Most people have had a bad experience with SEO or know someone else who has. This is frequently due to scam services, but it can also be due to unrealistic expectations when trying to handle SEO, whether in-house or with an agency. Businesses in these positions are often skeptical about trying again — the last thing they want to do is waste more money.
It can be difficult to sell to prospects in this position. They are often aware of the benefits of SEO but may believe that it would be better to allocate their marketing budget to other activities. To close a sale, you need to convince these clients that they are wrong to dismiss SEO entirely.
Find Out What Went Wrong
First, you need to find out what went wrong before or what horror stories prospects have heard from others. Only with this information can you address their concerns, showing them what you will do differently.
For instance, a client may tell you a story of an agency spinning their content, which resulted in penalization from Google. In this situation, you would explain that this is a black hat tactic, why it fails, and what you do instead.
If the problem was that the business implemented their own SEO strategy and the results were poor, ask followup questions to determine what they were doing wrong. You can then explain how to do it right, pointing out that a professional service with a team of experts is the only way to achieve this.
After you hear about a client’s concerns, you need to keep listening. A major part of SEO is about building a relationship of trust. Taking time to hear everything the prospect has to say and asking pertinent questions will show that you are committed to understanding the business. You will demonstrate that you are prepared to learn all about the company’s wants and needs.
The worst thing you can do is to launch straight into a sales pitch. Not only does this come across as pushy, it is also impossible to tell clients what you are able to do for them until you know more about their expectations.
Set Realistic Targets
Defining specific targets is extra important when selling to prospects who are dubious that they will receive the promised results. Explain what they can expect to achieve and in what timeframe. Defining a timeline will allow clients to see that you are on track.
If a client is expecting more significant results in a shorter time, explain why this is impossible. For instance, talk about how it takes time to build authority online. Explain how growth is exponential as a business develops a digital presence.
Relate SEO to Business Goals
Rather than talking about rankings and traffic, discuss how your efforts will bring conversions and customers. Talking about SEO in terms of business goals will help demonstrate that your services are necessary. Find out what is most important to the business and explain how SEO supports those goals.
Back up all your claims with proof. Show case studies of clients in similar situations or industries. Explain what action you took in language the client can understand and point out what you achieved after different time periods.
Demonstrate an Understanding of the Business
When you meet with a prospect, come prepared with a solid understanding of the business and an idea of how you will tackle SEO. This will demonstrate that you are delivering a unique strategy tailored to the client’s individual needs and not using a one-size-fits-all approach that will likely fail.
Use statistics to show that you understand the challenges the business is facing. Talk about potential opportunities and how you will be able to access them.
When to Drop a Prospect
When you are considering taking on a client for whom SEO failed in the past, you can never rule out the possibility that the problem was on the client’s end. For example, it may be that the client was unwilling to invest enough in the strategy, wanted faster results than is possible, or otherwise had unrealistic expectations.
If this is the case, you may want to drop the client. No matter how stellar your SEO services, there are some issues you cannot overcome. You will only run into the same problems the client had with previous agencies or in house. An exception is if the client agrees to take a different approach this time. However, if you are unsure that you will see a change in attitude, you may have a failure on your hands that could impact your future business.
Selling SEO is about mutual trust. The client needs to trust that you will bring a top-quality service and you need to be sure that the client will invest enough time, resources, and patience to see results. In this way, pitching to wary clients is much like selling to anyone else. You simply need to communicate how SEO will take the business to the next level and why you are the best choice for this service.