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Selling SEO is easier than most think. Well, it’s as easy as selling anything else, really.
How easy that comes to you as an agency owner or web professional really depends on the type of agency owner you are.
You see some agency owners started their agency because they were great at selling and they knew they could sell the agency services. While others were natural technicians and craftspeople and were excellent at their specialized service. The latter more often than not struggles with selling SEO if this was not their area of expertise.
It definitely helps to have an understanding of your service or product in order to best sell it. However, that does not mean that you need to be a subject matter expert on the topic.
What I’m going to try to create in this post (and possibly series of posts) is a resource that will enable you to successfully sell SEO solutions without having to know the specific details that an experienced strategist or specialist would know.
This is a conversation we have with our white label SEO partners over and over so we are quite comfortable with it. How to sell SEO services to clients without being a subject matter expert comes down to understanding your clients and their business more so than knowing how to build links or optimize for page speed.
How to sell SEO services: Three Scenarios
I’m going to outline a few scenarios where you may want to or have to sell or present organic search engine optimization as an option for your client. Then we will dive into the strategies we use and the differences in approach between these scenarios.
Selling SEO services to warm leads that have requested it
We’re talking about warm leads here. Someone requested more information from your website or you were handed a warm referral. That potential client has expressed interest or a priority in SEO.
This is by far the easiest scenario to handle and one in which we can help you get your close rate very high. It’s really important to understand one key factor here.
Your lead has already expressed interest in SEO and they understand (at least somewhat) its importance to their business.
In other words, they are already sold on SEO, now it’s your job to sell them on why they should choose your agency to build the strategy and execution to go with it.
Selling SEO services as an add-on to other services
In my opinion, this is what can really set you apart as an agency and unlock a bit more earning potential in your business.
The scenario here is that you have an existing relationship where you served this client in some way – maybe you completed a web project or handled another area of their marketing.
While they may not have specifically asked for SEO services, you’ve identified organic search as an area of opportunity for their business and since you are their trusted partner, you want to get them to pay attention to SEO and sell them on additional services.
In other words, they are already sold on you as an agency, they just aren’t sold on SEO as a service yet.
Selling SEO services as a foot-in-the-door product to cold contacts
While this is a very interesting topic and a lot of SEOs talk about leveraging paid or free SEO audits as a business development initiative, this is not going to be the area of focus for this post. Instead, I may consider creating this piece of content separately in the future.
The idea here is that based on your prospecting, you’ve identified a potentially good fit client that also could benefit from SEO. But they have no experience with you as an agency and you are unaware of their history with SEO.
Step by step process to selling SEO
1. Gather additional business context
This is important as it will let you speak directly to the areas of the business that they want to focus on, or are a priority or most profitable to them. This will show that you really understand their business and have paid attention.
There’s nothing worse than positioning your entire pitch on an opportunity that exists for the business that doesn’t actually generate them any profit or they don’t enjoy doing.
Understand their business by asking questions.
2. Conduct a discovery review of issues and opportunities
This is like a free SEO audit. Or whatever form of discovery you would want to do. We do a free audit.
This looks at a mix of issues and opportunities to technical aspects, keyword relevance, content, website structure, local relevance, link profile, along with a review of opportunity to understand what areas of their business could we really move the needle for quickly to shoot great wins at the start of the campaign.
We provide these for free for our white label SEO partners but it’s simple enough to do these yourself.
3. Determine a good fit for SEO and where to start
If you’re selling to existing clients you’ll likely be doing the above discovery without any contact with the client and only if the client is a good fit for organic services would you really want to reach out to set up a conversation. However, if this is a warm lead, you’re going to want to be extra sure that this website and business is a good fit with how you structure a campaign and approach SEO.
Sometimes a website isn’t going to have enough content and will need to focus on content creation to start before getting into other growth-focused efforts. This is important to highlight early to avoid scope creep or increasing budgets during the campaign.
4. Present significant issues + opportunities + your approach or process
They are a good fit. We know a bit more about their business and their specific market and the opportunity that exists for them within it.
Now it’s time to communicate some of this plus educate them on how you are going to take your process and help them grow through SEO.
I’ve glossed over this step fairly quickly, but structuring an SEO sales call is pretty significant and is something I will explore in a separate post because it deserves its own in-depth discussion.
5. Deliver proposal outlining cost and scope of work
Once you have delivered the findings and the plan of action, it’s good practice to also deliver a written scope of work explaining how the campaign works and the process, any tasks, deliverables, etc. are to be mapped out. This usually includes pricing and a sign-off to get started.
6. Get sign off and book a kick-off call
Get the sign-off. We provide all of our partners with these proposals and scope of work documents, but you could easily wrap these in any third party proposal software like Proposify to get the sign-off and deposits quickly and easily.
Once you have the sign-off you now move into the client journey and we need to focus on their satisfaction and confirm that they have made the right decision.
This typically starts by booking an SEO campaign kick-off call.
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