Using Keyword Metrics to Assess New SEO Clients

And they say you can’t surprise a seasoned salesman…

A couple of weeks ago, I fired up my twitter client only to be knocked down by a post by Dan from EvolvingSEO:

Choosing SEO Clients

Seeing this I immediately went WHAT? That’s not how you do it. That’s insane!

But it’s not. In fact, Dan opened my eyes on one of the most crucial aspects of finding new clients.

Stay with me to find out why.

It’s not easy to be a sales person. I know, I have been one.

The pressure is constantly on. On one end, you need to make those sales happen. Call after call, email after email you try to find people willing to buy from you. Then, those sales have to be of a certain size, or type, or certain kind of opportunity. And to do all this, you need to find prospects that can give you both.

It gets even worse if, like most freelancers or small business owners, you have to do both sales and delivery. Not only you have to make those sales but also have to do the work too. And needless to say, either of the two takes the whole day on its own.

But you need to keep bringing new clients. It is quite rare that your current ones can support you over a long term. Not to mention help you grow your business.  And even if that’s the case, there is always a possibility that some might leave you, for any reason whatsoever.

Thus you should always be on the lookout for new clients. And good ones at that.

But how do you establish if they are good ones? Historically, sales and business people used 3 characteristics to assess how good a lead is:

  1. The need for your services. 

First of all, they need to need you. And even though it might seem obvious, business people commonly go after customers that only seem to need them.

Sure, it might seem so at the first sight- their site is not optimised, they have very little organic presence, don’t engage in content marketing, don’t have local presence and so on.

The trouble is, they might not need SEO right now and might not be worth wasting your time on.

2. Ability to pay your prices

Secondly, they need to be able to pay your rates. Freelance often sell themselves short, only to get a job. Part of the reason for that is naturally desperation, lack of work. But the other reason is that they target people who can’t pay them.

3. The power to say yes

Lastly, you must be talking to the person who can say yes. But how many times did you hear a prospect promising you a job after they talk to their boss about it not to hear from them again? It may seem that you have the sale, the person you met with wants to hire you. But they are not the decision maker. You are talking to a wrong person.

Why? Because no employee will do a great job at selling you to their boss. The only person that can is you. Full stop.

But what Dan suggests adds a new dimension to prospecting –  the ability to check the size and potential of the prospect with simple and provable metrics.

What’s so great about it?

Historically sales people based their opinions about a company on non tangible facts and assets, the size of the company, their marketing collateral and so on. But a brand keyword data tells you exactly what is the market interest in the said company.

This metric can help you:

  • assess if the client is for you. If you are looking for big clients only, or established ones, companies with small brand keyword search data may not be a good match for you.
  • establish if you can help them. Similarly, the client might be too big for you. If you operate on limited resources, taking a very established client on might use up all your resources, leaving you struggling to deliver on the promise, penniless and frustrated.

Would I use Dans way to find new clients if I still sold SEO?

In short yes.

It’s not the only metric I’d go for obviously. I’d certainly still used the 3 characteristics above but I’d certainly assess them also based on their brand keyword search data.

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