Driving Sales Through Effective SEO

Driving Sales Through Effective SEO

One of the most effective ways to fill your sales funnel is by driving targeted traffic to your website. Effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tells Google what your site is all about so that Google can then map people’s search to your site in the search engine results page. Driving sales through effective SEO can really grow your sales funnel.

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t something that should happen as an afterthought. If you are planning a blog post, a new page on your website or other content such as a new product on your store, it is important to consider SEO right at the start. If you do so then your post, page or offering will be more relevant, in demand and it will get more traffic, visitors and shares.

Here’s a checklist of the simple SEO tactics that can help your post, page or products get found:

SEO Checklist

1. Every page on your site shouFirst determine what your new page or blog post is going to be about and draft some pertinent keywords – i.e. words that your clients might use to search for your content and that describe what your post is all about. Go with your gut instinct and think about the words your customers use when asking you about this topic.Google suggestions - Small Business SEO Checklist

2. Use Google Trends to determine whether people are searching for these words or phrases. Google suggestions is also a great way to determine if this is a good topic, just start entering your word or phrase in Google and see how it completes it in the search dropdown that shows up. The suggestions that show up first are the most popular searches relating to your keyword. If you want to go really deep you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to determine the competition and value of your intended words or phrases (which isn’t ideal as it’s based on data from paid advertising and not overall search), or even better, a tool like Keyword Explorer from MOZ.

Another even easier way to determine the competition for a key word / phrase is to Google it and see how many results there are.

Your goal in this step is to determine phrases or words that have a high volume but low competition.

3. After doing the research in 2 above, determine a) your focus keyword / phrase, and b) secondary keywords that apply (use these in the text when writing your content). Craft your text and content around these.

4. To make it more likely that your page or post will be found when people search for it, the word / phrase that you have identified as your focus keyword / phrase should be used in the:

  • Title of your post
  • META title
  • META Description
  • Focus keyword
  • Alt Tags of your images
  • Text of your page – but not repetitively – you are writing for people not search engines! A good rule of thumb is 3 – 6 times for a 300 – 600 word post or page
  • In your headers and subheadings
  • URL

Yoast is a great tool to help you with this, if you are using WordPress I highly recommend it.

5. The META on your site might be the first impression anyone sees of your small business so take a little extra time to craft it well. When entering your META follow the META tag rules below- if you are using Yoast this plugin will help you with this:

Your META title (in purple in the image below) should be less than 56 characters, META description (below the URL in grey on the below)  should be less than 156 and it should compel people to click.

META Tags - Small Business SEO Checklist

SEO is Important

Small Business SEO ChecklistI meet a lot of people who think SEO is too technical so they simply avoid doing it but it doesn’t have to be and ignoring means you are losing out on lots of potential visits and shares. I hope that this simple SEO Checklist will encourage you to add SEO to your posts and pages. Doing so could be huge for your site and your sales!

Related posts by this author:

What is SEO

The importance of optimizing your website

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Let me let you in on a little secret. I love gatekeepers. I absolutely adore them and I’m dead serious. Do you know why? They keep competitors away from MY customers and keep other salespeople (who give up too easily or don’t have the proper skills) from reaching the decision maker’s I’m trying to sell.

Make sense?

Here are a couple of strategies and tips to get you started keeping your calendar full.

First, I’m going to assume you know who the buyer is at the company you are calling on. If not, the gatekeeper is NOT the person to ask. The red flag goes WAY up when you have to call them to find out. Never call and ask for “who handles the buying”.

One of the biggest advantages a professional salesperson has over an experienced one is confidence. And confidence is displayed in your voice inflection in this case.

When the gatekeeper picks up, your voice inflection should suggest you are calling an old friend or family member.

“Who’s speaking?”

If they say, “Who are you trying to reach?” I simply say this: “It’s Butch, is Bob around?” Notice I didn’t say Bob Smith or Mr. Smith, etc. I’m treating this like I’m calling an old friend that I’ve called a hundred times.

