7 Ways SEOs Can Help Sales Keep Clients Happy (Without Going Crazy)
There’s nothing worse than being asked to deliver on promises you know you can’t keep.
But as a busy SEO manager you know that’s exactly what happens.
It’s frustrating when someone in sales makes outlandish claims to clients and then you have to deliver:
- Your company will be on page 1 of Google search results within a month.
- Your company will STAY on page 1 of Google after that.
- You’ll get a complete link audit within a week.
- You will rank for [insert keyword] within 60 days.
- We can easily get links and traffic to get your SERP up fast.
If you’re not in the original client meeting, when you finally have to deliver on what sales have promised, you probably come out in a cold sweat (especially for that last one, which has that “black hat”, Penguin and Panda-unfriendly whiff about it!)
At the same time, you need to keep clients happy and deliver results, without doing anything that could incur penalties and leave them worse off than they were before. How do you do that? Here are some tips.
1. Educate to Accumulate
If you’re not talking to clients yourself, the next best thing is to make sure the people who ARE talking to them have the right information. If sales people know exactly what’s possible, then it cuts down on the number of broken promises, because they can face clients with reliable information. Consider holding regular briefing sessions with sales people to keep them abreast of the latest changes in SEO and what that means for the firm’s clients. And explain the value of a nimble strategy to take full advantage of the constantly changing Google search algorithm while avoiding penalties. This tip sets the context for all of the other things you can do to keep sales and clients happy.
2. Set and Manage Expectations
You know what’s at the root of all unhappiness? People not getting their expectations met. As an SEO manager it’s up to you to tell clients (and the sales people who will be talking to them) about what’s actually possible with SEO. Instead of making untenable promises, sales staff can tell clients what IS achievable focusing on the fact that:
- Rankings alter all the time and it’s nothing to worry about.
- Building relevant inbound links and traffic takes time
- It’s not all about keywords and anchor text – and if you don’t do SEO properly, you risk incurring penalties for unnatural linking
The important thing is to communicate what could happen and what affects the outcome ahead of time.
3. Expand What You Report On
SEO has changed and it’s important that both sales people and clients understand that it’s not just about a single metric. Yes, you still have to optimize so people can find you but it’s time to debunk those myths and let clients know that SEO today is also about quality, relevance and getting social so that companies get the attention they want and convert that attention to sales. Clients – and the people who are selling your SEO services – must understand the importance of optimizing for mobile search, semantic search and local search as part of this process. This is good for your business – and for theirs!
4. Agree and Document Strategy
When clients are better aware of what you can do for their website, then it’s time to set some goals. Again, where sales people are well informed they can help clients keep these goals realistic. Help everyone out by keeping abreast of trends in SEO and marketing and having charts and graphs on hand to provide quick data on what’s happening now and what to expect. As well as sites like Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal, Econsultancy is an excellent resource for this, while Pew Internet is great for data on how people are using the web and social media. If everyone is seeing a drop in rankings because of a Google algorithm change, then clients need to know so they don’t take it personally if their website temporarily tanks.
5. Avoid “One Size Fits All”
Every client’s website is their baby – and every site is different. Helping sales show clients how you will take the overall strategy of improving search rankings, attention and conversions and apply tactics that are suitable for their particular situation will help them feel appreciated. Back this up with case study data on how you have delivered for companies in similar verticals in the past. In fact, keeping case studies on hand gives sales people a great tool that they can use to show clients what your firm can do without making false promises. This helps to build trust, which is essential for a great client relationship.
6. Get Clients Involved
Quicksprout’s Neil Patel says content marketing and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly. And let’s face it, every day your clients are creating internal documents and external presentations that can be part of your SEO strategy. Let clients know how they can help by creating and sharing great content and they will feel more invested in achieving SEO strategy. Again, case studies of how this has worked in the past can help sales people drive this point home. And let them know SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” deal – it goes on for as long as clients want to keep making an impact.
Finally, communicate well and often throughout the client relationship. If you’re talking to clients yourself, great; if not, then regular updates to the people who ARE talking to them can keep things on track. Graphs, charts, reports or simply answering their burning questions about SEO will keep clients in the loop. Track the small gains that lead to achieving the bigger milestones. The more insight they have into how SEO works, the easier it will be to do your job and deliver on promises you can actually keep.
Creative commons photo by Rainier / Flickr