As part of my new years resolution, I have promised myself that I will read more. This does include a number of highly recommended digital marketing and SEO reads, but I have also promised that I will branch out a little reading things that aren’t necessarily focused on SEO. I believe that many SEO’s, like me, can spend too much time reading everything and anything to do with SEO using services like Buffer, Instapaper and Reeder. However, doing this gets us trapped in our own filter bubble the information being shared restricts you from seeing the bigger picture. My reasons for focusing on some non-SEO reads is a selfish one, I’m aiming to broaden my knowledge and learn things from others that I may be able to apply to my profession.
Consider doing this yourself. If you’re a keen reader of blogs on a certain subject then make a promise to read one non-subject focused post a day (week). Ensure that it is completely off-topic, if you read about web analytics most days, consider reading about a hobby of yours, or a friends! I believe that reading different topics can hone your skills and expand your horizons!
My first read is the very well known Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale, which was first published in 1982. You may ask what can a book published over 30 years ago teach us about selling in the modern world, well it seems quite a lot; certainly from my experience. In this post I aim to provide insight into sales and SEO and to attempt to reflect on some of the lessons that Zig preaches in Secrets, some which even 30 years on are very relevant to selling in the SEO; and broader digital marketing industry.
Zig points out 5 reasons why people will not buy, these are:
Do these sound familiar to reasons why prospective clients don’t want to invest in SEO? I thought so. If any of these reasons have caused you not to finish a sale then read on….
How many SEOs can truthfully answer yes to this statement? Selling has never been easy. The process of getting someone to part with there money is an unnatural one. Entering a sales discussion with someone can feel very uncomfortable (for both parties) as people largely don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional ones.
What’s more, selling in our industry is incredibly difficult, as marketing is a services industry; the majority of the time we’re selling time, not products. The lack of tangibility in selling services means that instantly our job is made more difficult, and that’s before you start to deal with the cowboys and unethical practices that have, for a long time, produced a very negative perception of our industry. While much of Zig’s experience is in selling kitchenware, physical products; this does not mean that a lot of his principles are applicable to selling SEO or digital marketing…
“If you don’t believe the customers are the losers when they don’t buy, you are selling the wrong product.” One question I’d urge anyone in SEO agencies to ask themselves is this one, until you can absolutely believe this statement then you’re going to have serious issues convincing others to buy from you. The potential gains that can be had in SEO are great, some would argue that, if done right, SEO can provide the most effective ROI than any other marketing activity a client can invest in.
But whatever you do, remember that “the prospect is persuaded more by the depth of your conviction than he is by the height of your logic” this is something that we are very guilty of in the SEO industry. Avoid blowing your own trumpet and always ensure that you provide relevant verified projections and examples to your prospects, avoid the hypothetical.
It’s difficult to remember in SEO, but you must aim to sell what it does, not what it is. I think a number of us are guilty of this in SEO, preaching too hard and for too long what SEO is, that we fail to put it in black and white for our potential future clients. Tell them what it will do for them, not just what it can do for others. As we said before, sometimes you’ve done a lot of the hard work, you just need to remember to ask the question of whether they want to buy or not. (Zig mentions frequently in Secrets how bad so many salespeople are at closing the sale purely because they don’t ask the question.
One thing that we must not get ahead of ourselves with is that good salespeople are also good people. I would not encourage nor expect anyone who does not 110% understand the product or service that they’re selling to be reading this post and think that reading this book will make them close every sale. This is something that historically has created a very negative opinion of the SEO industry and something that has caused individuals, like Judith Lewis, to call for the need for regulation in the SEO industry.
People often reference building trust in your prospects to help close a sale. This is human nature, the more people trust you as a person/business, the more likely they are going to be to invest in you. “Empathy is of utmost importance in selling - think both as a buyer and as a seller” putting yourself in your prospects shoes will help develop a better rapport.
“Be in the Right Place at the right time with the right product” No, this does not mean SEO conferences. People attending SEO conferences are incredibly likely to know what SEO is, and may even work in the industry themselves. Consider branching out:
One thing that Zig discusses which is relevant to the SEO industry is when he states that “If you’re going to be professional in selling you must read, study, and listen to motivational and educational recordings on a daily basis. You must attend clinics and seminars conducted by the professionals. Then you must work at adapting and applying these principles and idea to fit your specific situation. That is the way to stay inspired, informed, and up-to-date.”
Be the very best you can be, building your own confidence will help build others confidence in you.
This is probably one thing that I don’t really agree with is Zig’s focus in ‘Secrets’, he talks about ‘getting prospects interested enough to take action today is a major objective’ while a large part of SEO’s jobs is educating others, I don’t think that SEO is something that you can sell on the spot.
Time is a big factor in selling, to sell you need to build trust and develop a relationship, as SEOs this is absolutely paramount.
Help your prospect to differentiate between price and cost “price is a one-time thing; cost is something you are going to be concerned about for as long as you’ve got the product.” More often than not, in SEO we deal with costs of retained services, make sure you communicate this and be prepared for a slow approach to selling, marketing budgets are not spent overnight!
Persuade, then convince. Sell it, then deliver.
In SEO we are very familiar with the use of different words, but make sure you apply this to your sales efforts. Craft your communications carefully, consider the words identified below as words that sell, and ones that ‘unsell’, use them to your benefit:
Words that sell
Words that ‘unsell’
Sadly, Zig Ziglar passed away on November 28th 2012, but his lessons are still very relevant to us today. If sales is a part of your job then I’d strongly recommend others to read ‘Secrets of Closing the Sale’, in fact I’d recommend it even if not. Even, if you don’t have to time to read the whole thing then I’d certainly recommend reading sections 1 and 2 (up to page 155), after this there are sections that become fairly repetitive.
Also, take a look at the great article that Paddy Moogan wrote on the lessons he learned from non-SEO books.