How Not to Pitch a (Not?) Potential Client

Tonight I got yet another pitch from an SEO company offering to get my website to “the top of the search engines” since I’m not getting enough social media and search engine traffic because I’m doing things wrong.

Tip one, don’t insult potential clients, that starts you off on the wrong foot.

Instead of: “You don’t get enough traffic because you stink and you’re doing things wrong.”

Try:  “Wouldn’t you love more traffic? Here’s how I can help you!”

See how much better that feels?  Yes, negativity and pain sell.  But I’m not talking about writing a headline for a sales letter here, I’m referring to the whole tone of the approach.

And yes, this pitch came from spammers who just want to reduce my PayPal balance, but the interesting thing to me this time was the pitch and I think it’s useful to break down and make sure that we aren’t making these mistakes in our own marketing.

So why’s this got me a bit cranky? 

Like most people on the planet, I don’t want to be sold.  I want you to allow me to buy the services I want, when I feel I need them.

Let’s go over what they did wrong and how you can make sure that your pitches don’t come off as spammy, unprofessional and as if you’re either deceptive or don’t know your area of expertise.

They said I don’t rank well because:

1.  My social profile is not available in top social media websites.

2.  My site has only 13 Google backlinks.

Then they offered me a free website audit and asked for my phone number.  (I didn’t send it.)

First mistake: not targeting well.

I’m not in the market for SEO services.  It’s a wasted pitch.  I also don’t want to purchase a surfboard or join a men’s hair club.  Try selling me a snowboard, chargers chocolate covered coffee beans, or almost anything from ThinkGeek and you’d be a heck of a lot closer to a sale.

A quick search at my site would reveal that I’ve posted several times that I’m happy with my search engine traffic AND that it’s not a focus for me.  Why does this matter?  If you really wanted to sell me on it, you’d have to get into my brain and realize that I need convinced it’s worth more of my energy.

I was recently convinced to invest in a video marketing program.  I already have a couple of great video resources and I’m still resistant to it.  So, did I want to learn more about video marketing?  Not really, but a live presentation followed by an informational webinar sold me on it’s value.  I can be swayed.  So can  your buyers, if you know you need to sway and educate them instead of pitching them.

Second mistake: doing no research.

Google me.  Seriously.

Or look at the links that were on the page you contacted me from.

I’m on Twitter with 9,400 followers.  I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, G+, YouTube, and the list goes on.  Two seconds could have shown them my “social profile” is out there and not hard to find.

Third mistake: either fudging the truth to scare me into buying or not knowing what the heck they’re doing.

Yes, Google shows 13 backlinks to my site.  Yay!  They DID do a bit of research after all!

It’s dangerous to assume the person you want to sell your services to knows nothing about it.  Never pretend you know something you don’t, or that you know more about it than you really do, because it will backfire at some point.

Be honest.  It’s cool to be willing to learn how to do something but not cool to pretend you’re an expert on a subject when you’ve just finished reading the “for Dummies” book about it.  (Not knocking that series, I particularly liked “Living Gluten Free for Dummies” and my digestive system thanks them for publishing.)

Their approach here backfires because I know that any SEO consultant worth their salt knows Google does not show every link they know about and that means that it’s not a good measurement.

Here, from a real expert:

“Google has only ever showed a small sample of linkage data. They know of many many links that they do not display using the link: command.”  (Source: SEOBook’s brilliant website)

Why would they mention the 13 links?  Either they really think Google’s backlink check is a good way to measure links, which tells me they don’t know what they’re doing, or they are telling me that in order to mislead me into thinking I desperately need their help.

This makes me uncomfortable.  Were I in the market, I’d want to hire someone both knowledgeable and honest — they might be one or the other but they aren’t both.

A few more quick tips for credibility they didn’t get the memo on…

  • Don’t spam.
  • Use a professional email address.  Don’t be  Be
  • Include real contact info in your email instead of asking for the prospect’s info while not offering your own.
  • Follow basic style rules (ALL CAPS is yelling, don’t yell at your prospects).

Too judgemental?

I probably shouldn’t judge based on one email.  But since I do know how to use Google I quickly confirmed they’re spammers.  Suspending that reality for a moment…

Maybe they’re a legit company.  Maybe they’ve got someone else doing their marketing who needs more oversight.  Maybe they do know what they’re doing professionally but their sales process just needs work.

What I do know is that I wouldn’t hire them based on that email and in the world today you’ve generally got one shot at someone’s attention.  We’ve got to try not to blow it.

How can you sell better?

Forget sales methods like pitching people randomly via email or contact forms on their websites.  Unless you’re going after the big fish and take the time to do your research and know who they are and what they want, cold calling style isn’t going to work great.

Use inbound marketing methods (like sharing fabulous content, showing people you know what you’re doing).  Try blogging, newsletters, content-packed autoresponders, ecourses, article marketing, guest blogging, teleseminars, webinars, and so on.  They work because they help us prove that we’ve done our research and we know our stuff — and they draw people to us who want what we’ve got to offer.

Attract clients to you like a magnet instead of attempting to snare anyone and everyone in a trap.  It’ll work better and your clients will be much happier.

And please, don’t try to sell me search engine optimization (or an email database, or anything pharmaceutical) through my contact form. I love my current opt-in email subscribers and nothing needs enlarged, thanks.

