317: The Google Guarantee, with Justin Sanger

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The average SMB is worried about staying open in today’s competitive market. The Google Guarantee can help.

Justin Sanger, Chief Revenue Officer at OMG National, provides insight on what the Google Guarantee means for SMBs. Sanger refers to it as a game-changer because it has an overall effect on how SEO keywords and pay-per-click ads function. An SMB doesn’t always to hear the gritty details of lead measures and tactics, they often want a salesperson to cut the chase to know how it is going to affect their business. SEO has been changing at a rapid pace being at the will of the Google algorithms. Sanger shares how dealing with a fragmented and crowded landscape can hurt your agency and speaks to verticalization.



George: It’s the next edition of the Conquer Local Podcast, and this week we’re bringing you a 25-year sales veteran. There are very few people that have been involved in local search for longer than Justin Sanger. He is currently the Chief Revenue Officer of OMG National based out of Boca Raton, Florida. They run a fantastic business there at OMG national, and very lucky to have Justin heading up the revenue side of the business. So we are going to bring him into the studio and get him on the line and ask him a bunch of questions about what he saw over his career and what he thinks are some of the big takeaways for sales organizations and salespeople to be dealing with in today’s day and age of local sales. Justin Sanger, the CRO of OMG National coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast. 

George: And joining us now on the Conquer Local Podcast. Justin Sanger. Hey Justin.

Justin: Thank you, George. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with everybody today. I’ve been in the local advertising sales marketplace for about 25 years; it’s unbelievable the amount of change that’s taking place, and at the same time, how little things have changed. In today’s marketplace, I think more than ever it’s really important to understand your customer. We are dealing in a very crowded, fragmented sales environment. The average SMB has adopted local advertising and marketing as part of their mix, but the competition is fierce. The average SMB is approached every week with a new sales tactic or a methodology that they should be using. So how do you cut through that crowd? How do you differentiate yourself from a sales perspective in today’s environment is critical.

Justin: My belief is it’s all about knowing your customer. There’s a couple major trends from a sales perspective in our space that are essential. One is verticalization, and that is as the marketplace matures, it is becoming more and more important that we understand the unique characteristics of the industries that we service. Every industry has these nuances, these special characteristics from a customer acquisition and retention perspective that ultimately affect product performance. So as I said, there’s a lot that changes and that hasn’t changed. A lot of the tactics are still the same, George. We’re still talking about the same base set of tactics, the same base set of… Even from a destination perspective, it’s the same names, the same faces. In that type of environment, what happens is the maturity starts to take place in terms of how we understand the unique characteristics of each industry.

Justin: With the hundreds of industries out there, those are the means by which a product works or does not work. The nuances associated with a particular industry. I think as the marketplace matures, products are going to continue to become verticalized. The one size fits all approach simply is not going to work, certainly in this next decade. I think the other major trend is performance, and it’s being able to focus on the transaction. Talking about tactics, talking about methodologies these days, it’s hyperbole. Really all that matters at the end of the day is transactions. Our phone calls, our customers. It’s really important that from a sales perspective one’s able to cut through the chase and talk in terms of the transactions, talk to in terms of revenue with customers. For me, those are the two overarching trends within the marketplace that any salesperson should be hyper-aware of. Any sales call that they go on, any time that they have an opportunity to interact with the customer, they must really think about those things and get to know that customer if they think that they’re going to be successful selling to them.


Predicting and Monitoring Performance A Winning Combination for Clients

George: Well, I think you hit the nail right on the head there when it comes to this vertical approach because I believe that organizations that are staying very horizontal are going to have their lunch eaten all day long by a competitor that that goes vertical on them, that really understands the challenges that that business is facing in their industry. Now on this performance piece, it’s really interesting. You’ve been doing this a long time, you’ve been working in this space for a long time. Being able to call out the performance early and make it simple, because the business people that I’m talking to, they’re like, “Yeah, it’s great that you’re using all these tactics, but get it into something that I can look at and see if it’s working or not.” So you’re saying let’s get it down to whether they got some leads. Are you finding that business people are really understanding lead measures and lag measures when it comes to that performance monitoring?

