How to sell SEO services23-12-2016 Advanced SEO Startups
It is very difficult to sell SEO to someone who has no idea about what it really is. Fortunately, nowadays most companies are aware that having online visibility is key to acquiring leads.
Despite this, selling SEO services is one of the most difficult tasks for professionals in our industry. It seems like a few agencies get all the customers and the rest of the professionals survive doing small-time jobs.
Why does this happen? It’s not that large agencies do better SEO than other professionals… the difference is that the first follow a sales process and the rest don’t.
The process of selling SEO services involves searching for prospects, contacting the right ones and persuading them to hire your services. And no matter how many SEO courses you take, if you’re not able to sell your services to anyone they won’t do you any good.
Before you begin…
There are 3 things you will need before you start contacting your prospects:
– Business cards. Hundreds of them. Take at least 10 of them every time you leave the house.
– A mobile phone. You’re going to have to talk to a lot of prospects and your customers have to be able to contact you.
– A website. The simpler the better. It should provide information about you, the services you offer and your contact information. No prices!
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The first thing your prospects are going to do when you contact them is to search for you on the Internet. Therefore, it is VERY important that your website includes customer referrals as they helps to generate trust.
Already have everything you need? Let’s continue…
Search for potential customers
You will find new customers mainly in 3 ways:
– Referrals from previous customers. Your best salesman is a satisfied customer. There are many ways to get referrals, but the easiest way is openly asking for them. After you’ve finished a job for a customer, ask them to refer you to another company which might need your services.
– Marketing campaigns. The way you reach out to your potential customers will depend on your location and your target industry. In some cases, a Google AdWords campaign will be your best option, although from my experience it’s WAY too expensive. In other cases, you might want to go for content marketing. But maybe your best option is to market offline and place an ad on your local newspaper, which is what I did when I was living in Dominican Republic (we closed 3 new customers every week):
– Active search. You can’t wait forever for customers to find you, you have to go out and get them. Door by door, if necessary.
HOW TO SEARCH FOR QUALIFIED CUSTOMERS
The following steps will get you get started:
– Focus on a sector. Lawyers, physiotherapists, plumbers, dentists? Go for a professional group with solvency, with a lot of workload and little technical knowledge.
– Go local. Do a localized search on Google («London dentists», «architects in Miami», «Sydney plumber» …) and look for those that appear on the second page or below.
– Go for the advertisers. They are already paying to appear on Google, so they understand the value of your work. Do the same search as above and look for those who are paying AdWords.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Before you contact a prospect you should find out a few things about their business:
– What do they sell? Do they sell online?
– How much do they earn from each sale?
– How do they acquire their leads?
– Who are their main competitors?
– How optimized is their website? Have they done SEO before?
– Is their brand represented on Social Media?
– Are they creating quality content on their website? How frequently?
Get ready to receive LOTS of negative responses. We’d love to know how to close sales like The Wolf of Wall Street does:
But the fact is 19 out of 20 leads will ignore you. Get over it.
The more proximity you have to the potential customer, the more difficult it will be for him to refuse you. For them it is very easy to delete an e-mail, but once you are on the phone with your prospect the chances of closing the sale will grow exponentially.
The sales technique that I’ve had the most success with is the «free consulting» technique. This is an indirect approach to SEO sales in which the customer’s objectives are analyzed, the weak points of the competition are exposed and the solution to the customer’s main problem is pitched (their main problem is usually «increasing sales»).
The purpose of the contact e-mail is to specify a date/time for a call, and the purpose of that call is to set up a sales meeting.
Remember that your e-mail must be sent from a corporate account (not from your Gmail) and should include a signature with your logo and a contact phone number.
To capture your lead’s attention and start a conversation your e-mail must have the following characteristics:
– Closeness. A compliment about the client’s company helps break the ice.
– Value. How will your client benefit from what you’re offering?
– Credibility. Why are YOU the right person to do the job?
– Call to action. Indicate what will be the next step to follow.
– Be brief. Read it aloud and time yourself. If it takes you more than a minute, make it shorter.
I recommend that you practice first. Call your current clients to understand how they have benefited from your services and what they would improve from them.
Stand up. Your voice will sound much better and being able to move your body will help you release tension.
Remember that you are addressing someone without technical knowledge. Do not try to impress him by talking about on-page optimization, link-building, web performance and other technicalities.
Don’t sell your services. Sell the solution to a problem.
