Do you make outbound cold calls to new digital marketing prospects?
Do you receive inbound calls and need to appear like the instant SEO expert?
If you answered “yes” to either of the questions above, you need a strategy to differentiate yourself from the fifteen other knuckleheads your prospects are talking to everyday. You need to be of value. Providing value is your most important objective.
If you are of value, you will instantly become an asset to the person on the other end of the line.
So, how do you provide value?
First, how to not provide value:
No Value Scenario A: If you are cold calling, you need to understand that your preparation for each call needs to be time constrained. If you do not have a limitation guideline, you will over-prep and never get around to calling the prospect. The side effects of over-preparation are call reluctance and performance anxiety. You will not talk to enough prospects or the correct prospects, therefore, you will never have the opportunity to provide value.
No Value Scenario B: If you are receiving inbound calls, you must be able to think on your feet, educate your prospect and portray confidence. If each question the inbound caller asks you is immediately followed by an “uhhhh” or “I don’t know, let me get back to you,” you are going to sound like a secretary or call center rep put in place to bide time until a more knowledgeable person can return the call. The side effects of not being quick on your feet include losing an ever-important rapport building opportunity and appearing like a novice. Neither of which provide any value.
Figuring out how to provide value in both scenarios above is the only way separate yourself from the sea of SEO industry professionals. Proving your worth on short notice becomes easy when using the tools outlined in my process below.
Remember to focus on the facts, provide an education to your prospect, and avoid bragging about your company’s state-of-the-art proprietary processes or industry shattering ideas early on in the relationship (every company has these processes/ideas and if any of them were 100% effective the company would have a monopoly in our industry). Information is valuable, ideas are questionable.
Let’s get started.
I just timed myself running all of the audits below and it took 38 seconds from start to finish.
STEP 1: Open all of these tools, in separate windows, and have your prospect’s URL handy.
STEP 2: Screaming Frog SEO Spider allows you to do a quick crawl of your prospect’s site. You will be able to uncover potential crawl issues, 404 errors, missing page titles, spammy meta descriptions, over-optimized meta keywords and improper use of h1 tags.
STEP 3: SEMRush is full of valuable information, but I limit it to one simple area. There is a “Traffic” section in the upper right of the Overview dashboard after you run your prospect’s URL. In that section, click the “All time” box in the upper right. This gives you a quick snapshot of any significant visibility dips which may be associated with algorithmic penalties.
This tool will tell you the date of visibility dips or increases which you can reference with the Google Algorithm Change History page on moz.com. This will give you grounds for asking if your prospect has received any emails or notifications for algo or manual penalties via Webmaster Tools.
STEP 4: There are many quick tools to look at backlinks. I use Majestic SEO. After you run your prospects URL, click on the “Backlinks” tab, then click “Download Data” in the upper right of the list of backlinks. The downloaded link inventory file allows you to quickly sort their stockpile by anchor text or in alphabetical order. Quickly scroll through this list, scanning for spammy or undesirable links pointing to your prospect.
If you really want to “wow” the prospect, send them the file when the conversation is over. It will be a takeaway no one else is offering and when they open the file they will immediately think, “This is confusing as hell. I need to hire someone.”
STEP 5: The Moz Local tool is a great asset when dealing with businesses fighting for a dominant local presence. It quickly identifies NAP (Name/Address/Phone) inconsistencies which are the foundation of your prospect’s online identity.
STEP 6: A Google developer audit, accessible via Chrome, provides a depth of technical insight in a blink of an eye. Here’s how you get the important data from this audit tool:
- Pull up the prospect’s site in Google Chrome
- Right click on anywhere on their site
- Select “Inspect Element”
- Select “Audits” which appears to the far right of the magnifying glass
- Click “Select All” and put the radio button on “Reload Page and Audit on Load”
- Click “Run”
The audit takes a few seconds to complete, pointing out slow WordPress and Joomla site structure, web page performance and the utilization of available page speed optimization methods.
STEP 7: Finally, click on the prospect’s social media icons (hopefully located in the header or footer of their site). If their social media properties are not easily accessible, go directly to the main channels and perform a manual search.
How to make it all come together.
Now you have a complete inventory of nerdy details you can draw upon when necessary. Be prepared to listen and ask intelligent questions. Figure out their pain. Learn what they want to accomplish.
With this quick prep, you have all the insight (and them some) you need to be an instant expert on their web presence including:
- a visual of their desktop version and quick glance at their site’s responsiveness
- URI structure
- understanding of crawlability, possibly exposing robots.txt or nofollow issues
- 404 errors
- 301 redirect handled correctly
- page title
- page title character count
- meta description
- meta description character count
- meta keywords
- meta keyword character count
- h1 tags
- general understanding of significant visibility decreases/increases, including date of fluctuation
- reference point to sync visibility fluctuation up with Google algorithm changes
- general keywords targeted
- backlink inventory
- backlink anchor text
- dates of link building
- eye test on link quality
- referring domain count
- referring IP count
- citation/trust flow
- NAP data inconsistencies
- proper use of browser caching, gzip compression
- snapshot view of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Do you want to dump all of this knowledge on your prospect? Not unless you want them to hang up on you. Use this information sparingly to prove your worth as an asset to your prospect’s business. Show your value as a professional.
Which tools do you use?
I didn’t just wake up one day and start researching which tools were best to use when prepping for sales calls. Over many years, my trusted peers have shared these tools with me. I’ve tested them over time and they’ve proven to be efficient. If I left anything important off of this list, please share your bag of tricks in the comments below.
If my list is utterly perfect in your mind, apply it today, close a sale and come back here to share the story. Who knows… maybe you’ll get a job interview out of the deal 🙂