Business generally is referred to as a numbers game.
Contact X number of people, X number will respond, X will be interested and you will sell X.
But with selling SEO nowadays I’ve found that this is not the case.
Here’s My Theory
My theory is simply down to the industry having issues with being seen as a “snake oil industry.” This comes from the 9,000 emails most businesses receive daily about $99 SEO and the like. Essentially low quality spammers/marketers ruining a market (who saw that coming…)
They play by the numbers game, sending 100,000 emails, getting 20 responses and maybe closing 2 clients for $99.
But there’s more to the issue.
Aside from the email spam people receive, there are simply a lot of people offering SEO without actually knowing how to implement it. Digital marketing consultants offering SEO, web design agencies, PR firms, graphic designers, anyone who seems to work online now offers SEO as an upsell service.
The issue with this is 2 fold. The first is around price anchoring. For example when someone says “seo costs $200/month” – If this is the first time the client has ever been quoted for this service they will assume that it comes this much. The problem is this price anchors the client/lead into this way of thinking that the generic service (often thought of as a product) of SEO is worth $200/month and not anything more.
As we all know the price of SEO varies. Do we take on anyone for $200/month, no way. But if someone said they wanted to rank for an extremely long tail keyword and didn’t have a budget, just on-page could get you there regardless of the price.
The second part of the issue aside from anchoring a prospect to a price is the fact they do not deliver the service. If I had a pound for every time I heard “I tried an SEO company but it didn’t work/was rubbish/took my money/didn’t get the results etc” I’d have £50+. It’s the major issue in selling BUT that is also why it makes selling SEO very different and removes it from being a numbers game and is why the selling part is so important.
The New Way
So we know we can’t sell just by cold emailing thousands of people, instead go the exact opposite way (this is assuming you are extremely good and knowledgeable about what you are selling of course.) Start by looking at your dream clients. For me, these are the individuals that already have some knowledge about online marketing. They are actively growing their business and advertising (whether that be online, offline or anyway) just ensure this business is active and looking to grow.
Next I like to look at the business and the person behind it. Who are they? Are they a respectable business person or do they have lots of negative reviews? How much does the business make? Is that enough to invest in what you want. If we are looking to convert a client at £2,000 a month, they have to be making £20,000 a month profit for this to be easy. If its any less then its going to be a tough sell. As a result I look for businesses that make at least £1,000,000 in turnover a year. About 1/4 of that if we are going in at £1,000/month or selling locally. I use a tool called companychecks for this.
Next stage – Initial contact
Once you have your 10 dream clients or prospects you have to do everything in your power to get on the phone with them. Phone is so much better than email as enthusiasm comes across on the phone a lot easier than it does through email, and people do business with people.
Get seriously creative with this. Don’t just email, call, send a direct mail and give up.
Send a package, contact via facebook, make a video and rank it for their name, rank your busniess’s logo for something that they will see, send them a video, get in front of the individual at all costs.
Once you have made initial contact you need to create extreme value.
Remember if you are looking to sell higher end seo or digital marketing services, the sales cycle is going to take and be longer. That’s just how it works (unless you’ve had a referral in.)
You have to build TRUST and VALUE. If those 2 elements are present then you’ll close the lead.
Next Stage – Initial Value & Trust Building
This is a tough stage as you do not want to give away something that is too valuable (such as free rankings) but you don’t want to give away the generic free audit that can just be left in the email forever and never really analysed.
I like to get on a skype call and just talk about their business, aims, goals, lifestyle and also get personal too. Try to make a connection with the individual before looking for the money. They might talk about a specific product that used to get a huge amount of sales but has dropped to page 2 and now hardly gets any……
This could be your way in, they might hand you the value opportunity just from talking to you (also video calls are more personal so I like those)
So your value proposition could be “I’d like to get that product back onto page 1 for you, I’m going to do this for free just to show you how good we actually are, as I know you’ve probably been burned by bad SEO companies in the past.” —- ALWAYS ALWAYS say FREE and not for £100 or a tiny fee. As soon as you introduce a tiny fee you are setting up a discounted buyer, you want to get away from those people, especially for longer term clients.
Next Stage – Provide the Value & Follow Up
Provide the value you arranged in the step above and follow up. Stay in front of your prospect and don’t let people forget about you. Try to complete the value element in a month or less, this lets you stay fresh in the mind. Also if you can meet the client in this stage that is great as you can build a personal relationship. Follow up if you are not getting a response and don’t be scared to just get on the phone and say “did you get my email about the update?”
Next Stage – Build the Proposal, SELL & CLOSE
Build and deliver your proposal. This is something that a lot of people do not do correctly. They simply send a PDF proposal and hope. They follow up once and then if nothing happens they just give up. This is not the way. Write your proposal and call the client, get them on the phone for a walk through and organise a specific time to discuss this and answer any questions. Get them to give you 20+ mins for you to “deliver your proposal” this will also give you time to answer any questions, resolve any objections and hopefully close the deal.
Closing the deal is tough in SEO but if you have positioned yourself and your business correctly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do this. Position yourself as the best at a specific element of SEO. Prove this through the value you created in the above stage and the client should be already pre-sold before even seeing your proposal.
When they are on the call or viewing the proposal close them. This can be hard but simply educate yourself on the best ways to do this. Remember if you do not close this client, chances are they will go to a competitor who is worse at SEO and THEY will be wasting money. That’s a lose lose for by you and the client. Making selling them not only your duty but also theirs. Get the close!
That’s why SEO is no longer a numbers game.