Alright. So on the previous podcast, I spoke on why some agencies have a shit SEO service – because of the leadership.
I want to continue with another reason why some agencies have a shit SEO service: too much emphasis on sales.
Now, you see, the nature of an agency is that there must be more work brought in than there is capacity to handle the work. This is just the nature of the servicing industry.
You simply get the work in and you figure it out afterwards.
As such, there is always the need to pitch for work.
As such, there is always the need for salespeople.
Indeed, the higher up one goes, at an agency, the more one becomes a salesperson, rather than a marketing person.
This is simply what it is.
In the early days of SEO, the simplest thing to sell, to service, was links.
A marketing person didn’t have to know much about SEO. They simply needed to know enough to sell it, and rely on their pitching skills in order to get the work in.
And get the work in, marketers did – or should I say, salespeople did.
There is never a limit to the amount of work that can, or should, be brought in, because internal capacity can always be adjusted.
This is the mindset.
This mindset, on its own, wouldn’t be an issue.
But, you see, in an environment where there is a disproportionate emphasis on sales over retention, the work that’s brought in becomes disorganised.
I mentioned in one of my previous podcasts that some leaders focus more on the leadership part of Management Leadership.
The problem of this is clearly seen at agencies.
Some folks at agencies use leadership as a right, a licence, to operate with an investor mindset, rather than a management mindset.
This is almost a right to not be operational, to not manage work.
The goal is simply to bring work in, by any means necessary, and then to move onto the next pitch.
Organising the work is someone else’s problem, including appointing the person who will organise the work that’s been brought in, in the first place.
It’s a joke at some agencies. Time sold and time spent rarely matches.
Work is sold on an hourly rate. However, internally, this isn’t even taken into consideration.
Two or three clients, for example, can be brought in over 2 quarters without a clue of how the clients will be serviced.
It’s all about the sales, at some agencies. When the PO is signed off – who cares about the service…?
I dare say, if some agencies could get away with selling SEO and not doing any SEO work, they will.
Marketers are encouraged to sell, at agencies.
SEOs are encouraged to sell the service, not do the service.
Well, if every SEO is encouraged to sell, and every SEO is selling, who is actually doing SEO?
SEO, operationally, is left to Executives and Managers.
Work is carried out by folks on this level, regardless of what you may have been sold.
Pitch work, is simply to get a client in.
Any and everything said and provided at pitches, is to land the client.
It doesn’t matter how beautified a pitch deck is, the scope of work changes, the strategy changes, the people working on the account changes.
You may have detailed line items on a spreadsheet of who will do what…
That’s not necessarily the case at agencies – some agencies.
No matter how transparent some agencies claim to be with their SEO service, the old school approach of getting work in and then figuring it out afterwards, still applies.
An agency is not going to have people onboard before work is brought in.
They’ll get the work in first, and then figure out how to service the work, afterwards.
What tends to happen during the ‘figuring it out afterwards’ phase is the P&L is brought into sharp focus.
An agency would rather utilise employees with the lowest rate card as much as possible – hence why Executives and Managers are used the most.
Even if you liaise directly with an SEO Director, an Executive and a Manager will be more operational – at all times whilst the Director spends more time helping to bring in more work.
An SEO Director is simply a salesperson in transition (not a marketer) – at some agencies – in my opinion.
The Director is trained on ‘leadership’ – that which the agency needs to win more business.
The Director is imprinted with an investor mindset.
The stronger this imprint, the less they spend directing work, and the more they leave it to the Executives and Managers.
What work is left to them?
Frankly, anything that needs doing.
This includes figuring out what actually needs to be done for a client that’s recently been onboarded.
Why would an agency operate in this way, you may ask.
If the agenda is to sell-in work, the servicing of the work does not matter.
You see, whilst operational work is a necessary marketing step at client-side, this is seen as shit work at agencies.
The sexy stuff is pitching, winning new business, showing your value with the sales that you can bring in.
This is what’s valued. This is what’s encouraged.
The servicing of work is an afterthought.
Servicing work, doesn’t get one promoted. Selling does.
Everyone wants to sell and no one wants to deliver the work.
When work is left to Executives and Managers, who see where the value lies in the environment that they are in, what would encourage them to want to deliver the best service to their clients?
Why would they want to continue doing what is seen as ‘the shit work’?
Why wouldn’t they want to escape and seek the refuge of a promotion so they no longer have to deal with the shit?
If this is the case, where does this leave you (the client) and the work that you have paid for…?