You find an SEO lead, devel­op a pitch, and then close. But, you’ll soon find your­self need­ing the extra push to start scal­ing like clock­work when sell­ing SEO. With the com­bined exper­tise of sales thought lead­ers such as Jef­frey Git­o­mer, Joe Girard, Bri­an Tra­cy, and Chet Holmes, we came up with an exten­sive guide for agen­cies on how to sell SEO ser­vices.

Sell­ing SEO to local busi­ness­es isn’t rock­et sci­ence, but it’s not exact­ly a walk in the park either. Even our part­ners’ most sea­soned sales teams have their chal­lenges: no defined sales process­es, lack of tools or sales train­ing, and a lack of prep before a sales meet­ing that can cost them busi­ness.

What may be stop­ping you from clos­ing that pitch is not hav­ing the cadence that instructs your sales team on the best way to sell SEO ser­vices. If there’s no repeat­able process, how then can your team con­sis­tent­ly close? You need to do some­thing about it — now.

These are battle-tested and proven tactics—not just by us, but also by the agencies we work with.

We’ve gath­ered action­able steps to help you max­i­mize your sales efforts and, ulti­mate­ly, dri­ve more busi­ness to your agency. These are bat­tle-test­ed and proven tactics—not just by us, but also by the agen­cies we work with.

Fol­low­ing the Pare­to prin­ci­ple, the steps out­lined in this post are designed to help you focus 20% of your sales efforts to get 80% more close rate. If more busi­ness is what you’re look­ing for, this post is for you.

Before You Sell SEO

“Be prepared…or be pre­pared to lose prospects.”

If you meet a prospect with a half-baked pitch, you’re dimin­ish­ing your chances of clos­ing the sale by (ill) design. The more you study your lead and their indus­try, the eas­i­er it will be for you to talk them through their pain points and why they need your SEO ser­vices.

Ded­i­cat­ing time to prep allows you to dis­cov­er infor­ma­tion on who you’re talk­ing to, as well as their pain points, needs and wants, who their com­peti­tors are and whether they’re doing bet­ter.

Prep is an impor­tant part of the sales process. It sets you on the right foot and ensures every move you make will lead you to get that client onboard.

Doing Your Prep

Sell­ing is a skill, and like all skilled work, there are tools of the trade. Some of the things you’ll need before you begin on your sales jour­ney are:

  • A CRM — A tool that allows you to be mind­ful of every lead, so noth­ing slips between the cracks. With­out a CRM, you’ll fall vic­tim to the lim­its of your own thought­ful­ness. CRM’s allow you to mas­sive­ly scale the abil­i­ty to care, fol­low through, and allo­cate your time to the most promis­ing rela­tion­ships you cul­ti­vate.
  • A pro­fes­sion­al email — Noth­ing screams “ama­teur” like a gener­ic @gmail or @yahoo email.
  • A Web­site — Your pitch time is lim­it­ed. You’ll nev­er be able to tout all the virtues of your brand on a call or meet­ing. So, why not have your val­ue propo­si­tion per­ma­nent­ly on the web, where it can be accessed by your prospects — any­time! And not to men­tion, all the mar­ket­ing good­ies you’ll be able to add on lat­er as your busi­ness grows.
  • A short­list of peo­ple from your Net­work
  • A few thought­ful ques­tions to break the ice

1. Knowing your prospects

Don’t treat your prospects as just anoth­er deal. Show your prospects that you tru­ly care about their busi­ness, and this starts with tak­ing the time to know more about them. The more you become famil­iar with your prospects, the less like­ly you’ll be treat­ed as a stranger.

  • Know their busi­ness — Div­ing deep into how they do their busi­ness, who and how they get cus­tomers, what indus­try they’re in, and what their prod­ucts or ser­vices are can help you bet­ter posi­tion your SEO ser­vices.
  • Research their com­peti­tors with an advan­tage — Show that you’re look­ing at every angle to help their busi­ness. This includes detail­ing what their com­peti­tors are doing and how their busi­ness can get bet­ter lever­age.
  • Find out about the cur­rent state of their dig­i­tal marketing/online pres­ence — Know if they’ve done SEO in the past, and if so, what their expe­ri­ence was like work­ing with their agency.

2. Is the prospect the right fit for your agency?

When you sell SEO to small busi­ness­es or even to large enter­pris­es, under­stand that every client has a spe­cif­ic need. It’s impor­tant you know how your agency fits into their needs, so you can pay atten­tion to the right prospects.

That’s where qual­i­fy­ing comes in. As you qual­i­fy SEO leads, there are four fac­tors you need to keep in mind: Bud­get, Author­i­ty, Need, and Time­frame.

