Although retaining and growing current customers is crucial to the survival of your agency, you’ll need to focus on new sales if you want to scale. Even if you’re an all-star agency owner, you might occasionally come across a truly tough customer whose sales call flops.
We’ve been there. Kelly Donald, Sales Manager at Semify, chats with challenging leads every single week. Some of those leads simply might not be a good fit for our white label SEO reseller program (yet!). Others simply need a bit of helpful guidance to get them going down the right path – from someone who truly understands both their goals and their hesitations.
We wanted to create an SEO sales script to help our partners have more positive and productive sales calls. So we spoke to Kelly the Great and pieced together a Frankenstein’s monster of the toughest, scariest client scenarios she’s faced. Once you see how she handles the World’s Toughest Customer (which we’re calling our “Frankencustomer”), you can steal her approach for a smash-hit SEO sales strategy. Here are some of the SEO sales call tips we learned from Kelly – and how you can use her experience to become #1 at the (box) office.
When the business is their baby, try a gentle reality check
Choosing to outsource marketing can be a big step for many business owners. When they’re used to handling everything themselves, they might not trust someone else enough to take over right away.
Remember: Their business is their baby! As an agency owner, you might relate. It can be scary to relinquish a little bit of control, even if the current process isn’t as effective as it could be. Business owners might not even realize there’s a better way – or they might be too afraid to take that leap of faith.
Often, what they need is a gentle reality check. During Kelly’s SEO sales process, she likes to ask questions that make prospects think without putting them on the defensive. Kelly notes that challenging their line of thinking in this way requires a delicate touch.
Of course, it helps if you can back up your claims with SEO case studies and earn their trust with consistent (yet non-pushy!) communication. “Driving home that ongoing relationship – and assuaging their fears about giving up total control – can work wonders,” Kelly says.
Here’s how this could play out in a sales call.
Frankencustomer: I know my business better than anyone! Outsourcing my marketing could ruin what I’ve built. I’ve been doing it all myself for years, and it’s been working fine.
Kelly: Is what you’re doing really working? Can you continue taking all of this on yourself, including training and managing staff members? Or would you have more time to focus on other core areas of your business if you relied on experts who’ve been doing this for 15+ years? We’re not here to take something away from you. We’re here to support you in what you’re already great at so you can really shine.
Be honest about the challenges and the potential returns
When you’re learning how to handle objections in sales calls first-hand, you’ll probably encounter people who have doubts about SEO. This kind of customer pushback is common, but it’s not insurmountable. Most of the time, it can be addressed with a combination of empathy and creativity.
Some business owners have unsuccessfully attempted to do SEO themselves, while others may have worked with an agency that didn’t have their best interests at heart. It could also be that they’ve heard some misconceptions about SEO and don’t want to take too big a risk.
Setting proper expectations is key here, but so is highlighting the unique benefits of what SEO can offer. During your SEO sales process, you’ll want to show them what they can reasonably expect with SEO and why it’s so important for their marketing efforts. One of Kelly’s favorite tools is our ROI of SEO calculator, which you can use to show clients what they could actually stand to make if they stay the course. “Those numbers are super compelling, even to SEO skeptics!,” Kelly says.
Here’s how this scene might go.
Frankencustomer: I did SEO before and it just didn’t work. Even if you do a better job, I’m still nervous this is going to cost too much without seeing any returns right away.
Kelly: Sure, you can pay more for something like Google Ads and get leads in your inbox tomorrow. But it’s going to cost you. And you’re going to have to keep spending until eternity if you want to keep getting leads. If you put at least some of your marketing dollars into SEO, you’ll get leads at a lower cost and get more of them consistently in the long term. Plus, you’ll build trust and authority at the same time (which you really can’t do with an ad). Let’s look at some numbers and I’ll show you why your returns will be way higher with SEO in the long term.
Remind them there’s a difference between backlink quality and quantity
Backlinks are an integral part of SEO. While there’s still some debate about what makes a good backlink, whether you should buy backlinks for SEO, and whether you should bother with no-follow links, Google has confirmed that backlinks continue to be one of its most important ranking factors. In other words, getting backlinks for your clients can really boost their presence in SERPs.