However, nine times out of ten the gatekeeper will answer your initial question with, “This is Sherry” to which you reply (again, very naturally) “Oh, hey Sherry its Butch, is Bob around?” Now, several things happen here:

  • Sherry thinks she is supposed to recognize my voice.
  • I didn’t ask to speak to Bob or if Mr. Smith was in or anything very formal—I simply asked if Bob was around.
  • Sherry assumes Bob and I know each other and that we’ve spoken before.
  • Sherry will almost feel as if Bob will be mad at her if she doesn’t put through the call from “his friend” Butch. Trust me on this one, I’ve done it hundreds of times.

This is not rocket science and I am NOT being deceitful. If Sherry asks if Bob is expecting my call, I will answer with a chuckle, “Well, probably not today, I was just going to pick his brain for a second.”

If Bob is not in and Sherry wants to take a message, I leave this: “Just tell him Butch called I’ll give him a buzz later.” Again, this is natural and friendly. Now, WRITE DOWN Sherry’s name because the next time you call, you are going to say, “Hey Sherry, its Butch did I catch Bob in this afternoon?” Now you know BOTH of them.

If you learn this strategy and use it naturally your success rate of getting past gatekeepers will increase dramatically. In fact, I’m going to say you will be SHOCKED at how easy it is to reach the decision maker—and you will come to love those gatekeepers that keep the “others” out!

Join SMEI for a webinar on January 20th where you’ll learn new tactics for filling up your calendar in 2015.

Butch Bellah

Does Creativity Belong in Sales?

Does Creativity Belong in Sales?

When I was a kid I was not afraid to be creative. Most of us, as kids, are inherently creative. I drew all the time and I drew everything I saw. I took all the art classes I could, starting with Saturday morning instruction from a television cartoonist and later progressing to regular classes at a local art museum, sitting among students who were two to three times my age. So, I grew up, graduated from the University of the Arts, and entered a professional world of New York design at a top branding agency.

After earning my MBA, I played down my design background. As adults, creativity doesn’t fit as comfortably into our world, especially in sales. But over the years, working with leading sales organizations around the world, I noticed an interesting pattern: sales demands creativity and innovation. I realized – even in the analytical world of sales forecasts and quotas – I relied on the lessons I had learned in art school to push my thinking and come up with better answers. It includes listening, understanding the customer, gaining new insight, getting beyond our standard offer, creating divergent ideas, pushing the customer’s thinking, and coming up with an answer that leads the customer ahead rather than simply meeting a requirement. Without creative thinking, sales is reduced to the role of order takers and replicators of the competition.

Sales creativity is not an elusive quality. It’s not for the few with natural talent – we all have it. It’s not only for sales people working in companies labeled by the business press as innovative. It’s not about eureka moments. Sales creativity follows a clear approach to get results.

I recently spoke to Tracy Tolbert, executive vice president of global sales at Xerox Services. For him, creativity is an essential part of the business and creativity is an essential characteristic of successful reps. “In almost every case, our most successful sellers are the most creative. We occasionally get a salesperson who’s in the right place at the right time, and it’s the perfect storm and they get a big deal, and that’s great. But those who deliver it quarter after quarter, year after year, are the creative thinkers, who put themselves in the client situation and figure out how to make the environment better. And by the way, that’s true for salespeople who are hunters, who are out there trying to find new clients, and it’s also true for our account executives who are managing existing customers. It’s the same kind of thinkers that are successful year after year.”

Innovation has to be a priority for the organization, says Tolbert, and not just the initiative-of-the-day. “You have to be relentless. You can’t just write about it in some newsletter one month saying, ‘Okay, well, make sure everybody’s got it.’ They have to get sick of hearing it from you, because then it becomes part of what they’re naturally thinking. You have to push, push, push and constantly expose your organization to creativity and the demand for innovation, or they just won’t pay attention.”

