We hear you, choosing an SEM or SEO consulting firm can be tough. You want to make sure they tailor their services specific to your goals and don’t want a cookie-cutter service.
There are ways to funnel out the ineffective firms from the effective ones, and it’s all in what you ask them when having the conversation of what they can offer. The golden question: what should you ask an SEM AdWords or SEO Vendor?
Of course, you want to go in deep and ask specific questions related to your business; However, realistically, you probably won’t get all of these answered. We recommend sticking to the basics to get started understanding how to qualify them.
STEP 1: WHO?
Who will be doing the work?
You’re probably speaking to a sales person who has all these great ideas, nice promises and smooth talking (after all, they are great at dealing with people). But who is the actual person doing the work? What’s their name? Ask to speak with them as you go further down the funnel of qualifying this company.
What’s their specific experience?
Check their LinkedIn to see if they have feedback/recommendations. See where they have worked before and how many years of experience they have in the paid search industry.
How many clients are they managing?
Ask the question. This will give you an idea of their availability and how closely they’ll be working with your business. You want to make sure they don’t have 50 clients and that it’s manageable for them to help you.
STEP 2: HOW?
How will they improve your business/AdWords account?
Many businesses will answer this by cherry picking the accounts that they’ve had the best results with; this isn’t the best indication. You’re interested in how they can improve your business. Have them take a look at your AdWords account and directly walk you through exactly what they’ll be doing different.
If they don’t want to share the “secret” with you, it sounds a little fishy; if they’re good at what they do, they should be able to explain the basics to you of what they’ll do differently to reach your goals.
What are some ideas and strategies for your business?
AdWords is the technical part, but ask how holistically they view your business and what opportunities they identify for your business. Hearing out some ideas and strategies can help you indicate if its custom service and not cookie cutter to prove that they truly understand your business and are a good fit.
How will they be accountable for results?
This is tricky when dealing with services. You’re paying for a service and not getting a partner to share results with both ways. Is there any kind of accountability they can put in place for results? If they lock you into a year contract, it’s less accountable; but if it’s month-to-month, there’s some accountability. Their goal is to work with you long-term but if they don’t perform, you can seek other service providers. Companies that are confident they can yield results after they reviewed everything and did their due diligence prove that they are not just a service sold, they are accountable for results.
STEP 3: LISTEN
Listen for the words that the person managing your account uses. Things like “we’re going to get you No.1 on Google” is not impressive.
When they are talking “leads,” are they talking leads or lead quality? If they’re talking lead quality, then they are listening to your business, which is a great sign as you’re likely going to get quality leads that will help grow your business.
Profits, overall, is a good word to listen for. If they’re asking about profits, this indicates that they’re seeking to better understand which leads can result in better profits for your business.
Minimizing your cost per sale, versus increasing budget, is also a good indicator. Minimizing cost per sale will maximize your profit, which will in-turn grow your budget with the extra margin you have. Overall, look out for their choice of words as it’ll indicate an understanding of your business.
Make sure that the person that will be managing the account day-to-day, not the salesperson, understands what your goals are. You’d be surprised how many companies vary in how deep and specific they get towards your business versus a cookie cutter business process. Asking them these basic questions will get you a lot further down the line to decide which company to stick with.
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