Focus the conversation on your client. Address him by his name, let him talk, listen to him and try to understand his business and his needs. Remember that now you are not selling anything, you are just connecting with your client and trying to see how you can help.
Do not try to close the sale by phone and don’t give any prices yet. When you see that the client is showing interest or asks you something like «how much is this going to cost?», offer to meet with him for free to explain to him how you can help.
If he says yes, specify a date and time for a meeting. And if he has a website, ask if you can contact the technical or marketing manager to gain access to their Google Analytics and Webmasters Tools data for a preliminary study.
The sales meeting
As I mentioned before, the «free consulting» technique is the one that has worked best for me to sell SEO services. What I do is to focus the sales meeting in solving your prospect’s «pain points» instead of trying to pitch one of my SEO packages.
Although the SEO strategy you run will be very similar for all your customers (on-page optimization, content creation, link-building, etc.) each business owner is interested in knowing how you will adapt that strategy to solve THEIR particular problems.
Every business is unique and people like to be listened to and feel important.
Once you have broken the ice you can start asking about:
– What’s the most important thing about their business (how do they make money).
– How much do they earn with each customer.
– What are they currently doing to promote their business.
– How having a website has affected their business.
– What they like most about their website and what they would modify.
– If they have worked previously with an SEO professional and how did it go.
Write notes of everything they say. This way they feel you care about what they’re telling you and it will help you do your work better afterwards.
Once you have obtained all the information about the situation of the business you can start selling your know-how. I suggest you continue by exposing the opportunities you have found by researching your prospect’s and their competitors’ websites.
Print out a screenshot of the prospect’s website and their 3 main competitors websites. Point out the weaknesses of their competitors’ websites and don’t be too hard on the prospect’s website because the person in charge of the website is probably at the meeting too 😉
If the customer has given you access to their Google Analytics, you can point out the improvement opportunities you’ve discovered (high bounce rate for certain browsers, dropouts in the conversion funnel, high page load times, 404 errors, etc.). Do not get into technical details as they could get bored easily… and it is always good to leave them wanting more.
Analyze their website with MetricSpot and print out a SEO report with your logo and hand it to your prospect. Take several copies so that everyone at the meeting can have one. Do not send it in PDF, you must print it out and hand it over personally. Why? It may seem weird, but receiving something physical from another person’s hand creates a psychological bond between them.
Now is the time to start pitching your services. You have to be concise and compelling, if they have time to think about your proposal days will pass and they will forget about you. Make sure they understand the risk of not acting RIGHT NOW. Make them understand that every time someone does a Google search and they don’t appear in the results page there is a customer who is spending his money on their competitor’s business.
Sell your solution. Present a detailed marketing plan of the actions that you are going to execute to improve their website’s visibility in the following 3/6/12 months. You can talk about the results you have achieved for other clients and show them a few testimonials.
Let the prospect be the one who asks you for the price, it’s the trigger that indicates that they’re ready to buy. If they have any objections, bring up the competition again: make them know that they’re investing in online marketing and the risk involved in being left behind.
Fear is a powerful motivator. Your prospects must know that if they don’t want to be left behind by their competitors they need an expert like you on their side.
– The most important about this phase is establishing your credibility. Your prospects don’t know you and don’t know anything about your knowledge and experience.
– Make eye contact. People like to know that you are talking to them directly. It conveys confidence.
– You’re the expert. Sit properly and speak confidently. You must be proud of what you know and what you are capable of achieving.
Closing the sales deal
You’ve already analyzed their business model, you have devised the perfect solution and presented it to your prospect. Now you have to close the sale.
Most likely, the sale will not close during the meeting because the client will need to think about everything you’ve exposed before making a decision. After a couple of days, e-mail them an interesting article that you have read about their industry or something that will remind them of the conversation you had during the meeting. With this you convey that you are already involved with their business.
Follow up with a call after a few days and ask them if they’ve already made up their mind. If they’re still hesitant, ask for the reason why and offer to send any additional information to help them make up their mind. It is important to discover what is stopping them from working with you.
Keep in touch periodically until you have a firm response. Be patient, it can take several weeks (even months) until you close a deal. If they finally decide not to hire you, try to leave an open door to future collaborations letting them know that you will be contacting them again in a few months to see how things are going.
And if they finally decide to work with you … congratulations! Now it’s your turn to prove your worth 🙂
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