The consistent delivery of innovative ideas has paid off for Tolbert’s sales organization. For example, the CEO of a current customer came to one of Tolbert’s senior sales executives and told him about a financial problem they had. He essentially asked that executive to create solutions for his company’s budget crisis. “This sales executive just got directions from the CEO to take tens of millions of dollars of cost out of the organization,” says Tolbert. “He came to us and asked, ‘Hey how can you help me do this? Not in reducing the price on the service you already deliver for me, but here’s the rest of my organization. How can you help me take the cost out?’ It’s because we have a great relationship with the CEO and have delivered creative solutions in the past. We wouldn’t even be talking to these guys if we were not delivering service to them perfectly on the other side of the business.

“In response to this challenge, we have to be creative. We have to say, ‘Yes, we can think of new ways to deliver for you.’ I think our customers see us as really, really good creative thinkers around complex solutions. And they believe it because we’ve demonstrated it to them, rather than just talked about innovation.”

For Xerox, number 127 on last year’s Fortune 500 list, creativity belongs in sales. Where does it fit in your sales organization?

Mark Donnolo is managing partner of SalesGlobe and author of What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation and The Innovative Sale.

Eight Ways to Increase Sales in the Trust Crisis

Eight Ways to Increase Sales in the Trust Crisis

Join SMEI for a webinar on July 24, 2013 “The Trust Edge” with David Horsager.

We are in a crisis, and it’s not the financial one. At the World Economic Forum in China, world leaders got it right when they declared that our biggest crisis is a lack of trust and confidence. We are in a trust crisis and few people really understand the bottom line implications.

Trust not only affects credit and government relations, but it also affects every relationship. And as we know, sales is all about relationships, and your primary currency is not money – it’s trust. 

If you think trust is just a “soft skill,” consider the impact of Tiger Woods’ behavior off the golf course, which lost him millions of dollars in just a matter of weeks. One breach of trust at Penn State University could cost them $1 billion over the next decade. If you have a loan on your home, your mortgage payment is based on your credit score, which is essentially a trust score. The more the bank trusts you, the higher the score, the less you pay over the course of the loan. Trust impacts the bottom line.

Sales people can get caught up in seeking the newest sales tactic or closing tech­nique, but without trust, they won’t even get in the door. Without trust, you lose sales. But when individuals acquire what I call the trust edge—the competitive advantage you gain when others have a confident belief in you to do what is right, deliver what is promised, and to be the same every time, in spite of circumstances—it shows in every relationship, and eventually is demonstrated by increased sales.

Trust is the unique commonality of the most successful sales people. Obtaining this level of trust isn’t easy, so if you are looking for a quick fix, don’t look to trust. Trust is like a forest—it takes a long time to grow, and is easily burned down with a just touch of carelessness. The good news is that we can build this fundamental key to success by building and maintaining eight pillars of trust.

  1. Consistency: In every area of life, it’s the little things—done consistently—that make the big difference. If I am overweight, it is because I have eaten too many calories over time, not because I ate too much yesterday. It is the same in business. The little things done consistently make for increased sales and retention, and a higher level of trust. The great sales people consistently do the small, but most important things first. They make that call and write that thank you note. Do the little things, consistently.
  2. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust or distrust the ambiguous. Be clear about your mission, purpose, expectations, and daily activities. When a manager is clear in expectations, she will likely get what she wants. When we are clear about priorities on a daily basis, we become productive and effective. When a sales person is clear about the benefits, people buy.
  3. Compassion: Think beyond yourself, and never underestimate the power of sincerely caring about another person. People are often skeptical about whether a sales person really their best interests in mind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just an old saying—it is a bottom line truth. If followed, you will build trust.
  4. Character: Do what is right over what is easy. Sales people that have built this pillar consistently did what needed to be done when it needed to be done whether they felt like doing it or not. It is the work of life to do what is right over what is easy.
  5. Contribution: Few things build trust quicker than actual results. At the end of the day, people need to see outcomes. You can have compassion and character, but without the results you promised, people won’t trust you. Be a contributor that delivers real results.
  6. Competency: Staying fresh, relevant and capable builds trust. The humble and teachable person keeps learning new ways of doing things, and stays current on ideas and trends. According to one study the key competency of new MBA’s is not a specific skill, but rather the ability to learn amidst chaos. Arrogance and a “Been-there-done-that” attitude prevent you from growing, and they compromise others’ confidence in you. There is always more to learn, so make a habit of reading, learning, and listening to fresh information.
  7. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends – and being friends is all about building a connection. Trust is all about relationships, and relationships are best built by establishing genuine connection. Ask questions, listen, and above all, show gratitude—it’s the primary trait of truly talented connectors. Grateful people are not entitled, they do not complain, and they do not gossip. Develop the trait of gratitude and you will be a magnet.
  8. Commitment: Stick with it through adversity. People trusted General Patton, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Jesus and George Washington because they saw commitment and sacrifice for the greater good. Commitment builds trust.