  • If you had to choose between time and bud­get, which would take pri­or­i­ty? (Bud­get)
  • Would I send pro­pos­als and all the mate­ri­als to your per­son­al or work email? (Author­i­ty)
  • Why do you feel that your busi­ness is dig­i­tal ready today? (Need)
  • How soon do you want to see results for your SEO? (Time­frame)

Ask­ing the right ques­tions and get­ting the right answers will allow you to focus on the right prospects instead of wast­ing time and resources on projects that are a) not with­in your price range; b) not with­in your agency’s capa­bil­i­ties; c) not about to start any­time soon.

3. What type of client are you talking to?

Know their customer profile

In sales, you will encounter dif­fer­ent types of clients. We refer to these as Cus­tomer Pro­files, and they are the:

  • Ami­able — Clients who are like­ly to pur­chase to avoid offend­ing. They are the ones who will buy if your ser­vice solves a prob­lem. They love the win-win sit­u­a­tion.
  • Achiev­er — Clients who always talk about results. You will need facts and evi­dence to con­vince them to buy. They are clients who are like­ly to buy if the pur­chase makes them feel good or improves their image in the eyes of their peers.
  • Skep­tic — Clients who will need a lot of con­vinc­ing in the form of fig­ures, such as sta­tis­tics and results from pre­vi­ous cam­paigns. The more you show them evi­dence, the bet­ter. You will need to keep sell­ing to them every month.
  • Alpha — Clients who must feel con­trol at all times. They must be made to feel that the sales were an inde­pen­dent deci­sion.

It is impor­tant to match your sales approach based on the type of client you’re fac­ing. Our advice is to research your client and prime them with the right ques­tions.

4. Top questions you need to ask

As part of your prep, you need to have a set of SEO intake ques­tions (prob­ing) that will help you unearth the needs of your prospects.

Here are some exam­ples:

  • Have you worked with an SEO agency before?
  • On a scale of one to 10, how sat­is­fied are you with your cur­rent agency?
  • How would you rank price, qual­i­ty, and time­frame to ful­fill the ser­vice in terms of impor­tance?
  • What chal­lenges did you encounter in your busi­ness? What steps did you take to resolve them?
  • Do you have a set mar­ket­ing bud­get?
  • What’s your mea­sure­ment of SEO suc­cess?

5. Identify who you’re going to sell to first – Prioritize

Sell­ing SEO shouldn’t be a guess­ing game; oth­er­wise, you’re wast­ing time, effort, and resources instead of get­ting more busi­ness. Ide­al­ly, you should use a CRM to keep track of your prospects, orga­nize their infor­ma­tion, and essen­tial­ly, iden­ti­fy who’s mov­ing through your pipeline.

Your CRM may also act as a fil­ter to man­age and pri­or­i­tize your prospects, let­ting you know who to nur­ture and who’s ready to do busi­ness with you. Some of the great CRM’s out there are Sug­ar­CRM, Sales­Force, PipeDrive. But, we’ve also devel­oped a great nim­ble CRM that you can use to close more sales with­out break­ing the bank.

SEOReseller Dashboard CRM

Treat prep as your home­work. If you feel that your knowl­edge about the prospect is still lack­ing, don’t jump into a sales meet­ing with them. This is key in the fun­da­men­tals of prospect­ing.

The Sales Experience

Now that you’ve done your prep, let’s get down to sell­ing your SEO ser­vice.

How Do You Reach Out?

1. Selling SEO over the phone

You don’t want to waste time call­ing every prospect, so the best way to go about this is to talk to the deci­sion mak­er. Can the per­son you’re speak­ing with make the exec­u­tive deci­sion to “go all in” with your ser­vices? But, remem­ber that talk­ing to them on the phone isn’t where you drop your clos­ing state­ment. Your goal is to set an appoint­ment with them — this is sell­ing the “test dri­ve”.

Your sales team should have a script when they’re con­tact­ing prospects. You can start with some­thing like this:

Hi! I’m look­ing for {Name of Prospect}

I’m {Your Name} from {Agency Name}. I’m a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­al and I help local busi­ness­es improve their vis­i­bil­i­ty online. I would love work with you by help­ing you gain more cus­tomers to your site. Is this some­thing we could chat a bit on?

(If they answered “Yes”)

Great!

(Pro­ceed to prob­ing ques­tions)

  • How do your cus­tomers usu­al­ly find your busi­ness
  • What was the moti­va­tion in cre­at­ing the web­site?
  • Have you heard about SEO and improv­ing your vis­i­bil­i­ty online?

