Enjoy this guest post from Phil Singleton!
One of my favorite quotes from Duct Tape Selling is that “most people know that the days of knocking on doors and hard-selling are over.” This is so true. For anyone with a sales role these days, it’s virtually impossible to succeed by mass cold-calling and selling from a pitch sheet. Today’s savvy small businesses are creating inbound marketing channels and most of their ideal customers are already in the education process or on the purchase path before they make personal contact with a decision maker or person of influence.
If you are lucky enough to establish personal contact with the right person, chances are that this qualified prospect has already researched your company online, checked online reviews and perhaps even looked you up personally online before agreeing to a phone call or meeting. This means, as sales professionals, we need to be much more educated about our own industry, products and services than we were in the past. We also need to establish our personal credibility online and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, methods and tools can help accomplish this goal:
1. Rankings Demonstrate Corporate Authority
When the company you work for – or the product or service – comes up first in Google search, these top rankings convey merit, ability and trust. The authors of top ranking content are immediately perceived by searchers to be ‘players’ with respect to the terms being searched. You may or may not be in control of your company’s SEO strategy, but you can certainly make your organization aware of the importance of SEO for lead generation and how your company can leverage search engine rankings in the sales process.
2. Rankings Demonstrate Personal Authority
While you may have a limited ability to affect your company’s SEO strategy, you can certainly take charge of your own personal SEO strategy and online branding. This includes maintaining an active B2B social media strategy and trying to generate SEO signals for your own website assets. As an example, I spend effort making sure I get search engine rankings for my business, but also for my own personal branding. For example, if you search Google for Phil Singleton or Phil Singleton Kansas City, you should see some first page rankings related to me. I work on my own brand and SEO strategy so when people look me up online, they will see rankings and content on third party sites that are relevant to my niche.
Every salesperson in the world is capable of building a personal brand on sites like LinkedIn. Better yet, you can also create a personal career-oriented site on a free blogging platform or full-featured content marketing platforms like Rainmaker that will follow you throughout your career. The point is that when prospective customers look you up (and they will look you up online) you are not only easily found, but there is also content and social engagement demonstrating your knowledge and authority in your niche.
3. SEO Amplifies Expert Platforms
In Chapter 8 of Duct Tape Selling, Jantsch explains the importance on creating an expert platform. In terms of SEO, a company’s website should be the hub of virtually all marketing activities. One of the best ways to improve rankings and demonstrate authority is maintain an active blog with great content and actively promote this content to spur engagement. Blogging with optimized content will get more targeted traffic to your website and convert more sales activity from existing traffic. Further, rankings also help more ideal customers and partners find your web assets, extending the reach and power of your expert platform.
4. SEO Tools Help You Define Sales Leads
If you agree that selling and the sales process have changed forever and the education-based marketing is what is most-effective today, then defining your ideal client is the foundation of modern day sales. The SEO industry has dozens of great tools that can help you determine how and what people are searching for, how they engage content and how the competitors’ web assets perform online. One of my all-time favorite online tools is free: Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This nifty tool enables you to see exactly how Google users are searching for content related to your product or service. There is also great pay-per-click data that gives you an indication of what words and phrases are converting to sales. This information not only aids in identifying ideal clients, it also helps you target the kind of content you need to create to draw them into your company’s inbound marketing channels.
5. Rankings Can Help You Close Sales
Using Google search during a sales presentation can be a very effective closing tool. Whether you are on a phone or video conference, or on at a physical meeting, working in a Google search demo during a phone presentation can be a very effective in many types of sales pitches. If you already have strong rankings for something that is relevant to the client, bring it to their attention. Additionally, pointing out rankings to leads that come via word-of-mouth marketing will increase your referral conversion rates. You say that you don’t have relevant rankings to use in the sales process? Try using some of the mining tools above to find topics your ideal clients would find relevant to the sales process, create the content and post it to company’s blog. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to pinpoint long-tail keywords and phrases to create entire blog posts around very specific topics that are designed to help you close certain kinds of sales.
While search engine optimization is traditionally thought of as a lead generation technique, you can bring SEO into to the sales process to strengthen your position as an expert and prove your company is a marketing authority.
About the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of KCSeoPro.com, a full-service online marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other Internet marketing services, and KCWebdesigner.com, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications. Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant and provides Kansas City small business marketing services.