Building trust with prospects and clients in this suspicious environment does not start with the economy, government, or even your organization. It starts with YOU—you can build these pillars and enjoy greater relationships, revenue and results.

Join SMEI for a webinar on July 24, 2013 “The Trust Edge” with David Horsager.

David Horsager, MA, CSP, is an award-winning speaker, author, producer, and business strategist who has researched and spoken on the bottom-line impact of trust across four continents. He is the author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line which gives the framework for building trust in at work or at home. Get free resources and more at www.DavidHorsager.com and www.TheTrustEdge.com.

Breaking Through the Wall: 7 Ingredients for Sustainable Performance

Breaking Through the Wall: 7 Ingredients for Sustainable Performance

Chris Yonker is a  consultant and performance expert. You can get more valuable resources on his website at www.chrisyonker.com

Never before in history have sales professionals been asked to do more in their roles, which can lead to a constant state of working at the office and at home.  Many organizations are red-lining, and it can appear that everything is hunky-dory.  This is an illusion.

Whether your sales team consists of highly motivated individuals who want to move into management or people who are driven to be in sales for a lifetime, each of them has a potential performance plateau.  This set point works much like a thermostat that regulates room temperature and is why most people are not able to continually improve their performance and productivity.  If someone is truly driven to grow and reach their levels of optimal performance and productivity, they must be willing to change.  They also need to integrate 7 Key Areas of Mastery in order to adjust their set point and break through the impending plateaus.  These 7 Areas of Mastery are:

  1. Mastering Purpose:  Companies have a vision, mission, and purpose. But how much effort is put into helping individuals align with their own purpose with the purpose of the organization?  Let’s face it–few people will occupy a position for a long period of time.  How can we help them understand their role as it relates to adding value to others and also contributes to their own projection to the next destination in their career?
  2. Mastering Mindset:  The paradigms and filters we use internally have a massive impact on our ability to not only be effective, but to adapt, problem solve, grow, and change.
  3. Mastering Time:  Time does not exist.  Today, people are busier than ever before but few are optimally productive. While we use time as a unit of measure to track and plan, we cannot truly manage time.  We can only manage ourselves in relationship to time.  Tony Schwartz, author of How we are Working Is Not Working, explains in his book that demand today is overwhelming our capacity.  By understanding how we can master ourselves in relation to time, we can then truly live an optimal work-life balance.
  4. Mastering Engagement:  Engagement is about focus, discipline, and truly being present.  A person’s ability to stay focused in the moment and give 100% mentally, physically, and emotionally to the task at hand impacts their execution quotient.
  5. Mastering Communication:  Good communication is more than just “listen more and talk less.”  It is truly understanding another person’s model of the world and being able to articulate to it.  Typically sales people tend to sell the way they like to buy.  This works great… if everyone is like you.
  6. Mastering Empowerment:  Knowing what to manage and track in this Age of Information is critical to all management.  As is knowing how to build a team of people, align strengths, and create structure so each individual has the freedom to apply their creativity to executing the requirements of their position.
  7. Mastering Sales:  Sales is not just about dials and metrics.  It’s the ability of one human being to influence another human being toward a better situation.  Knowing how get attention, create trust, and to navigate a prospect’s current beliefs are paramount to truly mastering the process of influence.

