Speak with any consultant, SEO, PPC or otherwise and you’ll hear at some point a 'complaint' they just can’t get their clients to say yes to their strategy ideas and recommendations.
It’s inevitable that clients will not be able to carry out every recommendation you may have. And let’s be honest, sometimes after looking back the idea isn’t always as earth shattering as we initially thought.
Part of being a great consultant is being able to pivot and take the project in a new direction when this happens. However, there are certain instances where a proposed strategy is critical to the success of the project and therefore to the client's business (ALWAYS the ultimate goal).
When you get a “No” to a strategy idea that falls into this bucket, you shouldn't just pivot in a new direction; you should sit back and analyze where the disconnect occurred and how you can get your client to understand the impact.
As I’ve been working in the Search space for over 6 years now, I’ve been challenged with this type of situation hundreds of times. Each time I’ve gotten a “we can’t do that” response, I’ve taken it as a learning opportunity to step back, evaluate and analyze my approach, and revise my next attempt to better connect with the client, often times re-proposing the same strategy idea!
By using the “No’s” as a learning opportunity and understanding how to better connect with clients to get them to approve my strategy idea it’s not by my mistake that I’ve been able to create account growth across PPC accounts for multiple years with increases of 1000+%, 800+%, 300+%, etc. And years ago, to get my SEO recommendations implemented, from linking strategies to content generation.
Growing the PPC accounts I am proud of, but what I am even more proud of is that by growing the accounts, I’ve helped my clients businesses grow as well – This is what the ultimate goal of getting your clients to being 'Yes Men' (& women) should always be!
So while this list is exhaustive, here are 10 tips that I’ve found to help connect with clients and get them to be Yes Men (& women).
Tip #1 – Honesty is the best policy
The age old idiom rings true in any partnership.
Start off a client relationship hiding the truth and you’ll find yourself covering your tracks instead of working on what matters to the clients business.
I’ve always found that by being an open book, from having clients own accounts (& therefore having the ability to login and see how things are going at any time) to being completely open about what exactly I am working on and all the details of the strategy, clients value the transparency.
Transparency builds a relationship.
A relationship builds trust.
Trust builds Yes men.
Tip #2 – Be Proactive
No one bats 100% all of the time.
As such, not every single strategy idea will result in success.
The key is to always be proactive in setting expectations, reporting on results and calling out failures FIRST.
If you notice your Adwords conversions take a dreadful downward trend for a few days after you implemented a change or the linking strategy you executed is not leading to the expected outcome – Be the FIRST to call this out.
It’s always better to be the one to call out a failed test and have a game plan ready for how to turn things around!
Tip #3 – Say “I’ll look into it”
Don’t answer questions on the fly if you don’t know the answer with 100% confidence.
When I first started at SEER 5 years ago, I knew little to nothing about SEO, my focus had always been Media & PPC. I used the phrase "Let me check with the team" more times than not and I never once had a client demand an answer on the spot.
Do your homework, tap your resources, get the accurate answer for your clients.
They will always appreciate the correct answer versus the fast answer (Check out Rand Fishkin’s take on this).
Tip #4 – Always do what is best for the client
Agencies overall have an unfortunately nasty reputation for doing what is best for THEM, not what is best for the client.
Our focus at SEER has been the complete opposite – ALWAYS do what is best for the client, even if that means it may decrease budgets for you or cause a pause in a project.
Check out Wil’s post where we outlined strategies for slowing down payments, or pausing projects when it benefits the client.
Tip #5 – Know what resources are available, or aren’t
Resources to carry out recommendations when it comes to things like developing content for example, can be a hindrance for driving clients toward success.
Without understanding resource situations for your clients, your strategy recommendation may have been shot down for a simple reason that you can offer help on or better yet build directly into your recommendation!
Tip #6 – Track your results
Nothing is worse than hearing a really great idea, hear it was implemented, and then hear crickets.
Before you propose any great strategy, be sure you have a plan to track and report on results throughout the execution phase. This is key to how SEER has developed our processes.
Tip #7 – Prove it
Nothing helps a client see the benefit to their business quite like showing them real results.
Do you want your client to buck up for a linking strategy? Show them what success you’ve had with a similar strategy for another client!
Tip #8 – Understand the BUSINESS
Even if you are the PPC consultant, or SEO consultant, you need to understand your clients’ business, not just the small slice of the pie you focus on.
What are the overall goals for the company? What future initiatives are they focusing on?
By understanding the business, you can tie how your PPC strategy recommendation or SEO strategy recommendation ties back to the overall business goals, which ultimately is why they are investing in PPC or SEO. Check our Ryan's Post on Talking Revenue With Your Clients.
Tip #9 – Be a student
You should always be pushing yourself to learn more – about the clients business, industry, about your own industry, about competitors, etc.
The more knowledge you bring to the table, the better strategy recommendations you can propose that tie back to the clients business.
Tip #10 - Be persistent
Hearing “No” to a strategy idea that you really believe will drive success for the client can make you feel defeated and feel intimated to bring up future “great” ideas.
However, it’s important that each time you hear a “No” you don’t give up or get frustrated that you have a “No” client.
Instead, evaluate the situation – it’s likely that there was a miscommunication in how you presented your idea, how it ties into the clients overall business goals or even who you presented the strategy to.
Analyze what you can do differently the next time to help get your strategies approved that will drive success for the clients business!
You can only understand the overall business and goals by becoming a true partner and become engrained in the clients business and industry. To get your ideas and strategies approved by clients consistently, you need to earn the trust & clearly tie everything back to driving success, not just for PPC or SEO (for example), but for the overall business!