(If they answered “No”) Do you already have some­one doing this for you?

(Pro­ceed to prob­ing ques­tions again)

  • What are the results you’re get­ting right now?
  • What was the goal for the cam­paign?
  • Are you hap­py with the ser­vice?

I can pre­pare a report to look at the sta­tus of your web­site right now and show key­words that could be impor­tant to your busi­ness.

Should I send this to your per­son­al or work email? I also have some free time to help you under­stand it. Is {Day: Mon­day, Tues, etc.} at {Time} work for you?

Note: Calls requir­ing a com­mit­ment are best done dur­ing morn­ings, ide­al­ly around 10 AM to 11 AM.

While it’s good to have a script when sell­ing SEO over the phone, nev­er read from it!!! Use the script only as a guide to keep the con­ver­sa­tion flow­ing and nat­ur­al.

2. Setting a sales meeting and selling in person

Be prepared when setting a sales meeting

Sell­ing in per­son requires a great deal of prep — apart from the first steps we’ve out­lined above. You need to:

  • Dress to impress — show you mean busi­ness. For some, it sounds rudi­men­ta­ry, but you’ll be sur­prised that some sales­peo­ple pay lit­tle atten­tion to how they look when fac­ing clients. You want them to trust you with top dol­lars, so you need to look top dol­lars mate­r­i­al.
  • Bring impres­sive mar­ket­ing mate­r­i­al to leave behind. This should include mate­r­i­al like a com­pre­hen­sive site and link audit, a pitch deck, and a pro­pos­al with all your con­tact details on it. You should also pre­pare case stud­ies or white papers to demon­strate the poten­tial impact of your SEO ser­vice to their busi­ness.
  • Don’t be afraid to defer tough ques­tions to a lat­er phone call. It may hap­pen any­time when you’re talk­ing to a client. If there’s a ques­tion that you may not be able to answer, tell your client that you’ll review and con­sult more with your experts (us), then get back to them. Your hon­esty will be appre­ci­at­ed, and this also cre­ates an oppor­tu­ni­ty for anoth­er touch­point.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS…Shoot them an email. Your email will act as a receipt of their buy-in. When you send an email, make sure it serves a pur­pose.

Breaking the Ice

If you’re talk­ing to prospects over the phone or in per­son, small talk is essen­tial to estab­lish rap­port. To break the ice, ask ques­tions that will make them pause. These are ques­tions that they don’t usu­al­ly get in con­ver­sa­tions. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Do you have any­thing excit­ing planned for the week­end?
  • I saw your web­site, and it looks great! Did you build it your­self?
  • I’m curi­ous about your busi­ness’ name. Did you come up with it your­self?

Rapport Building Techniques and How to Use These

When you have a strong rap­port with your prospects, you’re in a bet­ter posi­tion to influ­ence them in their pur­chas­ing deci­sion. This shows that you’re both focused on what the oth­er is try­ing to say. This is called the “Lik­ing Bias”, and if you believe sales guru Jef­frey Git­o­mer — “All things being equal, we are most like­ly to buy from our friends.” There are dif­fer­ent tech­niques to build rap­port with your SEO clients, and these are:

  • Cheer­lead­ing — Be the first to ini­ti­ate con­tact. Be the bear­er of good news — all the time!
  • Com­mon Ground — This is the eas­i­est and most effec­tive way of accel­er­at­ing the rela­tion­ship-build­ing process. Iden­ti­fy one or two things you have in com­mon, and use these in your con­ver­sa­tions.
  • Humor — Inject humor when talk­ing to your prospects. If you can get them to laugh, you can get them to buy.
  • Mir­ror­ing — Eas­i­er to apply when you’re doing face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions; mir­ror their pos­ture or how they talk or match their pace when engag­ing them.
  • Me-Talk — Give air­time to your prospects rather than you tak­ing the spot­light in the con­ver­sa­tion. The trick is 50%. He who talks more than 50% of the time is los­ing the sale.

Building Desire

The most impor­tant step when you’re sell­ing SEO is to let your prospects know how they will be suc­cess­ful with your agency.

1. Send them a website audit.

Pro­vide them with an audit of their web­site to show areas of improve­ments, what their com­peti­tors are doing, and what their next steps should be. Your web­site audit should be easy to use and explain to your prospects — here’s a sneak peek of a sam­ple web­site audit:

Send an audit

Send­ing prospects a web­site audit not only posi­tions your agency as the expert but also shows that you have the tech­nol­o­gy and tools to find and fix the issues affect­ing their web­site.

