Before joining the content and online PR team here at Search Laboratory I worked in the sales team as the company’s telemarketer. Selling and content marketing on the face of it may not appear to have much in common – but working in sales has in fact given me a set of skills that have proved useful when it comes to SEO and online PR.
Firstly and probably the most obvious benefit is when it comes to content outreach. Having spent a lot of time on the phone in sales I have learnt a substantial amount on how to get as much as possible out of the calls that I make. Outreach is basically the practice of selling the value of an article or link to someone, and sales taught me how to pick up on the key points of interest of the person I am speaking to quickly, and then tailor my pitch to what I feel they want.
I personally have found that using the phone to contact an influencer or webmaster has a much higher success rate than an email. This is purely anecdotal but I will, wherever possible, use the phone first. It’s good to talk!
Throughout all the training I received when in sales there was one consistent message: skills and knowledge are secondary to attitude! Without the right attitude you are destined to struggle in sales and I find that it carries over into most things.
Being polite and conscientious on the phone for example and being driven to get the best for your company and your clients will help you achieve more than if you were capable but didnt care.
Now you may feel this comes under attitude but I find there is a definite skill in persistence, or at least knowing when persistence can pay off and when it just won’t. While in sales there were many times it took several months to get from first contact to actually booking a meeting – you get used to hearing the word no.
One piece of advice that sticks with me is that a no is only a no for now. Just because somebody said no to a meeting three months ago doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in having one now. The same goes for content outreach. Obviously don’t pester someone who plainly isn’t interested in anything you could offer, but if they didn’t like one story you pitched this doesn’t necessarily mean it is not worth trying another.
I also learnt the value of a customer-centric view point. This is something that a lot of companies strive to instil in their employees but it is difficult to really understand the focuses and aims of a client without talking to a range of people and taking the time to really listen and understand what it is they want to achieve. It is definitely a skill I gained during my time in sales and one that I find helps a great deal when deciding how to approach an SEO campaign.