How to Stay Clear of a Crappy SEO PitchI recently read an article by Danny Sullivan that showcased “crappy SEO pitches.” I get these all of the time in my inbox, as I imagine you do too. I am in complete agreement with Danny on this, hit delete as fast as you can and get these out of your inbox. No matter how enticing the price is, or the promises of top rankings, these are spam tactics and these folks are merely looking to dupe you. Hit delete and don’t look back.
After reading this article though, I got to thinking about my own pitches. I came up with a list of things to consider when talking to a potential customer.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
In my opinion, this is probably one of the most important aspects of sales. Ask the right questions and you can get a plethora of information that will help you fine tune your proposal and knock it out of the park. During this initial exploratory process, make sure to ask open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”) as these types of questions will allow your potential customer to speak and provide you with the information you’re seeking. Questions such as “How satisfied were you with SEO performance last year?” or “What areas are you seeking improvement in the coming year?” or “What keeps you up at night?” These are all open-ended questions that can provide you with a goldmine of info that will allow you to create a highly customized proposal that will impress.
This is something that good salespeople always focus on. Listen to what your prospect is saying. Bad salespeople want to open their mouth and talk about their experience, knowledge, etc, but I find this to be a bad approach. You might find yourself speaking for 75% of the meeting, and at the end, what have you learned about your potential customer’s needs? Probably not a whole lot. You may have even turned them as you kept blabbing.
After you’ve asked your open-ended questions, it’s time to actively listen. There is a different between listening and active listening. The major differentiator between the two is during active listening you’re continuing to ask side questions and you’re staying engaged. You don’t want to pose your question and then just sit back and relax while your potential customer speaks. If you show interest and engagement, this will tell your potential customer that you care, are interested, and frankly, you’ll just come across a whole lot smarter.
Use Your Prospect’s Name
This is a pretty simplistic recommendation, but I do believe it can go a long way. As you are discussing your potential customer’s current situation, make sure to use their name. “So Jim, from what I’m hearing it sounds like you’ve seen adequate results, but you just can’t seem to get over the hump to reach this new audience that you’ve been targeting.”
By using their name, this will help keep their attention (and everyone loves to hear their own name) and ensure they are engaged.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
After listening to your potential customer’s concerns about their current state of affairs, you can begin to further explain how your company can help. When doing so, be sure to stick to the KISS methodolgy though. Avoid using industry jargon your prospects won’t understand. Put it in words they can comprehend, and make sure they are following you by asking “Jim, did I explain that clearly enough?” By stating the question like this, you’ll not only use their name, but you’re really placing the blame on yourself if they don’t understand. When dealing with executives, they rarely like to admit they are wrong. Asking the question in manner where they don’t have to admit they don’t understand but you’ve explained it poorly will put the blame on you and allow you to rephrase.
If you are in the preliminary discussions you may not have had an opportunity to provide detailed insight into how your firm can help your potential customer’s. If this is the case, offer up a free audit that will outline 3-5 highlights on how to improve their current SEO, PPC or social media campaigns.
If you did have time to prepare for this initial meeting, all the better, as you should have already prepared some insights that you can share. These should be both low-hanging fruit that can be implemented quickly and longer term strategies that show you understanding of their industry/customers.
Provide a clear, concise plan
During the meeting, make sure you explain your thoughts for the “plan.” You want your potential customer to know that you’re knowledgeable and organized, as this can help build trust quickly. At this point you might also offer up some thoughts on goals and metrics, just to give your potential customer an idea of what you’ll be shooting for. Don’t go overboard here. As any legitimate marketer knows, you must do your initial research, then launch, then tweak your campaigns as you begin to collect more data. Don’t just throw numbers out there to “get the deal.” This will generally backfire as you’ve already set (potentially) lofty expectations and you’re setting your company up for failure before you’ve even started working on the account.
There are many more areas to focus on when pitching potential new business, but these are some that I work to include in my pitches and prospecting. I’ve found just being prepared and doing your homework ahead of time can go along way, but including many of the above ideas into your pitch can really help close the deal.
If you have any additional thoughts or want to share your own sales pitch ideas, I’d love to hear them, just leave a comment.
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