SEO is an industry that is technically complicated, constantly evolving, and widely misunderstood. There are just as many people who think they know what SEO as those who admit they don’t.
When sales teams for SEO services interact with potential clients, there is a wide range of knowledge they might encounter. Often, misunderstandings about optimization cause potential clients to ask for a whole lot more than an SEO agency can realistically deliver. Following through on a lead often requires a great deal of teaching, negotiating, and sometimes, difficult decisions about a client’s appropriateness.
Educating Potential Clients
We all know what clients want when they look for SEO lead generation services, and we also know that nine times out of ten their expectations are based on incomplete, out of date, or incorrect information.
That’s not their fault, we serve extremely smart people who are very good at what they do, but SEO is what we do, and it’s opaque, obtuse, and technical.
Everyone wants to be the first result of page one, they want it overnight, and they want to rank for keywords locked down by the world’s biggest brands. A personalized education experience is a vital tool in the lead generation toolkit, because we all know expectations coming in to an SEO service can be wild.
Jordan Yocum from Page One Power describes the difficulty of educating potential clients:
“The real difficulty lies in explaining that what they want isn’t a reasonable request anymore, and was always against Google’s guidelines. The days of blog commenting and mass directory additions are over. If you really want to see results, you need a quality and sustainable link building campaign.”
Someone’s expectations of an SEO service often need tempering, reframing, or outright changing, and that can be an extremely difficult part of the client acquisition process. Sales in SEO are also about education, because if you don’t educate clients about what can be achieved and the timelines over which they can expect results, your relationship could turn disastrous.
Exercising Patience With Client Contacts
Educating clients requires a careful balance of patience and firm boundaries. Just because a client comes to you with unreasonable expectations doesn’t mean that they are, in fact, unreasonable people. It can be trying to hear the same impossible requests over and over again, but the wealth of misinformation floating around about SEO lead generation is why we have jobs. It’s not easy, and many people in the industry fall behind and get caught up on out of date information.
Your potential clients need to be convinced that an SEO strategy requires a lot of legwork; quality content, careful research, and a long-term plan. Convincing a potential client that SEO results are going to take months as opposed to days can cause quite a shock. Just because someone is managing the hiring of an SEO service at a company doesn’t mean they know much, or potentially anything, about SEO. You’re going to encounter a wide variety of experience and delivering an experience that not only teaches, but respects their intelligence can be a major advantage in closing a sale.
Transparency is another attitude you should practice when talking to potential clients. Don’t assume that they don’t want or can’t handle the technical details, just because they come into the relationship with little knowledge. It can take some time for them to properly understand the process and what’s required of each party. The more transparent you are, the easier a relationship will be to manage down the road.
Difficult Decisions: Selecting the Right Clients
In SEO, not all sales are equal. If you can’t successfully manage a client’s expectations of your services you may end up losing that relationship, in court over the contract, or with a diminished reputation.
If a client doesn’t buy in to your outline of the project timeline and what results they can expect, it might be best to walk away. It can be tempting to take the client on anyway, under the assumption that they will come around, and you need the sale, but this industry in particular relies on relationships to function. Relationships between websites, and relationships between service providers and their clients. If you don’t start off on the right foot, that relationship may be destined to fail.
One of the hardest parts of lead generation is knowing when to abandon a lead. In order to properly onboard a client they have to be, well, on board. If they’re not, it’s best to look for a relationship that’s going to be more productive for both of you.