sales and reputation management

Does a bad online reputation really affect sales? We talk to business owners, CEO’s and Board Directors every week and the response is startlingly blind.

Sales executives and reps seem to have a hard time imagining that people are always Googling them, their products or services for reviews, discussion etc. This is most applicable for people who do not use the internet much themselves.

We had an executive of a financial company who was oblivious of the fact that his customers, current and potential, were Googling their name with a suffix, i.e. “Your Company Name Reviews” and other variations such as, “Your Company Name Scam”.

 Let’s look at some internet usage stats for 2013.

Internet Users 2013

If you look at the sheer numbers of internet users for the top countries, you will see that the ranges show from 65-80% user penetration for whole countries.

Internet by age & annual usage trend

internet users by age

The graph above, courtesy of creatingresults.com, shows the ever increasing number of internet users  by age. We have here an obvious deduction:

The internet is the primary source for knowledge, reference and brand recognition around the world.

No matter your industry, whether it is selling shoes in your e-commerce store, selling insurance, investment advisors, marketing providers or chimney sweepers; if you service people you will start to have a trace online.

A Recent Case Study

We were approached by a client who dealt with large accounts. After 10 years of doubling their business each year, in 2010 the trend stopped and took a steep dive, slashing profits and clients in half over a 2 year period. Baffled and stressed, the executives reviewed the matter and found they were the victims of an online defamation campaign, setup by competitors.

Let’s not talk about the drama, lawsuits or anything else which occurred, but we will focus on the symptoms.

  • Our client had almost doubled their marketing budget in an attempt to revert the 2 year slump
  • Extra marketing costs resulted in a continued slump
  • Vendors cancelled due to bad online reputation
  • Existing clients bought into the “smear campaign” and dropped out

Cleaning it up

After Massive completed a full analysis and detailed breakdown of every defamatory comment, link, article etc, we got to work. Cleaning over 30 essential keyword search results from page 1-5.

The Result

Within 3 weeks the search results were clean – filled only with truthful, bonafide reviews and information.

The money/effort/time being wasted on marketing kicked into action and within a month, they had a steady flow of new customers walking in the doors, much like in 2010, before the attacks.

What do we learn about sales and online reputation management?

The summary here is this. If you find yourself trying to swim up stream when selling, or pouring huge funds into marketing with little or not result, it may be time to:

  1. Get a review of your online reputation and,
  2. Clean it up as fast as you can.
Nadia Zimmatore

Nadia Zimmatore

Nadia is the co-founder of Massive PR International. She is has been working in PR for over 12 years and oversees client relations and security and reputation strategies.
  • Theron

    You basically can’t do anything online without having some sort of reputation protection. My sales crashed after 2 bad reviews out of 156. It doesn’t make sense, even when we cleared up the customer complaint the websites would not remove them without legal action = money down the drain.

  • Neptune

    @Shaun, very good point. How would one clean up a community discussion?

    • Brook Zimmatore

      See my response to Shaun’s comment.

  • Shaun

    This is a good article but should include the point of defamation within community websites. Sometimes it is not the Google results with defamation which hurt sales the most, but the places where people go talk about products and services such as forums, community sites and review sites. This is where a brand can be killed completely without high ranking bad reviews.

    • Brook Zimmatore

      Hi Shaun, excellent point. And yes, our reputation services in particular do reach into the depths of community discussions. In many cases you will find an unhappy customer who is scared of showing his identity, a competitor knocking down a product or service or, in rare cases, a hate campaign carefully orchestrated against you. Your best bet in this scenario is to start with cyber investigation services which will be able to tell who is who and allow ourselves or your own client relationship director to resolve it.

      Once proved as an orchestrated attack, we can usually get the community webmaster to remove the threads or discussions as they are misleading and out of hate.

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