Throw Your Prospect a Bone, Not the Entire Meal

John Tabita

Subject: Get More Sales Through Organic Website Promotion

Dear Owner,

I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting more organic (FREE) search engine traffic for your website.

  1. Your website is not coming in top pages of Google.
  2. Your site has not good Google back links, this can be improved further.
  3. Your website has some technical error, so that error needs to be fixed for a Good website.

If you want to know hundred such points about what your site needs, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with further detailed analysis in the form of a SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) SITE REPORT.

Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of Google. Being on the top left of Google (#1-#5 Organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation.

Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide your best time and phone number to call you.

I am sending you our “Plan Of Action” on SEO, On-Page optimization, Off-Page optimization and SMO services, please find the attachments.

3 attachments —

Explanation SEO Services
Plan of Action on on-page and off-page optimization
Plan of Action on Social Media Optimization

This isn’t the first such email we’ve received. And while you might be chuckling to yourself, thinking, “I’d never send an unsolicited email like that,” ask yourself how many times you’ve provided the same amount of free information to a prospect who’s never indicated any level of commitment to engage your services.

Before you give away free and valuable information (the type that can be handed off to a lower-cost competitor) here’s the question you must get answered:

If I can meet all of your expectations for an acceptable price, is there anything standing in the way to prevent you from hiring my firm and moving forward with this project?

Hidden within that question there are two key pieces of information you need to know:

  1. How committed is your prospect to this project?
  2. How likely is he to select you?

How Committed is Your Prospect?

I once sold lawn care door-to-door. We worked in pairs, each covering one side of the street. When I reached the end of the block, I found my partner talking with a homeowner on his lawn. As I approached, I heard the man asking a number of questions. Then my partner did a surprising thing: he handed the man his card, told him to call if he had more questions and walked away.

Once out of earshot, I said, “What are you doing? He was asking questions; he was interested.” To which he replied, “He was just jerking my chain.” My partner was a much better salesperson and recognized when a “prospect” isn’t really a serious buyer.

For years, salespeople have been trained to ask for the budget early in the sales call. But commitment is far more important to ascertain. Budget follows commitment, not the other way around. You need to know if this project is “mission critical” to the organization or not. Remember, you’re not only competing with other firms and/or freelancers, you’re also competing with the decision to do nothing.

How Likely is the Prospect to Select You?

Whenever I met with a prospect, one question I always asked is, “Why are you considering me?” I never had anyone refuse to answer it, and some of the responses I received were not what I expected.

If you don’t ask, you risk providing too much information to a prospect who has no intention of hiring you. The company may already have a preferred vendor, but their purchasing policy requires they get multiple bids—and you just happen to be one of the unlucky throw-aways. Or perhaps they’re using you to leverage their current supplier into lowering their price. If your prospect is evasive or can’t give a genuine reason why they’re considering you, maybe they’re not.

The value you bring is both your ideas and their execution. If you give your ideas away for free, it’s easy for the prospect to use a cheaper competitor, or do it themselves. Want to demonstrate your expertise? Then throw your prospect a bone—but don’t serve up the entire meal.

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  • http://www.SirBudProductions.com/ Mike B

    Odds are, for unsolicited customers, such as when going door to door, they weren’t thinking about the problem and aren’t planning to hire you. But, what about the case where you have been invited to submit a bid on a project. You know there are likely other companies submitting bids and maybe the client has already decided to go with their preferred vendor and only asking to meet the quota. If you know the client isn’t likely to select you, do you walk away completely or do you submit a bid anyways in hopes that you may convince the customer to take a second look?

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      It’s a hard choice. I would say if the prospect is unwilling to answer your questions regarding their selection criteria, you’re better off walking away.

      This is why I so strongly recommend cold-prospecting. Like you said, they weren’t thinking about the problem or planning to hire anyone. If they truly have a need, you’re not in a competitive bidding situation, so the only thing you’re competing against in that case is the decision to do nothing.

  • http://m2i3.com Jean-Marc

    You’re hitting a very good point here. It’s hard for a technical person who is moving into sales not to give everything from the get go. Problem solvers like to solve problems, not hook people.

    I particularly like your questions “Why are you considering me?”, it’s simple, and I can appreciate how much insight you can get from the answer.

    Good post John. I like reading you.


    Jean-Marc

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Problem solvers like to solve problems, not hook people.

      I’ve heard it said that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. It’s great to be a problem-solver. Just make sure you’re solving problems for the paying customers.

  • Nancy

    “If I can meet all of your expectations for an acceptable price..?”
    This is an interesting caveat. On more than just a few occasions I have had prospects ( who had come to me ) literally state that the acceptable price for a service/product was “free”. The quality and benefit was not in question here, only cost. Prospects now expect to be offered the first 3 courses of a meal with an option to bail, before they even sit at any table. Refusal to do so can be interpreted as a vendor’s difficult attitude. Perhaps this is just a symptom of our industry’s irregular nature. That is, in the mind of the client , some 19 year in India is fair competition for an SEO company with a degreed staff, thus thus causing each vendor to try to show value with “samples” of their expertise specifically tailored to the client their are after.

    Add to this that the original example seems to be the equivalent of “cold calling”. First attempting to generate a desire for a service, where previously there was none, only to quickly switch modes to I can provide that service.

    And Taking from what Mike B is saying. some other vendor may have a client’s “default preference”. It may even be obvious. Do you choose A) go all out to try to win that client over? or B) “Half-@ss” the bid realizing the client is just going through motions or fulfilling a company requirement, in the process reinforcing in the client’s mind that his preferred vendor was the right choice anyway.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      On more than just a few occasions I have had prospects ( who had come to me ) literally state that the acceptable price for a service/product was “free”.

      If I were sitting at, say, a tire dealer who told me this, I’d just invite myself to drive around back and help myself to 4 free tires, and observe his response. Sometimes you have to use an analogy your prospect can relate to.

      And Taking from what Mike B is saying. some other vendor may have a client’s “default preference”. It may even be obvious. Do you choose A) go all out to try to win that client over? or B) “Half-@ss” the bid realizing the client is just going through motions or fulfilling a company requirement, in the process reinforcing in the client’s mind that his preferred vendor was the right choice anyway.

      There’s no easy answer and it’s something I’ve struggled with. If the prospect is not forthcoming with what his selection criteria is, I would either walk away or submit a introductory document that I didn’t have to invest several hours preparing.

  • http://www.littlebirdwebservices.co.uk Little Bird

    Thanks John, another great tip!

    I’ve been in the self employed in the web business for about 4 years now and I can’t tell you how helpful learning to pre-qualify prospects, ask for budget and ascertain commitment has been. I occasionally still have time-wasting prospects but I haven’t been pumped for a weeks free consultancy “Hey, can you just write that into a report for me…?” before being dumped for a their original choice vendor in a long time. Thanks!

  • http://www.mattearly.com Matt Early

    I offer my services totally free of charge anyway. How should I contact a prospect without it sounding like I am trying to sell something? Matt x