How To Sell SEO
Since SEO first became a regular topic of conversation between agencies and their clients, there have been some seismic changes in the industry. However, some people (and their sales techniques) simply haven’t moved with the times, leading to a perception that demand for SEO services is falling due to a decline in sales.
When I first started selling SEO 12 years ago, the market was a very new and interesting place. Due to a lack of information and understanding about SEO, search engines and the internet in general, demand was low, even with supply slowly growing. Due to the more rudimentary nature of the Google algorithm, it made it possible to promise – and deliver – great results almost every time. On the other hand, with internet adoption so much lower back then, the spoils for delivering results on Google’s first page were not as high as they are now.
Nowadays, search volumes have never been higher, and even with the introduction of features within the Google SERPs like the four in-line AdWords adverts eating into the click through rates of the best organic positions, SEO offers potentially lucrative traffic, sales and leads. However, years of horror stories in the media – many of which are entirely justified – about unscrupulous agencies selling black hat SEO solutions to make some quick money before the client is hit with a Google penalty have made many companies wary about even attempting an SEO campaign.
In short, it’s never been easy to sell SEO, but the challenges now are entirely different to those of the industry’s early days. So what’s the best way of going about it?
Selling SEO Stage One – Choosing The Right Client
When I established Kubix Media, I made a promise that all of our employees understand; that we would only partner with and work alongside companies that would appreciate our efforts and allow us to take them on a journey, from where they are to where they want to be.
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes that companies and particularly agencies make today is that they choose the wrong businesses to work with, whether in a client capacity or as a supplier or partner. Many companies are too scared to say “no” when any sort of opportunity presents itself in case it costs them money. I actually believe in doing the opposite.
It’s entirely possible for a client to end up costing you more money than they bring in, whether it’s through requesting projects that are simply too big for your team to cope with or by simply having expectations or goals that don’t align with what you as an agency specialise in.
Choosing the right sort of client for your agency is critical to forming the relationship that will eventually lead to them paying you for an SEO campaign.
Stage Two – Stand Out From The Crowd
Business owners – particularly those that have at some stage signalled they may be in the market for an SEO agency – are inundated with cold calls each and every day. Many salespeople acknowledge this without truly understanding the sheer volume of requests and approaches that businesses have to wade through in order to find one that’s worthwhile. Personally, this was perhaps the biggest shock I had moving from being a salesman to being a director. It’s because of the constant number of unknown callers and spam emails that it’s absolutely vital that you ensure your pitch stands out from the crowd.
In my experience, offering something of value in return is by far the most effective way of grabbing their attention.
You’ve probably subscribed to this way of thinking without even realising you’re doing so. If you’ve ever been to a trade show of some sort, I’m willing to bet you were more likely to stop at the stands offering a free cup of coffee than those that weren’t. How about someone in a shopping center stopping you to let you know about their shop; are you more likely to engage with them if they’re offering some sort of free sample or not?
Obviously, these examples aren’t quite the same as selling an SEO campaign, but the principles are the same. No matter if it’s a free business report, a website audit or just a quick email pointing out a problem with their online presence and the quick steps that can be taken to fix it, offering value to a potential client is critical to make them sit up and take note.
Stage Three – Invest In Their Business Before They Invest In Yours
Once you’ve established a relationship off the back of the value you offered in the initial exchanges, it’s time to build upon that spirit by demonstrating that you’re willing to invest in their business before they invest in yours.
At Kubix, we conduct a full and comprehensive business review in order to get ahead of the game and understand as much as possible about the customer – even before they’re actually a customer. We aim to learn about everything from financials and forecasts to the customer’s most ambitious dream for their business and what makes them want to get up and get into work in the morning.
This allows us to tailor all of our recommendations to each individual business, creating a trust and an understanding straight from the off.
Stage Four – Ensure It’s SEO That The Customer Needs
Once you completely understand what the customer needs and how those needs square with your expertise and what you’re able to offer, you’ll be able to move forward with your recommendations.
In certain cases, this can mean that offering SEO specifically is no longer on the table; once again, the ability to take a step back, look at the situation objectively and, if necessary, say “no” is critical. Don’t think about what you originally set out to do, but what will allow you and the customer to form the most successful partnership and help you to find the solutions to their problems.
If you feel you can’t deliver everything the customer has asked for but can do a part, you can always refer them to another agency in exchange for a referral fee or a residual income arrangement; many agencies turn to Kubix Media in this exact capacity.
Ultimately, the keys to not only selling SEO, but ensuring the customer has realistic expectations and for forging a successful working relationship long into the future together are transparency and honesty.
Should you be interested in learning more about selling SEO or other marketing services, please email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via this page and we can send you an invitation to our next sales training event.