SEOs run among many creative circles, and the art of negotiation is an invaluable asset when things simply need to get done. In fact, SEOs are leaders. They are the conductors of projects and client vision. However, getting web developers and the marketing team on the same page can be challenging. Negotiation skills facilitate effective leadership needed for project success.
“The SEO industry is always moving, so it pays to be aware of these evolutions,” according to Forbes. SEOs negotiate and manage clients, vendors, partners, investors, consultants, as well as other creatives such as photographers and copywriters. “This might sound counter-intuitive. But the best SEOs learned this long ago… Focus on collaboration with content creators,” says Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios.
Ideally, SEOs want to develop a virtuous type circle in which potential clients already accept you as an expert. Mediative, a website solutions company, notes that, “Virtuous cycles build upon themselves, yielding self-sustaining returns cycle after cycle.”
Your hard work paid off, but now you’re fielding calls and emails for your unique services. What to do? Until you develop the perfect virtuous cycle, here are a few exceptional reasons all SEOs need to master the art of negotiation.
Have a Partnership Mindset in Negotiation. When you’re developing client deals as an SEO, it is essential to approach the client as a negotiation partner and not an opponent. This will effectively create an environment of agreement, rather than friction.
This element of negotiation is essential, since SEOs need to build positive win/win relationships. Approaching negotiations with a partner mindset will also allow confidence to emerge, and your client’s mindset will certainly change as well.
Powerful Planning Meets Client Needs and Yours. SEOs employ the art of negotiation to develop questions and a list of deliverables essential to surpassing goals. Every client wants the best organic traffic analytics in their industry. However, many clients emphasize budget during negotiations.
Understanding client needs and negotiating value is certainly part of a SEOs strategy. According to Spera Law Group, “Make a deal with your partner that you would like to have for yourself and consider your partner’s concerns.”
You need to be extra careful not to minimize fees. You want to continue your reputation for success, and steering your client in the right direction at the negotiation table is a powerful way to do so.
Always ask for more at the negotiation table. SEOs often negotiate with savvy business people who have certainly negotiated bigger deals for their brand. Before you enter into client negotiations, know that they expect you to negotiate project price.
There is always wiggle room in the proposed budget. “Strategies prepared before coming to the bargaining table are one way to anticipate events during negotiations,” according to the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.
Ask for more and you shall receive. In fact, many clients will lose a bit of respect for your services if you don’t place value on your SEO abilities.
There is no free lunch in a SEOs strategy. Value comes at a price, and if you develop a client strategy with a monetary value that doesn’t meet the value of your service, clients will lose interest. Put an appropriate price on the value of your service.
The art of negotiation doesn’t end with client development and pricing projects. Negotiation also expands into the hiring process, and SEOs need to be savvy HR recruiters with powerful negotiation skills.
The hiring process is a two-way street. Many people believe that all the pressure in an interview lands on the potential candidate. However, like negotiations, the interview process goes both ways.
You want to develop a team with unique skills vital to the growth and success of your company. The negotiation shoe is often on the other foot during the hiring process, since you need to ask yourself if you can afford the candidate you really want.
Paint the full picture before salary negotiation. It is important to give potential team members the full tour before negotiating salary. You want them to fully understand their role and responsibilities. Retention is essential, since molding new hires is expensive.
The American Payroll Association suggests, “Make sure newly hired employees are fully aware of their duties, as well as the company’s organizational structure, goals and long-term objectives.”
For example, they may accept a salary up front, but soon realize how much is expected of them and do the math. This will inevitably result in an unhappy new candidate, whom will most likely be job hunting shortly after being hired by you.
SEOs emphasize career value in negotiation. Add value to the salary negotiation by discussing interesting new projects coming down the pipe. These projects may peek a potential candidate’s interest far more than money. Leading career platform, Monster, recommends offering intrinsic, extrinsic, and lifestyle work values.
Expert SEOs may have the opportunity to work on creative projects from innovative industries. These projects are key selling points at the negotiation table. It is also essential to do a bit of research on the market value of the position you’re hiring for. This is especially important if it has been awhile since hiring a new team member.
The more options SEOs have, the less negotiation anxiety. When dealing with vendors, SEOs need to be at the top of their game. And the more vendor options on the board, the more confident you will be at the negotiation table.
Vendors are wheeling and dealing daily, and if you fail to harness the art of negotiation, you may not get the best deal. Having more options eliminates your anxiety and need for the vendor in the negotiation as well.
Divide Your Passion from Your Services. SEOs are most certainly creative. This creativity derives from their professional passion. However, this passion can be a negotiation pitfall. You and your services are essentially the product, but check emotions at the negotiation room door.
You can certainly still have passion for what you are doing, but don’t wear it on your sleeve during negotiations. When you care too much, you may make mistakes and lose sight of your strategy. This will inhibit the win/win.
Remember, you have all the time in the world. Even if you don’t, this little negotiation mantra will keep you focused on the win-win. Vendors may pick up on your sense of urgency and expose it. This could lead to you closing deals before all the cards are on the table.
Forbes contributor, Jim Blasingame says, “Remember, your impatience with the process is the other party’s best leverage. Good negotiators practice patience.” The art of negotiation is very similar to the creative process SEOs use daily. Approach each vendor with relaxed intelligence for successful contracts.
Walk a few miles in your client or collaborator’s shoes. When developing strategies for clients or collaborating with other teams, SEOs need to be highly skilled negotiators. An excellent negotiation strategy is to get into the mind of clients and collaborators.
Seeing from their point of view will make the negotiation process easier. You will understand the client or collaborator’s demands, passions, strengths, and weaknesses. This will also allow you to build a stronger rapport in less time, leaving an avenue for future projects to be discussed.
Build strategies by simply listening. One of the most essential elements of negotiation is listening. Active listening is, “A general approach to listening that helps you gain more information, improve your understanding of other points of view, and work cooperatively with others,” according to the MIT Sloan Communication Program.
Listening is not as simple as sitting at the negotiation table nodding your head. “Rather, active listening is a dynamic process that can be broken down into three different behaviors: paraphrasing, inquiry, and acknowledgment,” according to the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.
Take notes, read back what you heard, ask questions, and seek clarification when warranted. Listening is your most valuable negotiation tactic, yet one of the most difficult to master. SEOs that truly listen to their clients, collaborators, and their employees will reach exceptional heights of success.
Developing the art of negotiation is certainly powerful. You will get the results you want, meet client needs, and build long-term relationships with vendors and other teams. SEOs are not simply creative types. They are leaders, whether managing projects or employees. Building a negotiation skillset will only facilitate success in every aspect of your profession.
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