To top off all of the above, the email ended with a note that they found my site from online marketing but didn’t click.  I don’t do pay per click or other paid advertising right now… and yes, by this point I’m giggling at all the irony.

You and I better than that.  Let’s make sure our sales pitches show it!

What are your “pet peeves” around being sold to or selling?

Image Credit: inxti/StockFresh

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  1. Doing research and using that research to help you target is key. I recently wrote an article about research tools for SEO. There are tons of keyword research and page rank tools out there. Making use of them to identify keywords and then using search features to help get resources that are current and relevant is key to an SEO strategy.
    Jon Anscher recently posted… The Four Pillars of SEO: An Approach to Content StrategyMy Profile

    1. Exactly, Jon! Now see that shows you know what you’re doing. ;)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… The Business Blogger’s Ultimate Guide to WordPress PluginsMy Profile

  2. Michelle,
    What a great post. When I started I was open to everyone’s email. I knew nothing and they all sounded like they knew what they were doing. Because there were so many offers, I easily got overwhelmed and became very careful about what I signed up for. I read a lot of emails from the same person, I checked the sites of the people who gave testimonials and I learned to read between the lines. I’m alrready keeping my New Year’s resolution to use my unsubscribe button sooner and more frequently – 3 more went to permanent trash tonight..

  3. Nice post thanks Michelle. I have previously been a LION on LinkedIn but spammers are making me reduce my number of groups and take very strong action to prevent people contacting me.

    I definitely agree that too many are trying to sell their services without making anything more than the most cursory efforts to “profile” you and your potential needs. The shame is that LinkedIn is falling victim to spammers too.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Michelle. I’ve actually had a couple of salesmen for SEO companies CALL me. That is what irritates me the most. They expect me to make a decision after listening to their 30 second “commercial,” while I was in the middle of something else.

    I approach sales in a completely different way. I see needs every day that I can fulfill. I send a nice e-mail to the correct contact person that explains how I might be able to fulfill that need. I leave my contact information for them if they are interested or have more questions. If I received something like that, I would be much more likely to actually read it.
    Jen Simons recently posted… E-Mail Tips – Draining the SwampMy Profile

  5. I keep getting that same type of e-mail and I can’t delete them fast enough. You’re right that insults don’t work. Maybe these people don’t know the “you catch more flies with honey” saying. Anyone who wants to sell something to others needs to remember the “what’s in it for me?” rule. Prospects want to know how you’ll be able to help them, not how horribly they’re running their business.

    It’s all about benefits, benefits, benefits. Thanks for articulating what so many of us are feeling. I’d love to set up your blog post as an autoresponder to these annoying spammers!
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… Organized Blogging: Better Content in Half the TimeMy Profile

    1. Ha ha! If only they’d read it.

      And yes, focus on how we can help!

      It’s frustrating because spammers like that give internet marketers a bad name when really so many of us are legitimate and care both about our services and the results our clients get.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Find the Right Image, FasterMy Profile

  6. Totally agree in your point Michelle. Its been to hard to find the quality assurance nowadays and really hard to trust anyone directly. Thanks for sharing this one. Its very helpful to me and I get lots of ideas on how to prevent this mistakes.
    Jerzie recently posted… Solid Foundations for Better VisionMy Profile

    1. Glad this was helpful, Jerzie.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Allow. Sparkle. Inspire.My Profile

  7. I think that in those cases people are just worried about meeting a sales goal. They were not really curious as to why it is that you handle your internet pressence the way you do. It’s hard to find people who offer you something that goes accordingly to your profile and M.O. I’m glad you’re telling it like it is. :D
    Chris recently posted… Feeling philosophical and free…My Profile

  8. OMG I could go on forever about this one! LOL and I have to say my BIGGEST pet peeve is when you find a product that you actually like, what to promote, and feel it’s something you can share with others but right now it just is not in the budget, the distributor (sales person, consultant, upline, whatever you want to call them) totally blow you off. What?? No sale?? NEXT!!!! Really? Wow! Okay so I cannot afford this right now, but I would still like to be part of the bigger picture and share X product/site/program with others. But now I have this nasty taste in my mouth from one of X company’s consultant.

    another pet peeve is the constant buy buy buy emails once you sign up to a website … Okay, I like the featured articles and stuff, but quit sending me the side emails about this or that or buy this or join this. The sad thing is that if i opt out of that email campaign a lot of the times I opt out of the whole things and then I no longer get the useful featured articles. :(

    I prefer being “wooed” and I also appreciate those out there that understand that sometimes a potential client/consumer just cannot afford it right now. I also appreciate those that step up and say “hey, lets help you build up to afford product X” or give an option to just receive X newsletter and not receive the pitches every other day.
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Thank You!My Profile

  9. You’re 100% right about being sold vs. offering me your services. It’s a much easier sale when you give me the benefits, rather than insult me or the competition. Years ago, my father was going to buy a new mattress, bear with me here, and the salesman at the store told him “Oh you don’t want to buy from ABC Mattresses, they sell used mattresses (which is illegal, btw) and they won’t tell you about it. Plus, they’re just awful if you have a problem”. My Dad said “If you’re a decent businessman, you wouldn’t need to put your competition down with insults and lies, you could just sell me on your product by being honest and upfront”.

    Many times, cost isn’t the deciding factor in a purchase, it’s how you’re treated and how the seller presents themselves.
    GrowingMyBiz recently posted… Write Offs for your businessMy Profile

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