After almost four years working on the sales side of PPC advertising, I can say one thing with certainty – no two opportunities are the same. You can absolutely refine a sales process and hit some general touchstones in most prospective client conversations, but you’ll never be able to plop an “A+B+C=sale” formula in place. Different accounts have different needs, histories, goals, personalities…the list goes on and on.
There is, however, one constant in that moving goal post – which is that you’re not closing a deal in one phone call or meeting.
I’ll pause here for someone to inevitably chime in and say, “Not true! I’ve closed a deal in one call before!” And hey, maybe you did! I might also then follow up and ask you how long that account was a client and whether your team had a difficult time ramping up with so little information…but I digress.
You know when you make a one-call close in the world of PPC? When you’ve been at that opportunity for a long time. When you’ve massaged that conversation for months, maybe even years, waiting for just the right time to engage in a working relationship. We call this the relationship sell because this is a client you earn over the long-term, not overnight.
What I want to do is help more of you master this process. So if you’re an Account Manager, maybe pause really quick and copy this link to send to your sales team – you’ll all benefit wildly. So here we go:
Don’t Be Afraid of “Just” an Introduction
Whether it’s at a conference, a referral from another client or even a call straight to your extension from someone looking for another member of your team – don’t waste an opportunity to introduce yourself. I’ll use our own event, Hero Conf, as a prime example. We have an attendee base that’s about 50% agency/50% in-house when it comes to their PPC environment.
Now one might say setting up conversations with those agency folks may not be worth my time, for obvious reasons (they’re an agency, I’m an agency….we’re competing probably…no sales opportunity) – but I disagree. For starters, sometimes marketing agencies get in over their heads and start offering PPC on a small level to clients as a piece of their scope of work. Those clients (both in number and current client budget) start to grow and suddenly they can’t manage all of the accounts, or have to hand off the larger ones to a larger team. What you’re looking at there is a possible white-label or referral program down the road.
Even the in-house attendees might not be the greatest initial target, but the same logic applies here. What if they’re a two-person team tackling six figures in spend and their budget grows exponentially and they need some consultative or expansion help? Maybe they’ll need a fresh set of eyes from an audit perspective eventually.
Make time to simply introduce yourself so that when/if that need arises, they’ll think of you first – the person who was willing to chat and not trying to force a sale on them from the word go.
Be A Resource
Let’s go back to that situation where you get a call, email or contact form from someone who doesn’t fit your typical minimum budget requirements. Or perhaps they’re just looking for an answer to a question they have about their account. Don’t shut them out! If you don’t have the right plan for them, get a few details and see if you can refer them in the right direction. Maybe there’s another agency or consultant who can do what they need if full management is what they’re looking for. The second situation is a little easier for me, probably – because if someone has a question about a campaign issue, I can usually find him or her some self-help answers via PPC Hero.
In a similar fashion to making friends with an in-house or agency connection who may not need your services right now, if you’re available to help someone out when there’s nothing for you to gain directly at the time…you’ll be at the top of their list when the opportunity arises.
Send Beneficial Information When It Comes Up, Without Them Asking
In the spirit of being a resource, when you come across something you think would be of particular interest to a contact you have (new Google feature, a news item that applies to their business, etc.), send it along! With no other purpose than being helpful or informative, you immediately give yourself a few points of awesome in the prospects eyes.
You may be catching on to a trend here, but then once there’s a need for some agency help…they’re going to think about the team who was simply there to offer some news or info.
Connect With Them Socially
First things first, I’m absolutely not suggesting you send the annoying auto-fill LinkedIn connection to everyone you meet. In fact, please don’t.
Send a personalized LinkedIn connection. Follow them on Twitter, and interact with them. Facebook is probably not necessary because it’s less of a business-based channel and most people use it as more of a personal medium. Follow their company on LinkedIn. Truly educate yourself on their industry ahead of them wanting to work with you. You’ll look, and be, more knowledgeable and invested in their business. That can help shorten the sales process down the road when they are ready for you. Speaking of…
Finally Your Phone Rings…
…and now there’s an opportunity. Want to take a guess why? People buy from someone they trust and have built a rapport. You weren’t pushy, you supplied extra information for them over time so it should come as no surprise to you that they’ve brought their business your way. Now this isn’t to say you won’t still have to sell, because you will. Find out if you can take a look at the account ahead of the engagement, get specific details on their performance goals and where they’re at currently against those goals, expansion and/or budget plans for the upcoming months or year, etc. What this process could mean for you, though, is that you’re able to make a sale in a week or two instead of months because the client is familiar with you, your team and your expertise.
To reiterate the drum beat here – be leery of an opportunity or client that falls in your lap and wants to close “today.” Be ready, willing and able to provide your connections with a little help along the way and then once they’re ready, the knock on your door will come.
Feel free to share your favorite relationship sell stories or comments for us below – and thanks for reading!