Saturday, June 2, 2012

Networking and SEO

One of the barriers to entry when starting an SEO firm is an effective Sales strategy.  Without the ability to close a sales deal, you have no business.  The most time consuming and frustrating part of the sales process in the courtship.  There are multiple methods: cold calling, email blasts, pay-per-click advertising, etc.  Our most successful strategies in the early stages of our business has been referrals and joining a Business Networking group.

When you are a young SEO firm, chances are that you will have to wear many hats within your company to be successful.  You will likely need to have the ability to sell your services as well as follow through on the technical aspects.  The combination of the two can be a deadly force when it comes to client meetings and closing deals.  A client of ours, unhappy with their previous SEO company, informed us that when they asked their SEO Sales Rep about how their campaign was being run, the Sales Rep responded with, "I don't know the back-end technological side so I can't really answer your questions..."  Meanwhile, the same client has praised our approach saying that they are impressed with the amount of information they were given in our initial sales consultation.

The quality of interpersonal skills is a quality that we look for when hiring not only our Sales Managers but our SEO Analysts and Technicians as well.  Not only do we work on the back-end of a client's SEO campaign, we also interface with our clients to consult them on the "What, Where, Why, When and How" of the project.  We think this adds value with not only customer satisfaction and sales success, but also with customer retention.  Happy customers are likely to refer your business to other potential clients.  This skips the main courting phase of the sale often eliminating 2 to 3 sales calls before getting face time with the decision-maker of a potential client.  Sales Cycle Time is a very important sales metric.  This is the process length of a typical sale from initial contact with a potential client to contract signing.  A referral can cut up to 4 weeks in the Sales Cycle Time allowing your business to save money and very valuable time.

Another great way to get business referrals, in our experience, has been through Business Networking groups.  I spend about 2 hours every week at my main business network chapter meeting.  We have a very active group that loves to give out good referrals.  Each meeting allows me a chance to help my fellow chapter members single out what a quality lead for me would be.  With more than 35 members in the group, this increases my sales force for the cost of my time and the yearly dues which will be earned back 5 times with the close of one deal.  The ROI of this sales method is much greater than a typical cold call sales methodology.   

Web Crawl Consulting
Author: Michael Palmer

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