These seven areas to master are rather symbiotic. Most organizations only focus on one or two of them when developing their sales team and their culture.  As a result, they leave a tremendous amount of sales and personal performance on the table, which they try to squeeze out of their people by working them harder.  Business team leaders need to approach how they build their environment at a holistic level and truly integrate all seven areas of mastery.  Then, and only then, can they develop members of the team to their true potential.  In the coming weeks, we’ll explore each of these seven areas in more depth.

Join SMEI for a webinar on the topic of “Breaking Through the Wall” on May 15, 2013.

The Post-Sell: Crucial First Steps to Retain Your New Client

By Nigel Assam, SMEI Baltimore

What happens after you close the sale? How do you make sure your client won’t get buyer’s remorse? How do you get future business?

At April’s SMEI Knowledge Session presented by the Baltimore Chapter of Sales & Marketing Executives International, Jason Dixon, executive vice president of Neuberger & Company, Inc., spoke to an intimate gathering of members of the local business community about meeting clients’ expectations.

Clients will leave you for any number of reasons and they may not always be honest about why. Some of us have heard the following excuses: “We’ve chosen to go in a new direction,” or “It’s not you, it’s us,” or any other similar attempt at justifying a decision.

Sometimes it just may be that you did not meet their expectations, while other times your competition stole them away.

1. In the Post Sell, Jason explained that the first danger is the back out. You’re just at the point in negotiations when the contract is close to being signed when the client calls to say he’s changed his mind. One way to avoid this scenario is by having the “tough conversation.”

In the tough conversation, you’ll warn the client about the pitfalls of backing out and why it’s in his or her best interests to stay the course. By having this conversation, you’ll also put yourself in the role of trusted advisor.

Since there is the likely danger of your competition entering the picture, it’s important to inform your client about this. Explain why the competition won’t be able to deliver the same quality as you can. By coaching your client about your competition, he’ll be ready to counter their offers of promising lower costs and other benefits when they come calling.

2. After you’ve secured the deal, it’s crucial to have a communication process in place. How much will you be talking to your client? Between the two of you, it’s paramount to set up a schedule so you’ll know when and how often there’ll be in-person meetings. These in-person meetings are important for updates on your progress and grading, during which time small milestones are shown and you can prove that expectations are being met.

As part of the communication process, you’ll have to define what gets you fired. We all want to avoid this topic, hesitant to plant any negative thoughts in our client’s head. But it’s vital to learn why your client ended the relationship with your competition. This way, both you and the client will have a better understanding of each other. You’ll also have further understanding of your client’s needs.

During the relationship, it’s also necessary to keep a Fuzzy File. “It’s adding the personal touch, knowing personal information such as birthdays, hobbies, things like that,” Dixon said. “You do a little background research in order to know who your client is. I sent a birthday greeting to a connection on LinkedIn and it took no more than eight seconds.” It makes the client happy.

3. Finally, how and when do you ask for referrals? How do you get future business for both you and your client? The best time to ask for referrals, Jason advised, is when the contract is being signed. “That’s the happiest moment in the relationship. You’ve gained your client’s trust, he’s signing the contract and now paying you.”

But how do you ask for referrals even before you’ve actually delivered on your promises and met the client’s expectations? Using Emerson’s Law, “If you want more, give more,” offer the possibility of future business to the client. If you know of someone who could use your client’s services, mention this to him.

If you don’t yet know of anyone, you can simply put the idea in the client’s head by simply saying, “Hey Bob, if I know of anyone who could use your services, I’ll let you know, and I’d hope you’d keep me in mind for others.” Doing this may bring to mind an actual lead. It also lets your client know you care about his success.

Remember, even in the post sell, you’re still selling – but you’re no longer trying to win the client; you’re selling dependability to retain your client.