Sales always has a voice. Revenues have to grow, and anything else is a failure.
But now, many companies have a near-death experience because the sales landscape has radically changed.
Years ago, a salesperson had a valuable Rolodex. The salesperson nurtured the relationships it represented with calls, visits and likely more. They met up at conferences, happy hours and golf outings. The biggest clients would even get invited to company parties and perhaps retreats.
Of course, the Rolodex has evolved into CRMs and the like. But now, it’s just not as useful. The value of a salesperson’s list of names is fundamentally gone.
The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly forced salespeople to shift their behavior. They could not meet with clients in person anymore. They found that clients working remotely no longer have a receptionist who can personally hand them a message.
The names they carefully gathered no longer answer their phones. But people respond to email and voicemail messages infrequently.
Reaching someone is basically a game of tag until they quit or surrender.
As a result, relationships have often come to a screeching halt.
Sales networking just isn’t as valuable as it once was.
So a salesperson who used to depend on relationships, meetings, conferences and calls is suffering. And where salespeople still have a loud voice, that voice is now grumbling. The lead sources have dried up and their income is taking a beating.
Who’s to blame?
If sales can’t meet their numbers, everyone in the company is impacted. So Management looks to Sales and demands an explanation.
Of course, it is Marketing’s fault. Their job is to provide leads.
Or it’s Management’s fault. The company should have seen it coming.
Sales executives should have known that their outside sales force was going to suffer, and the company should have invested more heavily in digital lead management. They should have had a survival plan to target new prospects. They should have taken their website to new heights instead of relying on something about to die.
Most salespeople cannot spell SEO or PPC. They have never written content. So regarding the company website, they often have a “build it and they will come” expectation (after all, the internet is free, right?).
In their defense, for a long time, an outside sales force could be relied upon to grow revenues. The sales processes got results. Therefore, the “if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it” approach to marketing used to work.
They simply did not know.
So, surprise – your outside sales team is no longer effective.
- They may be going to conferences, but attendance at events is still down by 75%. And the prospects who do attend are not decision-makers.
- They may still be calling their (now old) contacts. More likely than not, these people have changed jobs. In any case, the contacts do not answer their calls.
- Reaching out to former client companies doesn’t pan out either. The next regime has no idea who you are and certainly has no brand loyalty.
And so the business is suffering.
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What to do?
How do you solve the drying up of sales? The answer will vary. Or in the mantra of SEO, “It depends.”
Somehow you need to generate leads for your sales team. This takes sharpshooter precision, and you have many options depending on your budget.
You can buy ads (PPC) and maybe earn some quick wins.
You can buy into the “flood the web with content” approach, with or without a boost from influencers (it may not help, but hey, you have to do something).
You could buy links (but steer clear of this – it’s the kiss of death). You could accept placed-elsewhere content as sold by snake oil SEOs.
Or you can decide that your survival depends upon doing it right.
The most valuable salesperson
So far, it is clear that the world is slow to recover from the impacts of the last few years. The remote work paradigm is not going away, and sales must adapt. Change is needed.
It is also clear that a cheap solution is money wasted. And in some industries, the outside salesperson is doomed if you cannot provide leads.
In today’s sales reality, your company website is your most important salesperson.
Do SEO as if your survival depends upon it.
And whatever you do, do not hire the cheapest solution, thinking there is no difference. There is a difference if you want to rank on the first page out of 10 million competitors for any keyword that matters.
Here is my favorite analogy for generating leads: If you want to catch fish, you must use the bait the fish are biting and fish where the fish are. In practical terms:
- Define the ideal fish – a suitable large-fish client, not always a whale.
- Find a desired outcome that the ideal fish has been looking to solve.
- Build a program that delivers those specific results for that ideal fish.
- Find out where the ideal fish are hanging out and put an offer in front of them.
- Convert the fish with a pressure-free, trusted expertise sales approach
Sounds simple, right?
What is simple is not always easy. An expert SEO consulting services company may be needed to help you get that message to a lot of fish.
Then target others, rinse and repeat.
Bottom line, if you find that your leads are diminishing, it is likely because your website traffic is suffering. And that is best addressed with SEO.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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