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I read with interest a recent blog post on the Utah Web Services site that really hit home with me on how SEM and SEO are being sold and how they should be sold. SEM and SEO are inherently technical products. The reality, as pointed out so clearly by a CEO (read decision maker and controller of budgets) in this post, is that not everyone understands the technical nature of SEM/SEO: 

My message today is directed at all of those employed in any way with any of the following: SEO, SEM, PPC, SSM, or any other acronym that starts with the letter “s”. Unlike you, I am not quite as bright and new concepts don’t come quite so easily. I am, however, still very competitive and have the ability to write big checks for who or what I want.  

While I often hear sales reps and online companies complain about the lack of online sophistication of small and medium-sized business owners over the age of 50, the reality is that this group of “traditionalists” controls the purse string and makes the decisions. CEOs may not intuitively understand the opportunities presented by online media, but they are still open to ideas that enhance the competitive nature of their marketing programs. Learning to clearly explain how SEM and SEO works and demonstrate the potential value it would deliver to the business are fundamentals all online salespeople need to keep in mind if they want to be successful.

Bottom line is that the guys writing checks have a lot to learn … from the search industry. Remember when all is said and done that we are all in the people business, so handle with care. And some of that wealth will flow quickly to those with the ability and patience to work with us, even though our pace may be slower than you are used to, or comfortable with.  The Search Marketing Industry is on the front end of what could prove to be the greatest business opportunity in history. The rewards will only be realized however if each member of this elite and young group of professionals understand his or her own responsibilities to the overall health of the industry.  

Online sales teams need to remember and recognize the need for education and relationship building as key tenets when selling a technical product to an audience that needs advice and reassurance that this new media will actually deliver the results promised. While features and benefits are important to impart on the sales call, the fundamentals of understanding the business, clearly explaining how online marketing supports business goals, and building a trusting relationship remain the fundamentals of good selling.   

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