How SEOs Should Be Earning New Clients Trust From the Start
Have you ever thought what an interesting arrangement it is?
One person makes a promise, perhaps to increase rankings, gain more business online or recover from a penalty, backing it up with their previous track record, stats they think might be convincing and their personal charm too.
A prospect’s job in turn is to either buy into that or not.
It’s debatable who does more heavy lifting. One thing is certain though – in spite of what the agreement might seem, there is very little trust gained in the process. In fact, a sale is rather an indication that both parties are ready to develop it but nothing else.
When it comes to that though, it is not the sales person who does it. It’s you.
There is a chance the you haven’t met the prospect before. Now they are your client and your company expects you to build a lasting relationship with them. For no other reason that to retain them for longer of course.
Your client on the other hand has already agreed to build that relationship but it wasn’t with you. Now they have their expectations. They are also afraid, like anyone entering a new relationship. And they need you to help them overcome the fear.
Yes, tricky indeed.
Your First Steps Are Crucial
Building a lasting relationship starts the second new clients file lands on your desk. No, you are not better off leaving it till tomorrow or next week. The speed of your reaction sets the tone for the relationship.
Your client expects things to get moving straight away. They don’t care how busy you are right now. Those first few hours or a day after the sale is made are crucial for building that relationship with them. That’s the time when you can make the biggest impact.
But that doesnt mean that you suddenly have to drop everything else you are doing though. In fact, you can start off with few, very little time consuming tasks and take it from there.
Here are few suggestions to get you started.
Send Your Client Your Welcome Pack
By far and away, this should be the very first thing you do.
Send your client a short email. Introduce yourself in few words and include your welcome pack. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. A simple, nice looking few pages long PDF introducing you and outlining the way you work with clients will more than suffice. Since it will most likely be your first contact with the client, getting them to know you in a more creative way will definitely beat the standard “hey I am John, I’ll be your SEO today” email.
Not to mention, it will also make you look good in their eyes.
Set Them Up on Your Project Management Software
I take it that you use some sort of a project management software, like Basecamp to manage your work (and you really should if you don’t).
Set your new client on it immediately. It only takes a few minutes but will be invaluable when building the relationship.
Every client wants to feel special, they want to know that you are working on their account straight away, even if they haven’t provided you with all the information you need to actually get to work.
Send an Initial Execution Plan and Schedule
A couple of days after introducing yourself, email them an initial project roadmap and estimated timelines. You don’t have to go into much detail in here. At most your plan will outline general steps you will be taking and deadlines you hope to achieve.
The key goal in this action is to reassure your client of their choice of a provider and give them a way to track and monitor the progress of the project.
Present Ways for the Client to Have an Input
No client wants to be left out of their project.
Naturally they believe that you are able to do the work but ultimately, clients want to be in control too. After all, it is their business that you are working with. Therefore, provide your client with a clear plan of communication. If you are using Basecamp, set a regular schedule for posting updates so your client knows when to expect them. Do the same with regular report calls to discuss the recent developments.
Introduce Them to Your Way of Reporting
Reporting on SEO can be tricky too. After all, you try your best to show your progress but in spite of your best efforts, your clients often don’t get it. Worse, they can even start to doubt your skill, in spite of the information staring right back at them.
The thing is, what seems like a clear proof of your work to you, to your clients might sound like a complete gibberish. Before you even issue the very first report, explain how you are going to be showing them the data. Naturally your KPIs will be agreed with them. But even with that, clients not always can see between the numbers. The better you explain what they mean, the better your relationship with them will develop.
Take Your Client Out To Lunch (Or Drinks)
Lastly, nothing beats building a personal connection. Take your client out to lunch or drinks at some point during the project. An office, be it yours or theirs can be quite formal. But spending some time with the client in an informal setting of a cafe or a bar can result in a much better understanding and trust from one another.
Building long lasting customer relationships is essential for any busienss. Sale is only a beginning of the process and the bulk of the work often falls on your shoulders. And the way you will handle this will depend on the future between your company and the client.
How do you build relations with clients? What tricks could you share with us?
Creative commons image by Dobi / Flickr