Why Link Builders Should Think Like Salesman

by Jon Cooper

Today I finished reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People”. For those who don’t know, this is thee book about human relations.

After reading through his tips on how to influence people to do the things you want them to do, it struck me how his applications to sales can also be applied directly to link building.

While a salesman tries to get someone to buy their product or service, a link builder is trying to get a blogger, editor, or webmaster to link to them. The only thing different about the two processes is the end goal.

Which means that link building should be much easier for a salesman because selling someone on linking to you is much easier than selling someone a product or service. It’s a lot less of a buy in, and you have the same arsenal of sales techniques.

Therefore, embrace these 18 sales tips when performing outreach: 

1. You can sell only if you yourself are convinced – If you were that webmaster or blogger, would you put that link up? If you’re not convinced that you would, then you need to go back & build better content, invest in a better design, or have a better angle.

2. Know who you’re pitching – Find things that the person likes and talk about it. You should also know as much about them because it helps you understand how they make decisions.

3. Put everything in terms of them – Don’t tell them all about you, just tell them what matters in terms of them.

4. Be clear & direct – If they have to decipher a 400-word email, then you’re going to lose their interest fast. Be as understandable as possible & get straight to the point.

5. Know their name – In Dale Carnegie’s book, he talks about how a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language, so make sure you address them by their first name.

6. Be enthusiastic – Be the first email asking for a link that they’ve seen that wasn’t boring. Excitement grabs attention.

7. Appreciate, don’t flatter – People love getting recognized, so find something that take pride in and show honest & sincere appreciate, but don’t flatter them. People see right through flattery. It’s a fine line, but it’s essential you get this right.

8. Use humor – Using humor not only makes the email more personal, but it helps set you apart from other similar emails.

9. Make them want to link to you – This is the toughest tip to embrace because it’s hard to make someone want to link to you, but it’s also the most rewarding. Try and see things from their perspective.

10. Make the other person feel important – You could be pitching a webmaster or blogger that’s one in a thousand, but if you make them feel as if they’re truly important, then you’ll win their respect (and a link) much more easily.

11. Ask for their opinions – Whether it’s asking what guest post topics they like or if they feel the same way about something as you do, showing that you care about their opinions goes a long way.

12. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately – When asking for a link, lead up to it before with suggestions or questions they would say yes to. Once they start saying yes, it gets easier to see each & every time.

13. Appeal to the nobler motives – Tie in a charity or something of similar status when building links. People might originally say no to a link, but they won’t say no if you’re giving to a charity as a result.

14. Dramatize your ideas – Like everything, use this in moderation, but dramatize some of what you’re saying to spark excitement. This makes it less boring.

15. It’s all about presentation – Whether it’s using a logo or stating your job title in the signature of your email, understand that how you present yourself is important.

16. Talk about their mistakes indirectly – This is more human relations than sales, but this is essential to do when building links via site issues such as broken link building.

17. Be prompt when you reply – This usually comes across as being enthusiastic and shows you’re a real person.

18. Stay on the radar – Once you’ve acquired a link from someone, don’t lose touch. You can get more links from them down the road.


There’s a reason CRMs were created for salespeople but also used by link builders. A lot of what we do is becoming the same. As link building becomes more about dealing with people, those who are well educated in human relations will succeed the most.

Bonus: If you’re still not convinced, then meet Yesware, my favorite Gmail plugin for efficient outreach. Yep, it’s made for salesman. The applications are everywhere.

What are your thoughts? Are their any sales techniques that are applicable to outreach that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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Random Link Love

If I remember to do this section at the end of every post, then I’ll continue to do it.

The Complete Guide to Link Building with Local Events – Bookmark it. NOW.

Better than Link Building: Authority Building with HARO – Some great link building tips from Matt McGee that are actually completely PR focused.

The Dale Carnegie Approach to Blogger Outreach – Some of the same tips mentioned here, but goes way more into depth on the 12 laid out in the book.

How to Develop Conversion-Oriented Link Building Strategies using Google Analytics – Smarter link building from Jason Acidre.

Marketing Lessons from Nigerian Scammers – Really interesting take on what these scammers can teach us.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 129 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper is a link builder based out of Gainesville, FL. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

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  1. Another way to describe #3 is “customer-centric selling.” James Agate wrote on a similar topic in this post:


  2. rani says:

    very good post. thanks for sharing

  3. BrewSEO says:

    I think the inbound marketing world actually needs more sales people. Ironic, I know.

    Just one suggestion, when you sell, don’t act like a “pushy salesman,” instead try to have the atitude that you have something they need, your job is to show them how you will make them money…

    Nice post Jon.

  4. Derek says:

    That’s a great list. When it comes to link building, approaching another blogger for a link is one of the most hair raising experiences out there. Having a different perspective for approaching the task is great.

  5. Good list, one thing I’d like to say about “5. Know their name” –

    Some experienced email marketers say that inserting a person’s name into an email can turn them off, because they feel that they’re being pitched to.

  6. Haroun Kola says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve just signed up for your newsletter Jon, replied to your newsletter and in replying said that I needed to create better link bait posts on my site, but nevertheless, these 18 points are a great addition to what I need to do!

  7. Philip says:

    I thought link builders already always did this!!

  8. Corey says:

    I think that’s the first time that I’ve seen such a great relationship-oriented book referenced in shaping a link building strategy (which is crazy, because it is, as you say, it is all about relationships).

    +1 exp!

  9. Sam U says:

    Doesn’t link building demote you on google rankings?

  10. Martina says:

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover somebody that really knows what they are discussing over the internet.
    You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people have to read this and understand this side
    of your story. I was surprised you’re not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.

  11. priyainterpret says:

    Frankly i say you you are absolutely on right way of internet marketing, but a great difference in both is “Salesman” job is quite difficult rather than “SEO Person” sales man have to pitch a person on phone of by door to door activity & Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) has to do just link generating work with proper accurateness and attractiveness after adding videos & images & quite simple & meaning full content in site, blog or article.

  12. Soma Generic says:

    Hi Jon,
    I just read through the entire blog of yours and it was quite good. This is a great blog, thanks for sharing this informative information. I like your 4th point which is this (Be clear & direct) really nice point. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. Thanks

Why Link Builders Should Think Like Salesman - Point Blank SEO