2. Prepare a proposal that sells itself.

To win prospects, you need a great look­ing pro­pos­al. But, what should be in the pro­pos­al? The SEO pro­pos­al should include infor­ma­tion about the client, details about your SEO process, the pro­posed solu­tion, the time­lines, and deliv­er­ables.

Pro­pos­als should always be in your sales pitch kit, so be sure to have a tem­plate pre­pared to avoid spend­ing too much of your time cre­at­ing an SEO pro­pos­al.

Prepare your SEO proposal

The most effec­tive way to build desire is to offer a solu­tion to their prob­lem. Don’t end the pitch with­out rein­forc­ing the val­ue of your SEO ser­vice to their busi­ness.

3. Reinforce what they need.

After you hit their prac­ti­cal heart­strings, start pulling on their per­son­al heart­strings. This tech­nique is called “Sell­ing the Per­son­al Need.” Now that you’ve helped them visu­al­ize your exper­tise, help them visu­al­ize their poten­tial pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence and their peace of mind when they work with you.

Gaining Commitment

You should be guid­ing your prospects into what they need to do next. The goal here is to cre­ate a momen­tum that will ulti­mate­ly move them for­ward and get them to close. Gain com­mit­ment from your prospects by:

  • Get­ting them into a “Yes” frame of mind — Prime them with three ques­tions that will get a pos­i­tive response. The third ques­tion has the most weight.
  • Check­ing for under­stand­ing — Be sure they under­stood what the ser­vice is all about. If there is any con­fu­sion, don’t hes­i­tate to go back and explain again.

Gain­ing com­mit­ment is like soft­ly check­ing on someone’s “yes” with­out “pop­ping the ques­tion” direct­ly — yet.

Overcoming Objections

Know how to overcome objections

It’s rare for a sales­per­son to meet no resis­tance when they’re sell­ing SEO to a busi­ness. But, if you encounter any objec­tions dur­ing your pitch, it prob­a­bly means a por­tion of your sales process was weak up to this point. Here is the gueril­la guide to over­com­ing sales objec­tions:

  1. Acknowl­edge — The most pow­er­ful phrase you will use in over­com­ing objec­tions is “I hear you.” Our prim­i­tive brains are sub­con­scious­ly recep­tive to this state­ment, and is very pow­er­ful at dif­fus­ing ten­sion.
  2. Iso­late — Don’t let an objec­tion tail­spin into 2, 3, or 4 issues. You can do this by say­ing “So if I’m under­stand­ing you cor­rect­ly, your pri­ma­ry con­cern here is (Blank). Don’t say “issue,” or “prob­lem”.
  3. Own — The most pow­er­ful phrase for own­er­ship is “I will…” — don’t dis­em­pow­er your­self by say­ing “I’ll check with the boss” or even worse — “I’ll esca­late this to…”
  4. Act — Fol­low through on the com­mit­ment. If you don’t, the trust is lost and you will have lost the sale

Here are some of the most com­mon objec­tions you might encounter with SEO:

Objec­tion 1: “We’re already work­ing with anoth­er agency.”

Rebut­tal: “I can’t speak for oth­er SEO agen­cies out there, but what I can say is that there will be no oth­er group of peo­ple that will take care of your cam­paigns as per­son­al­ly as we will.”

Objec­tion 2: “I don’t see the poten­tial of SEO for our busi­ness’ ROI.”

Rebut­tal: “I can respect that view, espe­cial­ly if you’ve not had luck with a good provider before. But did you know that accord­ing to Mar­ket­ing Sher­pa, the ROI for SEO is $22 per $1 spent.”

Objec­tion 3: “I don’t see what SEO could do for me.”

Rebut­tal: “I under­stand. A lot of peo­ple begin that way until they real­ize cus­tomers are look­ing for their busi­ness 247. 93% of buy­ing expe­ri­ences begin with a search. If you’re not the first on the first page, it’s a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty for cus­tomers to do busi­ness with you.”

Objec­tion 4: “It’s too expen­sive.”

Rebut­tal: “I hear you. And if I were in your shoes hear­ing for the first time, I might too. But, I‘m in this indus­try for a rea­son. After hav­ing seen dozens of cam­paigns per­form and hap­py busi­ness own­ers dis­cov­er how pos­i­tive SEO could be to their busi­ness I feel it’s impor­tant to help you make an informed deci­sion by see­ing the poten­tial ben­e­fit you might miss out on so you can make an intel­li­gent and informed deci­sion.”

Objec­tion 5: “I’ve got­ten burned by a pre­vi­ous SEO agency.”

