If you are reading this as a business person and tell me that you’ve never had a client contact you in a panic, then you are a flat-out liar or must have the most amazing product or service on the face of the planet.
For the rest of us, this is something that happens to all of us from time to time.
In the search industry, all it takes is for one over-zealous sales manager trying to make a name for themselves or most times, trying to cover their own ass since they haven’t performed.
A great example of this is when you are performing services for a client that has multiple locations – either by offices/departments/branches etc, and you are on the hook to deliver for each location.
The first thing to do when you get have this encounter is to take a deep breath and analyse the situation before you reply. Too many times my knee-jerk reaction could’ve damaged a relationship severely. Instead, be sure to understand what they are reacting to and then apply your expertise to the situation.
The great thing about search is that you are selling a relationship of trust to your clients. SEO is not a product that can be swapped in and out. This is essential in maintaining your level of professionalism as that is part of what they are paying you for. (It also provides them an “out” should you not live up to the expectations set forth from the start)
Review your contract. So many times a client will hit the panic button when they ask why they aren’t ranked for a certain phrase – that’s the time to show them what you’re responsible for. It also provides a chance for your to re-assert your position as the expert for this service, and re-affirm them in their decision to hire you.
If it is performance based, take the time to research the issue and provide a list of possible reasons as to why there was a drop in the rankings, and more importantly, provide a list of action items that will be taken moving forward.
Another part that a lot of time is spent on is instructing the latest hire on your methodologies. You should have a defined and agreed upon document that defines what you are responsible for on a month to month basis. This way there are no grey areas, and new people entering the scene can’t add any scope creep to the contract.
I can’t count how many times the contract has thwarted the attempts of some clients trying to get more services for free. So, to recap, here’s the list:
- Take a deep breath and analyse the situation
- Review your contract – are you responsible for the issue at hand?
- If performance is the issue, address it head on and define the next steps to be taken
- Have a document that clearly outlines what you provide to the client per your contract
- Remain a professional – this is a relationship business after all
Hope these tips can be useful to you!