Lessons Learned From My Search Engine Marketing Cold Call

Michael Beauchemin —  July 18, 2013

Recently, while working at a customer’s site they received a cold call from a company selling Search Engine Marketing services in Charlotte.  Since I was sad person their marketing person, they transferred the call to me.  Out of curiosity I decided to take 20 minutes to listen to their value proposition.  I would  have loved to have recorded the call and played it back on what not to do during a call.  The call is what every business and consumer hates about sales people; manipulative, high pressure, assumptive selling.

If your company is doing that, you may get the initial sale, but more often than not, many of your customers will have buyers remorse leading to a high degree of churn, negative reviews on-line and a large number of negative social media posts and tweets.

Here Were The 10 ways I Was Turned off By This Sales Approach 

  1. As mentioned the initial call was a cold call, but was not the sales presenter.  I had assumed since she was the one calling and had me on the phone she was qualified to detail the company’s services and value proposition. That was not the case.
  2. I was put on hold, and asked to watch a video while she tracked down another person.  No, I guess they didn’t value my time.
  3. The sales person started firing detailed questions about the business prior to establishing any type of trust or a relationship.  Many of the questions I found inappropriate or none of their business.
  4. The presenter didn’t try and learn about my background or knowledge about the services she was selling – SEO, PPC, Inbound Marketing, etc.  Instead, she just assumed I knew nothing (and based on our conversation, I know it was the other way around).
  5. The sales person questioned me when I provided the conversion rate my client has for inquiries.  I was informed that all their clients in the same industry were converting at over 50% for inquiries…Really, how many businesses do you know that convert at 50% off a call from a web site?  Would you challenge a prospective client at an initial meeting with no prior relationship?  Not the best way to gain trust and credibility.
  6. Attempted to build up the ROI on the investment based on what I perceived as an artificially high conversion rates from a one page landing site with no offer.
  7. After the offer and packages were presented, she jumped into her assumptive selling mode and chose a package for me and attempted to take down my credit card number prior to getting feedback from me about their services.
  8. After reminding the person that at the start of call I let it be known that I was not going to buy during the call the representative tried to pressure me with time…the offer is only good for the day, you’ll never see an offer like this again….
  9. After saying no, the person jumped into the car sales pitch: “Let me talk to my manager and see if we can hold this deal until tomorrow.”  It was actually pretty funny when I told them they sounded like…a high pressure car salesman.
  10. The person was upset that I did not buy during the call, essentially closing the door to any future opportunity for marketing to me.

Manipulative Selling Doesn’t Work

At one time, manipulative selling strategies may have been effective and on occasion will work for a one time sale, but don’t expect your business to have any staying power.  With the explosion of social media, on-line reviews, and accessibility to information, customers and prospective customers, can quickly gather feedback and determine whether your business is one they want to buy from.  Poor on-line reviews, negative posts or negative tweets will bury your company quicker than ever.

How Inbound Marketing has Transformed the Sales Process

The essence of Inbound Marketing is about developing a relationship and building trust with your prospective client.  It is not about going for the quick sales (although we always love when that happens and are never opposed to a one call sale).  It starts by helping.  For example:  You own a garden center and on your web site blog, you post meaningful content.  One of your post is: Ten Best Ways to Prevent Weeds.  A user searches for the term “best way to prevents weeds” and finds your blog articles, you have helped that user.

At the end of the article is an offer – Free E Book:  30 Days to a Greener Lawn.  All of a sudden you’ve captured the interest of the user.  He or she gives you his or her email address and name in exchange for the E Book.

Now is the fun part.  You develop a series of messages helping that person with gardening and lawn tips and educating them about your products or services along the way.  Your now the recognized lawn and garden expert.  Your value has increased and it is likely they will frequent your business rather than another business.  It is your advice and expertise that helped them solve their weed problem.

A couple of key points:

  • Your offer has to be of enough value, that your visitor is willing to give out their contact information in exchange for the information.
  • Once you have the contact information, you automate a series of messages to be sent to them that are educational and informative.
  • Messages, need to be of value to the recipient otherwise they will not be read them or worse, mark them  as spam.
  • Messages should be setup with the goal of building trust and moving the prospective client through the sales funnel.
  • Measure, measure, measure.  Make sure you use an automated email system that tracks opens, click-through rates, bounces.  Setup separate tracking phone numbers so you can measure where phone calls are coming from (direct mail, landing pages, emails, etc.)

Yes, some of the contacts will opt out or ignore the messages but some will become customers based on the trust and goodwill you established by helping them and sharing your valued content.  These are sales you would never have had if you turned them off by your initial contact.  The sales process is all about building value for your prospective client.  If you did a good job and built value, they will buy from you.

Do you think I’ll ever buy from a company that has these same sales tactics…not  a chance. Incidentally, this Search Engine Marketing company selling services in Charlotte had a significant number of reviews on-line, from business people and at least half were extremely negative.  All shared similar experiences to mine

We’d love to hear from you if you had a similar experience.

Michael Beauchemin

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Certified Inbound Marketing Consultant committed to helping businesses grow sales through measurable, accountable marketing metrics.
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