Don’t Sell SEO

“I can guarantee you first page rankings on Google.” –Generic SEO Sales Guy

How many times have you or someone you work with in sales used the line above in a cold call, sales call, or an email? Have they even flirted with that notorious word?

If you answered yes, then you have joined the ranks of the other desperate individuals who care more about sales numbers than their client. Educated business owners see through these sales tactics and reprimand their gatekeepers for letting these types of cold calls make it through the chain of command. Business owners are smart. They look to align themselves with educated people. Before you even get the chance to sell your company’s product, you have to sell the business owner on the value of speaking with you. The “guarantee” sales pitch is the best way to show an educated consumer that you are generic. The fact of the matter is that unless the person is Chuck Norris, they cannot guarantee anything when it comes to search engine optimization.

I have decided to help the sales person who is falling down the SEO guarantee rabbit hole. I am not helping the sales person because I care about his sales, but if I could prevent one unethical guarantee, then I have made a small impact on the industry I love.

Don’t sell SEO. Help the client buy.

The goal of a person in sales is not be a slick, silver-tongued sales monster. He or she is a consultant to the prospective client, and should help the client discover their primary goals, and deliver a path to reach those goals. In the future, I will write another article on a proper needs analysis and discovery session, but before you can get to step 2 or 3, you must master step 1.

First, if the person selling SEO services delivers a transparent observation of how they can help the client, they already are more reputable. Educating the client on the facts behind SEO is of utmost importance. Let’s face it, 99%  of the clients who purchase SEO from your company don’t understand what they are buying. If you invest your initial time educating the client, you will leave them with something truly valuable whether they purchase from you or not.

Your client doesn’t care about your sales goals (unless you are selling to your grandma), but they do care about learning what makes their Internet marketing tick. Stating the obvious is the one of the most important parts of the initial contact between a business owner and the SEO representative. It’s OK to say that you are in sales, and that you represent a company that offers SEO services. More importantly, it’s OK to say that the reason you called him/her is because you are prospecting and you feel that you could help their business online. You must remember that successful business owners are smart, generally speaking, and they know how to filter out the good guys from the bad guys.

Once the contact has been made, a needs analysis has been conducted, and a proposal has been delivered, there is only one remaining piece that divides the relationship from becoming a business deal: a signature on the dotted line. To earn that signature, two major deciding factors for the client lie in rapport and trust. If you have developed a good rapport, and there is a reciprocal trust between the two parties, more than likely a business transaction will transpire. This is a good thing. However, now there is an ongoing aspect that will determine the retention of the business relationship. Has the client bought SEO or was he sold SEO?

It is very common for many business owners to build a good relationship with sales individuals, but more times than not, this relationship has been abused. If you are the sales person, you must ask yourself, did the client ever actually “buy” your service? The difference is if the client operated on faith alone, signed for your service, and doesn’t understand the true value in your offering. If the client does not truly understand the value, they have been sold. In this instance, all the client may understand is that if they invest “X”-amount of dollars, they will receive “Y” in return. ROI exercises are a dime a dozen, require very little skill and provide very little value. In my experience, when a client understands the value, an ROI exercise is completely unnecessary.

Be a true advisor to the client’s business.

When a business owner buys SEO, or any Internet marketing service, they should understand conservative expectations, what the service they are purchasing provides, how it will work for them, the controlled and uncontrolled variables, and should be aware of the different levels of aggression available.

As a consultant, you should present all viable options to the client, and you should explain how each level of aggression in the marketing strategy would directly relate to them reaching their goals. Don’t sell what you don’t know to be true. Don’t over-promise. Don’t be that guy. Don’t risk your rapport with the client to sell them something they don’t need. Respect the opportunity you have to be a true advisor to the client’s business.

For instance, if a client wants solid organic rankings, and wants to start seeing a return on their investment quickly, then it is very important to isolate those expectations. It is important to know what kind of rankings they want, and what the importance is to having those rankings. Also, find out how quickly they need to see a return on their investment, and precisely define what a return is to them. It isn’t always directly related to money. All in all, there could only be several options for a client to start reaching their goals, and those options will always have advantages and disadvantages.

A good business relationship exists when options are transparent, and the business owner knows accurate expectations of the services proposed. Sometimes making a professional recommendation of the proposed options to get them closer to their goals is all it takes. Allow the business owner to make a decision from the options available. If they want to buy something from your business that won’t get them to their goals, don’t sell it. Reinforce this sales mentality and you will quickly notice that now a proposal was bought instead of sold. Hopefully, you will notice a decrease in attrition in your book of business, or you will notice you have a newfound confidence in the business decision made.

Comment and tell me about the worst sales call you have heard.

1 Comment
  1. Austin says:

    Good information. I’m trying to decide if I want to get into SEO sales or not. I’ve never had a sales job before, but was recently offered one, today in fact, because I do SEO for fun for my own Nerd websites. The sales manager said the fact that I already understand the product puts me above the rest. I haven’t come to a decision if I’m going to take the job or not, but the company is at the number one spot for the keyword Denver SEO. So I figure they know what they’re doing and should be a good SEO firm to sell for. But I’ve never lived off 100% commission. Any advice?


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