Why is it important to set proper client expectations? This is something we all need to ask ourselves every time we find ourselves taking on any client for any business to business sales model. The ultimate goal here will be a long lasting relationship with clients that are happy with your service. In order for them to be happy with your service, you’ll need to be transparent with what it is they can expect to get from you. You do this because any client relationship with a client needs to be strong, and you get that with trust and fulfilling your purpose.

A lot of this should already be self-explanatory. You may already be doing quite a lot of these since you’re keen on learning how to sell and putting in the effort by going through this article. So let me go over a nice breakdown of how we can improve what the most successful salespeople in the industry are doing.

Make a strong introduction!

I cannot stress this enough to anyone hoping to sell anything on the phone. How many big contact centers screw this one up royally? I’m not the one that coined the phrase, “You have 7 seconds to make a good first impression.” but I sure as hell have no problem shoving it down your throat if you fail to try. If you sound tired, or that you don’t want to be there, or not paying attention, how can you expect someone to take you seriously? This might still work when playing the numbers game in a business to client sale. Ask yourself if you got a call from your bank and after saying hello a couple of times over dead air, and then they finally show up to say hi and ask how you’re doing, do you really want to listen to what it is they have to say? Don’t fail before you start and make an effort to come in strong.

You may already have a good idea of what starting off strong might look like, and they might even look just like what I’m about to break down. So then, let’s do just that! Feel more than welcome to write down some other factors you think might make you better, while I go ahead and jot down the basics that seem to have a way with working for everyone.

Speak loud and clear: This doesn’t mean that you have to start yelling at the customer, although I’ve had some success with this as well. I’ve performed single variable testing on the matter using a simple script, but instead focusing on speaking loud enough that I sounded excited. The results were blatant with a 100% conversion over 3 calls in a row. I and many others have been able to recreate this same results by building up the hype through contests and bonuses.

Be business casual: When speaking to clients, especially in B2B sales, it’s important to sound professional as well as reasonable. If they want to speak freely and have a conversation, this is fine in the name of building rapport, but is hindering your ability to manage your time. Stick to the main points of your conversation and manage your time wisely to best balance this for your calls. Refrain from going off topic yourself and you will excel in your client relationship.

Listen and repeat: Active listening is something that takes time to train, but the best way I could get a sales rep to do this is to repeat the question back to them while getting into your explanation. As an example I once had a customer call in saying they wanted SEO, but knows that it takes time to get people to visit their website. They told me their problem so I relayed it back to show that I understood what they had said by replying; If getting people to come to your site needs to happen immediately, maybe we can start with an ad campaign while your site is building it’s rankings with Google.

Leave the attitude at home: Negativity spreads like wildfire, and we are easily susceptible to fall into it. A common practice used for telephone sales is to smile while talking. I’ve always thought this tactic was cruel to enforce in management, but I can’t argue that when people smile while talking they legitimately sound better. The biggest issue that needs to be addressed is that if things at home are bringing you down, you need to leave that all behind if you expect to perform. If you’re working from home, this means having your own private space where your troubles can’t affect your work.

Now that we know how to best start the conversation with the proper attitude and tone, we should focus on what it is we actually need to convey during our conversation. Let’s get into the angle of how we are going to do that.

Are you selling the right way to your clients?

After speaking to literally hundreds of different agencies, we have been able to see recurring patterns of some of the most common problems organizations have with their clients. Many of them occur before a sale has even taken place. The common problem that we see are these agencies making promises to deliver on things that they cannot control.

Here is how the thought process goes:

People approach trying to sell SEO to "rational" business owners. What they want to do is prove the ROI of the services that you offer, and they will go the extra mile proving how everything will work. They start to translate link building into search rankings, and then search rankings into website traffic, website traffic into sales conversions, and then sales conversions into business profits.

However, unless you are operating the entire business for your client, you do not have any control over most of it. Their website may not be optimized well for sales conversions. They may not answer their phones. Maybe they don't deliver with their products. Their sales people might be terrible or their products may even be unfavorable or defective.

At this point, you probably wouldn't want to have them as a client... but this is where our entire role of setting the proper expectations are going to alleviate this problem. Any respectable business owner wants to be successful, and if their plan isn’t following a reality that you’re able to break down and explain, it’s best to do so quickly. It’s better to start with a reasonable plan that you both go over, than to run into a wall because that’s what your client wanted to do. This is your area of expertise and you’re going to have to guide them.

How To Properly Set Client Expectations

You can close deals by showing a great deal of proof for increasing their web traffic. The most convincing part of the sale that you can make will be providing proof of your services. It makes any other questions lose a lot of their merit and builds trust by showing your expertise. Here’s an example of how you can discuss some of the other major types of expectations that clients may have:

It takes around 3 to 6 months to start to see significant results from SEO.

Timelines for Achieving Results:

During this period of time, you need to need to be able to suspend your disbelief. It is important to set expectations with your clients for a minimum commitment of 3 months at least.

Keyword Rankings:

We recommend that you do not promise you can rank specific keywords for a client. What we suggest instead is that you focus on the high amount of targeted traffic these keywords can drive.

Content gap analysis can be used to show them the huge amount of mid-buyer cycle keywords they can target to bring increased traffic to their website. That will take the focus away from ranking for one single prized keyword that may take 6 months or longer.


Find out what their budget level is and compare this with what it’s going to take to compete effectively in their market. The higher their budget is, the faster and better it will work. This sounds easier than it really is because people often feel embarrassed or exposed by giving this information. A realistic budget for marketing should be around 10-20% monthly income. This is investing in their business to grow. Instead of flat out asking what their budget for marketing is, you can try to learn this information by asking what the average value of a lead would be worth so that you can try to calculate expected growth for them.

For a low dollar amount, you might be able to make small on-page changes. However, if you are expected to move mountains then you will need to have a large enough budget for it. If your clients cannot afford to pay for SEO, then you probably are targeting the wrong type of clients. When you focus on the right things from the very start and set the proper expectations you will significantly reduce client issues in the future.

Assembling your deliverables:

When you’re setting an expectation there will need to be some form of measurement to your success. This is why you’re going to deliver either bi-weekly or monthly reports on their rankings. Some near tangible evidence that shows your work was put in and results have been performed. This needs to also be your way of keeping in touch with the clients, one of your biggest aids for sustaining these long relationships. Adjusting the strategy and working together to plan out your keywords and even expansion when targeted goals have been achieved will be among your tasks. Plan out the strategy and be ready to explain the success you’re sharing. The results will influence reason to invest.

When discussing the success of your campaign, it’s important that you sound confident with the results you deliver.