the feature page most relevant to their immediate need.
  • They pass your site off to their team lead.



If you don’t hook them right away, you won’t get a second chance.

If you get 3 page views and 1-2 minute onsite time for that first c-level interaction,

C-Level triggers

C-Levels are “hooked” by two primary triggers.

When I say “hooked” and “triggers” it’s a light way of saying – C-Levels have a job of their own they’re trying to do. “Triggers” are heuristic techniques that make it easier for C-Levels to “hook / engage” with stuff that matters to them.

Will it help my team?

Removing bottlenecks, increasing efficiency, generating a higher lead count, etc…

Is the solution legit or are they full of it?

Who have they worked with, and who trust/likes them?

What about stats/results?

C-Levels say stats matter to them, but in my experience, stats are commonly judged to be spurious and have very little to do with that initial hook.

Stats rarely motivate until trust is already established. Rarely, if ever, do stats inspire that trust.

When risk is involved, it’s just practical and safer to assume everyone is lying until proven otherwise.

Stats are more likely to cause doubt and demand proof that can rarely be satisfied on the personal level required to engender trust.

Stats do come into play as a supporting piece of content. They can help support and bolster that initial trust, but they’re not your hooks.

How to include the right triggers and what they look like

It’s really not that complicated. C-Levels need to know a few simple things right up front.

What do you do / who are you?

What value do you provide / how will I / my team be more awesome?

Are you for real?

But, what does that “actually” look like?

Make it CRYSTAL CLEAR what it is that you do.

Sounds too simple to mention.

Being so simple, the majority of SaaS companies forget it’s actually important, and fail to communicate what it is they actually do.

Nothing is clear. Nothing is helpful. The initial view is completely wasted and REQUIRES the user to dig deeper to get anything of value.

Can you figure out what problems any of these companies help solve?
(They’re all pretty big brands)

But to get it right, focus on the job the C-Level is trying to get done.

Their immediate problem.

Use their language – not their marketingese business language, but the language they’re using when talking in the office about why XYZ sucks.

For C-Levels, a quick trick is to use “team language.”

Yeah, I’m with you, it does sound a little too formulaic.


C-Levels eat “team” language up!

Simply because they spend their days talking about how they can get their teams to hit their numbers.

Use the “team” language when describing the value. As in, what their teams can do and the goals they can achieve with your solution.

Include as much validation as reasonable and relevant.

Showcase the most prestigious client logos you can muster that are relatable to your ideal demographic.

Also, include industry ratings, recognition badges, awards, and high profile reviews.

Here’s a few SaaS companies who are doing it right!

Note: the old addage of “too good to be true” is hard-wired into our subconscious. Every C-Level has been burned by false promises, so back up your validators with proof – link to the source / proof / explanation.


How a C-level will interact with your website

The typical C-Level prospect will engage with your website, initially, at a very high level.

Things to keep in mind about C-Levels and their intent.

First and foremost, C-Levels have a job to do and no time to waste on BS.

Every one of them has been burned in the past, and every one of them has sworn that they’ll never be burned again.
They will not sift through your superfluous meaningless “value-driven” marketing language to see if can solve their problem.

Its a waste of their time.They’re too busy for it.

Like, absurdly busy!

They have goals to achieve, yesterday, and “testing” the waters isn’t a consideration.

Waste their time. Beat around the bush. Ask them to do the work and figure it out for themselves…They’ll bounce!

The initial engagement with a C-Level and your website is pretty quick.

C-Level’s hit a few highlights, and then decide to pass further investigation along to a team leader or bail completely.

They’re not going to dig into your content.

They’re not going to piece together your solution to see if it fits.

They’re not going to do the work for you.

The name of the game is reducing the cognitive load for them.

You have to give them what they want where they subconsciously expect it, or you’re in trouble.  

A C-Level has a very specific list of qualifiers that must be satisfied:

  • Do you do _______?
  • My team and I have been talking about _____ being a problem. You caught my attention. I’m here. Am I wasting my time?
  • Perfect, you do ______.
  • But… are you any good at it?
  • Are you a good fit or am I too big/small?
  • What does it cost?

C-Levels move quick. Headlines, validators, and clear navigation is key.

page layout trickles through site flow

Initial page load view sets the tone.

Right off the bat, your C-Level needs to know they’re in the right place and they’re not wasting their time.

They need to know if you do “X”.

Can you solve their problem?

