I think the things EP and Black_Knight presented here are critical, especially in the type of industry this is.
Re: what EP said: My nearly 3 decades of experience in my B&M biz market and my decade or so dabbling in SEO confirm what EP hinted at: most of the small biz people who contact an SEO aren't good leads. They aren't good clients. They really can't afford to pay for a proper SEO job, and worse, like the industry I'm in, I think there's a pervasive perception that this service (SEO) is a commodity. As Kim mentioned, she can often hear "my buddy can do it cheaper." What that tells you is that whatever it is you're offering, through either the fault of your presentation (active (live convo), passive (website) or otherwise) or the fault of just being in that industry, your prospective clients don't see the value in hiring an expensive provider of the service over a cheap one. It's seen as a commodity, like gasoline or orange juice.
And there is no amount of selling and/or educating that is going to make that sale worthwhile. You may spend 4 hours convincing that client that you offer value over the SEO service in India that keeps pestering your client, but if they promise to deliver for $50 less? You just wasted your time, because they're gonna jump ship.
I don't recall who said this, but it's stuck with me for years: "The more I charge, the better my clients seem to listen to me." I've found it true in my own business, too. And why? It's because when you find those clients willing to pay for an expert, they want expert advice. They see the value. And so they listen. They follow your advice.
I say all of that to bring it back home to EP, who said in so many words that you must qualify your leads. Make sure they can afford to pay. If they express a willingness to spend $5k, they obviously value that service more than someone who will only spend $500. For my B&M business, and it's taken me years to get to this point, but I screen prospective clients like an emmer effer. If they tell me they're trying to decide between what we offer and different type of installation, I know their decision is based on price and not value, and I try to end those conversations as quickly and amicably as possible. I also will do my best to give them a realistic expectation of cost while on the phone. And then I try to frame the part of the conversation that immediately follows in a way that they understand that if we meet, it's with the client's understanding that this type of work they're asking about is going to cost $X. Somehow that seems to be a tipping point for most clients; either they say one of those many things a client says to get out of pursuing work with you, or they commit to meeting, knowing they'll likely end up spending $X. And now you know you have a solid lead.
And I hate to say this, because I've offered SEO services to the small biz membership of my forum site, but I'd bet 95% of small businesses are not ever going to be the client of a professional SEO. I think it's then incumbent on an SEO to figure out where they can dig their claws into demographics where their work IS valued. EP hinted at this - businesses that have the kinds of revenue that a $5-10k marketing investment is typical, and they don't need to be sold on the value high rank will provide them.
For my own business, it's been a long road and took me a long time to understand what Ammon succinctly said in the video, and to tie it together with what EP said and my own ramblings, I offer this mashup:
You can't possibly be all things to all clients, so don't run around juggling every ball, trying to be everything, do everything. Avoid being a commodity at all costs, and instead focus like a laser on providing a niche of service that is underserved in the marketplace. A niche that has the funds to spend on your kinds of services and values them. Become the best at it and then charge more than anyone.
Edited by Robert_Paulson, 27 March 2016 - 08:54 PM.