Making the Perfect SEO / SEM Pitch
I'm not a sales guy by trade or interest for that matter, but I do enjoy pitching to prospects once the various pre-qualification steps have been taken. Being involved in the process keeps me on my toes because while the prospect may need SEO or SEM 101, you'll need to go above and beyond that to stand out amongst the vendors you're competing with. The trick with pitches is going big but remaining realistic; focusing more on strategy and less on tactics; and following through after the initial pitch. I like to think I'm getting better at all of these things, but I certainly have room for improvement.
Happy people attract happy people and sad people attract sad people. If you're a happy person, you know that nothing brings you down like someone who spends all his time whining and complaining. Similarly, excited people can actually lift the spirits of others even if the topic at hand seems boring. Don't believe me? Go listen to a professional speaker and then tell me that you don't feel an energy boost.
The trick here is matching your excitement to the topic and the audience. Some companies aren't going to respond to over-the-top excitement. You'll lose credibility fast just like some Food TV hosts that would have us believe the leaf of iceberg lettuce they just bit into is the greatest thing they've ever eaten. You also need to adjust your excitment based on your role in the pitch. The business development guy is supposed to be happy-go-lucky about everything. The SEO's eye's should light up when the audience throws out an SEO question. The media expert should rattle off ideas about new advertising channels with little prompting.
Don't let the deck you've worked on for 48 hours straight and is now projected on a nearby screen stifle your excitement. Prospects will love you for taking their attention away from slide 58 and engainging them in a real dialogue.
And of course, stifle that yawn!
SEO Strategy, Not Tactics
A former employer was the first to really help me wrap my head around the concept of strategy vs. tactics. Those teachings were so inspiring that it prompted me to write an article about SEO strategy as my submission to last year's Marketing Pilgrim Scholarship contest. Sadly, I didn't win, but writing the article helped me expand my own understanding of the differences.
With pitches, presenting a strategy tailored to the prospect will get you a lot farther than pointing out that their site's title tags repeat. Chances are the prospect already knows such things or will be hearing about them 4 more times from the other vendors. What will set you apart is demonstrating an understanding of the challenges the prospect, or at least those in the prospect's industry, face and coming up with an original, yet effective strategy to meet certain goals. It sounds really, really easy and for some it probably is, but for the hands-on, technically minded sort, it can be a big challenge.
Don't Drop the Ball
If you've done the first two things well, the worst thing you can then do to kill your chances is drop the ball. Were their questions that you didn't get to answer during the meeting? Answer them as soon as possible in an e-mail. Did the prospect ask for a copy of the deck? Send it immediately because it's probably wanted for circulation. Does the prospect want to talk more? Continue to be excited! Scale back the team so that not everyone's time is used and just send the one or two most relevant people.
If you drop the ball, someone else will pick it up. I know. I've both seen it happen for companies I've worked for as well as been in the postition to pick it up myself.
People are sometimes hesitant to share tips, but I'd love to hear yours. Don't worry -- 99.9% of the people that read this article and your tips won't act on it. Humans are funny that way...