Rebut­tal: “I under­stand, and I’ve also heard a few hor­ror sto­ries from some of our clients. We have worked with busi­ness­es that had been burned by their pre­vi­ous SEO agen­cies, but we have a 100% bat­ting aver­age in clean­ing it up. Here’s what we did to help them recov­er…”

Closing the Sale

Now comes the hard­est and most impor­tant part — clos­ing. This is your make or break moment. Before prepar­ing that SEO con­tract to close the deal, you want to make sure your sales team is using the right phras­es to ask for your prospect’s busi­ness.

There are three ways to close a sale:

1. Selling the Benefit

Address each of their needs with a ben­e­fit. An exam­ple clos­ing pitch for this is: “I can book the work for you now…”

2. Assertive Close

This is you assum­ing the close, but end­ing it with a ques­tion that offers a lim­it­ed choice. An exam­ple of this is: “I can book the work for you now. Would you like me to send the invoice to your per­son­al Gmail account or work email?”

3. Assumptive Close

This approach assumes the close, with the clos­ing line talk­ing about the next sched­uled con­ver­sa­tion. An exam­ple of this is: “I’ve booked your work and sent the invoice. Will you be avail­able to dis­cuss the intake next Mon­day?”

In every master’s sales book on how to sell SEO, you’ll find one very impor­tant tip. Once you’ve done your clos­ing pitch — STOP TALKING! He who speaks first los­es.

The Post-Sale Experience

Suc­cess­ful­ly clos­ing a client does­n’t mean the end of the sales. Sea­soned dig­i­tal mar­keters who know how to sell SEO pack­ages are those who go to great lengths to main­tain a smooth post-sales expe­ri­ence.

At this point, you have to think of two things: sell­ing addi­tion­al val­ue and get­ting clients to stay.

Additional Value: How Do You Cross-Sell and Upsell?

Cross-sell and upsell for additional valueThe prob­lem with most sales­peo­ple is they bom­bard their clients with addi­tion­al prod­ucts that they may not be inclined to pur­chase now. Clients, espe­cial­ly the Skep­tics and the Alphas, can see right through these attempts. You don’t want to be the annoy­ing sales­man; you have to be savvy in upselling or cross-sell­ing any prod­uct. It’s not about get­ting more buck for your bang — (yes I meant it that way). If your oth­er ser­vices add val­ue to SEO or the prospec­t’s busi­ness, it is your moral oblig­a­tion to pitch it.

How do you go about this? You can drop an open­er, such as “By the way,…” or “Last thing…”, but make sure to keep in mind the fol­low­ing:

  • Only offer to upsell or cross-sell when it’s rea­son­able. The “addi­tion­al val­ue” you’re offer­ing should address the exact needs of your client at the very moment.
  • Keep them updat­ed on any upgrades or addi­tion­al prod­ucts. It’s bet­ter to feed them with infor­ma­tion and show how these can ben­e­fit their busi­ness in the long run.

Getting Clients to Stay

Your rela­tion­ship with clients does­n’t stop at Month 1. It’s your job to cre­ate desire con­tin­u­ous­ly, so they have the rea­son to stay with your agency. We main­tain a code of being proac­tive in the busi­ness, and this is one val­ue that we also push to our part­ners.

You have to be the bear­er of news — whether it’s good or bad, let your clients know. If there’s a big spike in their rank­ings, be the first to tell them. High­light pos­i­tive results by com­par­ing their cur­rent stats with past reports. This will pro­vide your clients with a base­line of improve­ments and show the val­ue you’re deliv­er­ing to their busi­ness.

Pro-tip: Clients want a consistent experience with their SEO agencies, so remember ABC = Always Book your next Call.

Ready to Sell SEO?

Defin­ing your sales process is just the start. The process we’ve described above does­n’t have to be set in stone. It’s all up to you how you plug this into your dai­ly grind. But, one thing we can tell you from our expe­ri­ence — it’s a process that takes away depen­den­cies, helps you align your agen­cy’s goals, and make your sales team bet­ter and more effi­cient at sell­ing SEO to small busi­ness­es and enter­prise-lev­el alike.

If you’re ready to change gears and get those clients to say yes, we invite you to try this process. You’ll find addi­tion­al action points on how to sell SEO in our webi­nar below — it’s FREE for you to watch!

Plus, there are mate­ri­als on the Resource Cen­ter that you can use to sup­ple­ment your sales pitch. Sign up, check them out, and tell us how it goes.

One last tip! Find your most crit­i­cal friend and try your pitch on them. If it works on them, you’re ready.