So much value, but prospects don’t listen

If your sales teams are going to become fearless competitors, they must be able to engage prospective clients. so let’s look at a problem that vexes many sales teams — the inability to develop quality leads.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this message:

  • Prospects are stupid (CEO of a PPC firm)
  • We fired our entire sales force and experienced no drop in revenue (That same CEO)
  • A rant by another SEO firm (below)

Here’s what that SEO wrote:

On numerous occasions, especially over the last six months, I have spoken with prospective clients about what we see today in their campaigns.  Most often, this is conducted with access to their Google account and all conversion data.  We point out instances of what I would classify as gross mismanagement of the search campaigns and ultimately, they say they are sticking with their current vendor.

I have gone through this over and over again in my head and the most logical reasons I can come up with can be classified as complacent, jaded or nearsighted.

Complacent: Search works for almost everyone.  It typically outperforms most other channels and is considered a rock star  among marketing mediums.  So if your goals are being met, is the thought that you don’t want to rock the boat? Or are the opportunities being presented beyond belief and/or comprehension?

Jaded: Does your workload exceed bandwidth?  You would normally have interest, but you are just burn-out and the mere idea of entertaining vendor proposals only sounds like additional work.

Nearsighted: Does it seem like the long-term outlook is too far removed from the short-term investment of time?  Is the cost benefit not there?

What is fascinating about this is the response from one of their customers.  Click More to read his response:

With that said, let me offer some perspective from the client side. These days, I get a half-dozen calls a day from search agencies. The pitch is always the same: “your agency does it wrong, we do it right, you’d be an idiot not to switch to us.” There’s usually also a distinct whiff of, to borrow a phrase I recently read, “you must be complacent, jaded or nearsighted.”

This is, to put it mildly, a lousy attitude. Worse, it never works.

Clients aren’t knuckleheads. What we are is busy.

For the most part, marketers are generalists, not specialists. They juggle a million things including search. As such, they must do daily triage: what is the most important thing for me to focus on today? On many days, paid search — even if it’s not performing as well as it should — is not at the top of that list.

My response:

What are the lessons from this exchange for marketers everywhere?

  1. People are very busy.  Be patient.  Be gentle.
  2. Use the carrot and not the stick.  Educate, don’t sell.  Give them examples, not product pitches.
  3. Develop deep understanding.  You want trust.  Listen.  Attend conferences.
  4. Lead generation is something you must do ALL the time — mix the modes too.

If your firm is having this problem, I’d love to discuss my ideas with you.  Why don’t you call (516) 284-4930 or send an email to

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