Many companies wonder whether it is better to invest in SEO or hire a salesperson. Although we are in the SEO business, I’ll do my best to provide a balanced answer to this question. (Incidentally, since my background includes marketing and sales management, I have been on both sides of the discussion many a time.)
Cost of a Sales Rep Vs. SEO
Obviously, there are many variables in the raw cost equation. As a starting point, an effective SEO campaign for a middle market or large company will require a monthly budget of at least $3,000. You can do the math from there, based on both your specific SEO needs and compensation data for your industry.
When making your cost calculation, be sure to consider sales rep benefits, and be sure to get an all-in proposal from the SEO agency with a fixed monthly cost.
Sales rep training and mentoring can be expensive, time-consuming activities that must be sustained over many months. SEO also involves ongoing review, agency interaction and a certain amount of ongoing education. In balance, the time you’ll need to train a sales rep probably exceeds the time required to do SEO by a wide margin in the first year, but after that, the differential will be small.
Chances for Success
Turnover for sales reps is notoriously high in many industries; again, you know the numbers for your own industry and your company’s track record. If you are like most companies, if one out of five sales reps succeeds, and the sales rep becomes a long-term producer, you are doing well.
SEO chances of success are much higher if the agency executes the right strategy and if the client provides the necessary support. SEO success and failure will take about a year to evaluate — about the same as with a new salesperson. It is, however, usually easier to change an SEO campaign for the better than to get a sales rep to develop new skills, improve work habits or change an attitude.
Not an Either-Or Proposition
It isn’t necessarily the case that considering SEO and a new sales rep is an either-or proposition. Think about it this way:
- SEO campaigns generate online sales leads.
- Online sales leads are turned over to the sales rep to be closed.
One of the greatest values of SEO is that it frees the sales team to spend more time closing deals than digging them up.
So, if you are contemplating a new sales hire to find more leads, you should give serious thought to investing in SEO. As SEO fills the lead pipeline, you will then be able to bring on a new sales rep to close all of those deals — an ideal situation for the sales department.
Want to discuss strategies for improving the effectiveness and balance of sales and marketing in your organization? Please contact us now. We are eager to learn more about your situation and see if we can give you any ideas.