If they need a CRM, they need to know you’re a CRM solution, not a “top-rated customer experience platform.”

good vs bad hero copy

Ensure the language is hyper clear.

If you’re to err, err on the side of being obscenely boring and clear on what you do – then you can sell the exciting sexy value.

Make your content clear. Make it easy for them to know at a glance that you solve their problem.

Display your client roster logos. Let your C-Level prospect know they’re in good company.

Display your reviews, awards, and recognition badges. Show your prospect you’re not full of smoke and empty promises.

In a 1-2-3 punch that can be digested in less than than it takes them to bounce, you’ve instantly cleared your first 3 hurdles and given your c-level a reason to pay attention.

After the initial page view, rinse and repeat for all subsequent pages.


How to layout your website for the C-Level

what they say vs what they want

Just because it’s important to you, doesn’t mean it’s important to them.

Your goal is to get more leads, so focus on what the prospect needs.

That means, what THEY need, not what you think they need but are too dumb to know or what you want them to know.

Education comes later.

Give them what THEY need and want to know.

Don’t forget, you’re not trying to sell your solution with your website. Your prospects can’t buy through your website. You’re trying to “sell” the next engagement – the coveted demo call with your sales rep.

The prospect to opportunity website engagement life cycle:

  • C-Level is engaged through demand-gen and lead-gen efforts.
  • C-Level lands on site.
  • Engages with C-Level triggers on LP.
    • If LP is not the homepage, C-Level will complete CTA on LP, if not, they will go directly to the home page.
    • LP triggers are similar to either homepage or interior page depending on entry intent.
    • Awareness = homepage / Feature driven = interior page
  • Engages with C-Level triggers on homepage.
  • Clicks on pricing if this option is available.
  • Clicks on interior “feature” page that addresses an immediate concern.
  • They pass the site off to a team leader.
  • Team leader goes directly to the shared URL.
  • Team leader goes to homepage.
  • Team leader goes to each interior page that address all their concerns.
  • Team leader green lights the tool.
  • Sales rep is engaged.
  • Opportunity is created and the sales life-cycle begins.

How to structure navigation

There’s a lot you can put in the nav, but there’s very little your prospect actually needs at first glance.

The goal of navigation is to help users find what they want/need. The key word there is HELP.

Throwing everything top-level isn’t helpful.

Frankly, almost nobody cares about your events, team bios, or press releases. They’re not nearly as important as your features, price, or integrations.

Add hierarchy to your nav.

Break your links into two or three tiers.

Only place what is essential to your prospect and their search for solving their problem top level.

If they want to know more, they’ll dig. If they don’t, then they won’t.

Suppress the urge to make everything important.

C-Levels and Team Leads initially care about very few things.

  • Do you have/ can you do X?
  • Is it in budget?
  • Do you integrate with X?

If you don’t do what they need, are out of budget, or don’t integrate with another tool, then that’s it.

Do you have the features they need to solve their problem?

Do you integrate with their tech stack?

Are you within budget?

Don’t waste their time with the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Often, everything else can be siblinged under a “Resources” menu label.

How to structure your home page

“Am I in the right place or am I wasting my time?”

The quicker your prospect can decipher if they’re in the right place the quicker they can dive in – or flip that – the less likely they are too bounce.

Make the first thing the prospect sees is a clarifying message that they’re in the right place.

be clear with what you are

Then stack that with the overarching value they’re looking to get – address the job they’re trying to get done and how you make them more awesome.

No one is looking for a feature or solution in isolation.

They want the feature or solution so they can do X better.

You need to include both as a nice 1+2 combo.

be clear with what you do for the problem you solve

Validation and a reason to dig deeper.

Here’s where your C-Level and Team Lead personas split in their user behavior.

Once both personas know they’re in the right place, they immediately need to be hooked by another trigger.

C-Levels need validation. Team leads need information.

Showcase your client roster, recognition and award badges, review and ratings to progress your C-Levels to their next interaction event.

give validation with your clarity

Team leads will either click in the navigation or give a quick scroll hoping to see a brief overview – whichever will get them to what they need to know is fine by them.

target multiple personas on a single page

How to structure feature pages

C-Levels need highlights that can be caught during quick scrolls.

Without digging in can they find the thing that makes them go…

“Ah, yup, that’s what we were talking about during the growth meeting”

For team leads, let them go as deep as they need without forcing them.

Always make it easier to find out more for their preliminary evaluation without having to initiate the sales process – ie. request demo, contact sales ( faq stack, chatbox, community forum )