So, you are part of an SEO agency? You know just how important SEO is to a business’s success, and you’ve got the skills to implement effective SEO practices? You think you can help small and local businesses in your area?
Well, I’ve got news for you.
No matter how good you are at what you do, that doesn’t really matter if you aren’t able to sell your services.
Seems a bit unfair, right?
Don’t let all the big agencies get the sales that you are just as capable of handling. Big agencies aren’t necessarily better at SEO services; they just tend to be better at selling their SEO services. Let’s change that.
Here is an SEO-specific guide to get you started selling your services.
KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET
Knowing your target market is important in every phase of sales.
In particular, it helps you in knowing who to focus on when seeking new leads and once you have those leads it helps you to close a deal.
While you could leave your SEO services as a door wide open, hoping that all types of businesses will hire you, that is not the most realistic or economical choice. What you should do instead, is find out what your niche is and focus your efforts there.
How do you find your niche?
One way is by taking a look at the customers you are already serving, and see if there are any recurring industries. If many of your customers are coming from the same industry, then that is the industry you probably want to focus on. If 70% of your clients are in the medical field, it’s not the time to start contacting all the local shoe businesses.
Another way to find out your specific target market is to take a look at the needs in your local area. If you know that you are in an area with many businesses in the car industry, and after doing some research you can tell that these business could (to put it politely) “use some help” with their SEO marketing, then your focus should be clear.
In general, there are industries that need SEO more than others as the competition is higher. After examining your existing customers and your local area, if your target population is still not clear, simply go back to the basics. The basics are usually dentistry, medicine, the legal field and home services. Think about those things that EVERY city has, and focus there.
Knowing which market you are targeting will allow you to have somewhere specific to start in seeking new leads. You could go to the wild-goose-chase route, but some businesses prefer to make money.
2. Closing the deal
The more you know your target group, the more likely that you will be able to close deals within that target group. That is not because your SEO services will vary drastically from one industry to another. Rather, it is because knowing your target group well allows you to get into the specifics of how you can help their business. The more informed and experienced you seem about their realm of work, the more likely they will trust you with their business.
BUILD YOUR BRAND
Ironically, just think of things you would help your local businesses to do if they were to hire you, and then do them yourself. You know that in order for a business to be successful they need to have a strong brand image. So do you.
You build this brand through knowing what you do, and consistently representing that.
Great showcases to do so are your website, social media outlets and blogs. Your website should be about what you do and how to contact you, not about prices. The money talk can come later. Make a strong presence and place which people can continually come back to and get new content from you.
CASE IN POINT
Imagine you have persuaded a potential client to meet with you for the first time, and you are in their office giving them what you think is your best sales pitch.
As you look them in the eye you promise them results they have never dreamed of, a website listed number one on Google with only a few simple steps, with new customers coming in from day one.
You think you are nailing this, only when you see the CEO rolling their eyes.
Why are they rolling their eyes?
Because they have heard it all before.
If you want to sell SEO, don’t give vague, overgeneralized sales pitches with empty promises and utopian ideals. Be specific in what you can do for the local businesses you are targeting, using case in point examples. Take a problem you know they are having or expect them to be having within their marketplace, and show them how you would help them. Show them how you have helped others with similar problems in the past. Let them catch a realistic vision and believe in it.
To do this, you are going to need to do some homework. Take a look at their website BEFORE you meet with someone new and see if they are following basic SEO practices. You can run a free website analysis to show them how their website rates. Of course you can ask your potential client questions to see what their problems are, but don’t waste their time asking things you could have easily found by just looking at their website.
Part of doing your homework also means checking out what their competitors are doing or not doing to improve their rankings. Not only will it help you to look informed, it will give them an extra push to commit as they see where their rivals are in the SEO game.
In the end, just remember to be straightforward and promise only what you can really deliver.
Before anyone can ever hire you, you need to have initial contact. In other words, you need to generate leads. There are many ways to do this.
