Why It’s Hard To Sell SEO To C-Level Executives

Pitching SEO to C-level executives can be a frustrating experience: Agencies are often met with indifference or an attitude almost approaching hostility. However, with a little planning and flexibility, C-level pitches can be effective. Here are a few major reasons why you’re having trouble getting the C-level exec to say yes.

  1. Some execs just don’t understand the technical ins and outs of SEO — and they really don’t want to. If the pitch is highly technical, you’re liable to be tuned out after five minutes. But a lot depends on the background of the exec in question. One who has come up through the ranks of, say, finance, may not have much of a natural interest in marketing. On the other hand, an exec who has a background in sales or marketing may be highly interested in the details of SEO. So, the question is: How well do you know the background and interest level of the executive(s) you’re pitching?
  2. You’ve reached too high. Although it’s fundamentally a good sales strategy to sell at the highest possible level, it can backfire if the exec in question relies on someone lower on the totem pole to make the call on which agencies to use and in which types of marketing campaigns to invest. If you go over the head of that individual, or lavish too little attention on that individual at the pitch, then you will wind up with indifference from the C-level exec and resentment from the actual decision-maker. So, the question is: Do you really understand who makes the decision? 
  3. You’re talking too much about SEO and not enough about business. Even if the exec is interested in SEO, he or she is bound to be more interested in the bigger picture of profitability, sales growth, marketing reach, brand image, brand consistency, internal team building and other broader issues. So, even though SEO revolves mainly around generating leads or e-commerce revenue, you should consider pointing out how SEO addresses some of those broader issues. For instance, a well-executed SEO campaign has the effect of improving content quality, which has the effect of improving brand image. Therefore, the question is: Does your pitch address the true needs of the C-level executive?

Over to You

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