Justin: Well I think you raised some really important points. I can tell you that I feel in today’s marketplace from a sales perspective we spend way too much time talking about tactics. The customer’s educated enough to be dangerous. But look, I’ve been studying this marketplace for over two decades and it’s still complex to me. The average small business is worried about putting food on their table, keeping the doors open, getting payroll. To expect that talking to them about the idiosyncratic nature of one tactic versus the other in today’s really complex marketplace is a mistake. I see this happen all the time, George. The salesperson feels like they’re obligated to demonstrate their knowledge or authority over the space by talking to them about how something works. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

Justin: You have to be able to cut to the chase, and the more you can predict performance, the better you’re able to make sales. I mean look, we’re in a day and age wherein verticals have become predictable to a large degree, and I think we’re going to talk about this a little bit more when we talk about Google Local Service Ads and selling on a fixed cost per call basis. Even from a search engine marketing perspective, we understand now what your average cost per click is going to be. We understand what your average conversion rates are going to be. We understand what the reputation world looks like in one vertical versus another. We as providers need to continue to dig deeper to make those performance trends predictable from a sales perspective.

Justin: So when you’re walking in meeting a new client, you have to be able to say, “Look, if you spend $500 with us, businesses like yours are likely seeing these types of returns.” What else is there to talk about at the end of the day and what matters more to a client or prospective customer than that? And 20 years in this industry, we should have knowledge at hand when we approach any client and we have to do our research. If it means doing your research because you are a horizontal play, then do your research. You have to be able to differentiate yourself like that in this marketplace, George.


Be Prepared for the Next Game-Changer, the Google Guarantee

George: Some great learnings, Justin, as you’ve said, you’ve been doing this for quite some time and it has changed somewhat, but I think the ability to take and give a very clear, concise story to the client that they’re winning or losing and that you understand the space and the challenges, or at least you’re prepared to listen to what the challenges are, to figure out a way to make your solutions fit into that is vitally important. You teased it, I was really hoping that you could help us with this. In the United States, Google has launched this thing called Google Home Services or Google Local Services, and I know that you’ve been dealing with it for a while. There’s a bunch of our listeners because we’re reaching now salespeople in about 20 different countries that are saying, “Wow, is that coming our way?” Could you give us a bit of an overview of what the Google Home Services or the Google Local Services are?

Justin: Yeah, I’m happy too because it’s a game-changer. In the local search landscape, we haven’t seen a tremendous amount of innovation. We’ve seen a number of major algorithmic changes, from Hummingbird to Pigeon. We saw RankBrain, we saw Pasa, we saw a lot of different things which impacted search results and how they’re derived. But we haven’t seen anything of the likes that we are now seeing with Google Local Service Ads. Google Local Service Ads is the ad unit itself, but the program is called Google Guarantee, and it’s a game-changer by all measures. It’s the first time that Google is saying that I’m going to start taking a vested interest in the results set that I display to prospects. And they do so through their Google Guarantee.

Justin: For Google, it’s no longer enough to make sure that a searcher gets the right answer. Now they want to give the searcher the definitive understanding that who they’re going to work with is backed by Google, and Google is putting $2,000 in insurance behind their search results. So the Google Guarantee program, which is being rolled out and scaled right now, is available to organizations that demonstrate that they are solid. Whether it’s through the right insurance, through background checks, through the right reviews. They are putting these advertisers through this due diligence, this program, to determine if they qualify. And if they qualify then they could run the Local Service Ads. Here too, it’s a major change because now what Google has done is they’ve moved outside of this open bidding dynamic marketplace in AdWords and said, look, we’re going to fix the cost for inventory across the board and not only that, we’re going to charge advertisers on a per-call basis.

Justin: So they have a fixed cost per call on a geo vertical basis. That’s what you get as an advertiser. So the complexity to a large degree is removed. You’re no longer having to compete in the same manner that you did before with AdWords or form organic perspective or even from a local pack perspective. It really comes down to how many calls do I want to receive if I qualify for this service if my organization has the characteristics that Google is looking for? What’s so dramatic about this, George, is that you can’t ignore it anymore. When you look at Google Local Service Ads in a mobile environment, for example, it’s 100% of the screen view. In a desktop environment they sit on top of AdWords, they sit on top of the local pack and certainly organic. So this inventory now has taken the market share away from the tactics that businesses have been spending years trying to achieve in one fell swoop. It’s a sea change no matter how you slice it and dice it, whether it be how you pay for inventory on a call basis or Google saying, “Hey look, I’m willing to back these businesses up with my own dollars.”