- Referrals from other customers- After you have finished a job don’t be afraid to openly ask for them!
- Traditional marketing- This could be cold calls, an email list, website campaigns, newspaper ads, flyers… whatever! Try them all and see what works best for your local businesses and then focus on that.
- Opening your mouth- Carry a business card around, and network, network, network. Sometimes that comes down to even going business to business. While this may seem more difficult and a little awkward, the benefit is that people are less likely to reject you when you are face-to-face with them. It’s a lot more personal than just an email.
If a potential client says yes to meeting, make sure to make a specific date, time and place for meeting right then. I also recommend making the first meeting a free consultation meeting.
As fair warning, expect rejection. Learn to deal with it and move on to your next lead.
CARE ABOUT PEOPLE, NOT JUST THE MONEY
Let me just break this down into some basics:
-Don’t talk numbers until you have established a relationship and until you have made it clear how you can help them. In fact, let the prospect be the one who asks you for the price, it’s the trigger that indicates that they’re ready to buy.
-Show that you care by asking the right questions. Take notes and respond to the things they say to show you are listening and that what they are saying is important to you.
-Treat every client like they are the most important client. They’ll start recommending you to other businesses when you do.
-If you can’t help them, don’t let them hire you. If you don’t understand their industry at all, or if they don’t have the funds to pay you what you would need to do your job effectively, it’s time to walk away.
KEEP IT ON THEIR LEVEL
Have you ever opened up a complicated textbook randomly and started reading in the middle of the page? Pretty confusing, right? You are more likely to close the book out of frustration, than you are to continue reading until the end.
The small and local businesses in your area are the same. They may be experts of their field, but they are not SEO and digital marketing experts. Don’t treat them like they are, or it will become frustrating for them.
This means no jargon. As fun as it is to spit out words like “keyword stuffing” and “bounce rate”, don’t. You don’t need to try and impress potential customers, mostly you just need to try and relate to them. Take their world as the focus, and show how your SEO world can make theirs better.
Help them understand what they need to know to want to hire you, not every possible thing that there is to know about what you do.
REMEMBER THE BASICS OF SALES
Consider the follow quote from “The 7 Steps of the Sales Process”,
“Closing is about advancing the sales process to ultimately get an order. What you are trying to sell at each stage may be different. For example, a close early in the sales process may be to get an appointment to discuss your product/service, in that case you are selling an appointment not a widget. In a later stage you might need to meet with a committee, in that case what you are selling is a meeting. Seeing the sale process in this light takes a little pressure off of each encounter and makes things a bit more manageable.”
This is true no matter whether you are selling SEO, or a plumbing service. If you can break down the sales process this simply, then there is no need to be overwhelmed by the task.
PRACTICE & DO
Don’t be too cool to practice. Some of the best sales pitches first were given into bathroom mirrors with no one else listening. I can’t back that up with hard facts, but that’s from my own experience.
Practicing will help things come out more smoothly in the real situation, and will help you to figure out what parts of your pitch you might want to change. It will also help you figure out the timing of your pitch. If your initial pitch for contacting leads is longer than a minute, you know you need to cut it down.
Even after you have practiced on your own, it’s time to practice with real contacts. You are likely to feel nervous. That’s OK. You will definitely get your fair share of rejection. That’s OK. Just do it; Fake it till you make it, and watch as the harder you try the more sales come in.
Jon began at Boostability as a part-time sales agent and quickly became their top performer. His achievements landed him the Director of Sales position. As Director of Sales, Jon managed 25 sales agents and implemented sales practices and trainings that resulted in millions of dollars in revenue. Now Jon works with top Boostability partners and launched a “sales support” initiative which enables Boostability partners to sell more online services.
Through Jon’s career he has trained hundred of sales agents across the country. He specialises in online marketing sales, especially SEO, Social Media and Websites. A significant contribution to digital sales is his ability to teach “traditional marketing” sales reps how to sell digital marketing.
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