George: It definitely does sound like a game-changer. Has it rolled out completely in the US to your knowledge or is it kind of a phased thing that they’re doing?

Justin: They’ve been rolling it out in phases for over two years now. It started as locksmiths in a few cities in California and they continue to roll it out across the United States. There are 20 active home service categories where you can purchase local service ads today. We have partnered with Google here, so we actually have insight into the categories that are coming out next. There is dozens of other categories that are right behind this. We’ve gotten to a point wherein if you are operating in a category where there are local service ads, you have to pay attention or you’re going to get lost in the shuffle because your competitors are in there and they’re stealing your clicks and they’re getting the calls.

Justin: It started, and I don’t think there’s any stopping this. And we see the impact. It’s not only my organization at OMG, we’re hearing this across the board, wherein people that have been doing really well in AdWords, in paid search, are saying, “What happened to my inventory? Why are my clicks going down?” And if you look at the search, all of a sudden local search results have arrived on the scene, and that’s exactly what’s happening. So about 20 verticals, it’s live, from plumbers to locksmiths to pet groomers to HVAC and a lot of things in between. They’re onto something here, George.



George: Well Justin Sanger is the chief revenue officer at OMG National and we really appreciate getting your insights. I think you’re bang-on with those two items that you’re referring to, so thanks for validating what we’ve been saying over the last couple of years. Really get that verticalization into your sales organization and really be solving the problems of the vertical of the business that you’re speaking to. And then talking about performance right out of the gate and the ROI that is available to that person that’s spending money with the organization. And then thanks for giving us that overview of what you’re calling a game-changer. Google Local Services and the Google Guarantee. It’s definitely something that sales professionals need to be keeping an eye out for in the coming months. Justin Sanger, thanks for joining us in the Conquer Local Podcast. We appreciate it.

Justin: Thank you George. I look forward to seeing you.

George: Well, it’s like Justin and I have been talking for years together. Well, we actually have, but he really has hit the nail on the head. Verticalization. So if you walk in and you’re talking to a tow truck driver and you understand their business inside and out, you should be able to articulate the value that you’re going to bring for that vertical. You should know that industry inside and out. That’s who’s really going to win at the end of the day. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a horizontal approach and then go and have a solution for a real estate agent and then have a solution rather for a dentist. But when you are sitting across from that prospect, you better be able to tell the story and have the talk track as to how you’re going to solve the challenges that that person in that vertical are facing. So verticalization. I couldn’t agree with anyone more than I’m agreeing with Justin on this one.

George: And then that performance piece. If you remember back to some of the masters sales training editions where we talked about building a presentation, we call out how we’re going to measure whether this thing is working right at the beginning, right when we’re setting the stage as to what strategy is going to be in, what the tactics are going to be, and how we’re going to measure success. Justin really hammered on this that it’s a secret sauce. Showing the client how you are going to measure whether this is working or not is an important piece where you really set yourself apart from the other people that are calling on that client trying to eat your lunch. So having that performance right out at the top of the discussion and then keeping it top of mind as to how you’re going to prove that this is working and show true return on investment for the client is vitally important.

George: And then the Google Guarantee. This local search piece that Google is bringing in with Google Local Services. There’s 20 active categories today. I’m sure they’ll be looking at adding other categories. And as Justin mentioned, this started in locksmiths and dog groomers and things like that, but now they’re starting to roll it out, these other 20 categories. The other thing is, keep in mind if Google’s putting $2,000 in a guarantee behind this, this is definitely something that’s here to stay and it really is skewing results for current advertisers that are not adopting this new tactic from Google, so definitely something that you should be taking a look at if you haven’t investigated it up to this point. Really is a game-changer. We’re hearing it from lots of sales experts out there and Justin is dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, so you’ve got some great insights from him as to how this is going to be impacting clients all across, not just the United States but all across the world. Justin Sanger, our guest this week on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. Thanks for joining us. I’ll see you when I see you.