But that doesn’t mean all backlinks are good backlinks. Nor does it mean that more = better. Other agencies out there promise a ton of backlinks every month for a relatively low price. While it might seem like you can’t compete with them at first, delving into why those links are so cheap can get the prospect to reconsider. Keep in mind that Semify’s transparent reporting model helps you see all of the backlinks we acquire in real time, so you can easily show your client the impact those links have on their strategy once you partner with us.
In this scene, Kelly proves you really do get what you pay for.
Frankencustomer: I’m getting 10 backlinks per month right now with my current provider. You’re promising only 3. How can I possibly justify making the switch?
Kelly: Has that strategy actually been working so far? Are those 10 backlinks a month actually helping you? I took the liberty of performing a simple backlink audit for your site. Things like domain rating and relevance matter the most here. It looks like you’ve been getting a bunch of DR 0 links that don’t have much to do with your business or industry. That’s going to hurt more than help. Getting fewer, higher-quality backlinks will show Google that you’re an authority – and that’s what’s going to help you rank better in SERPs.
Find out what success (or lack thereof) really looks like for the client
In sales, you can’t really make assumptions. While your buyer personas and your own experience can help you understand your typical client, you need to approach each SEO sales pitch with a sense of discovery.
That’s especially true when it comes to finding out a client’s main pain point. If you don’t know what the lead’s largest obstacle is, you’re going to have a hard time learning how to sell SEO effectively. At Semify, we really love the idea of getting curious. You’ll never learn what the customer cares about if you don’t ask! That’s one reason Kelly likes to ask about the customer’s successes, as well. Sometimes, you'll find out that it’s the client’s expectations that are the biggest barrier.
Here’s what we'd see once the proverbial cameras start rolling.
Kelly: What do you imagine getting out of this relationship with us? What’s your ultimate goal?
Frankencustomer: I want to rank on page 1 on a very competitive keyword or 1,000 new visitors coming to my website every month.
Kelly: Okay, let’s talk about that. Those goals may sound really good, but achieving them will take a lot of money and probably won't help your business. Site traffic is great, but without conversions, it's merely a vanity metric. I want to set you up for success, so I’d love to learn more about the outcomes that would actually support your growth. What’s one product that’s super profitable for you? What’s one service that brings in a ton of leads or revenue?
Frankencustomer: X is probably our most popular product. We’re currently getting a lot of our revenue from Y.
Kelly: Okay, great. Those areas are probably where we’d want to focus our SEO strategy. Let me show you our plan options and go over how we can make some real progress that will allow you to thrive.
Not only will this set realistic expectations and build trust, but showing off your knowledge is a great way to lay the foundation for selling SEO alongside your other services. Highlighting how SEO can help them achieve their goals on an ongoing basis will be better for your business (and theirs) than sticking strictly to website development, for example. After all, you’d much rather have monthly recurring revenue than take on a one-time project!
Do the prep work Kelly swears by for better sales
At Semify, we’re disciplined when it comes to our meeting prep work. We make it a point to create agendas and send them out in advance. We even schedule what we call “meeting-meeting” training for all employees, so everyone’s on the same page about how to effectively run and attend everything from standups to brainstorming sessions. We’ve also outlined this agenda prep process in more detail to help you prepare for your own SEO sales calls. Additionally, when we're getting ready for an SEO sales pitch with a potential reseller, our team does substantial preliminary research and often creates sales decks to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Snag Kelly’s SEO sales prep checklist: To develop a successful SEO sales process, you’ve got to start prepping before you ever pick up the phone. Below, Kelly has spelled out what she does before she meets with a prospective client. This checklist can easily be worked into your own SEO sales script!
- Look for obvious technical issues on the client’s website: Is the website slow? Is the content thin? If you were a customer, would the site provide the information you need most? Find the easy wins first and be sure to discuss them with the lead.
- Perform a simple website audit: Beyond the glaring issues, take a slightly deeper dive to find where they need the most help. Remember that you can request a proposal or full sales deck from Semify (which can include elements like keyword research, website traffic, backlink profile info, competitor analysis, plan recommendations, and suggested strategies) to help you show exactly why the client needs your services!
- Research the client’s business: Look at their website, their social media, and even their online reviews (especially Clutch.co and Glassdoor reviews) to learn more about their operations and potential pain points. While you should always get curious on the call, you don’t want to go in cold.
- Prep an agenda and share in advance: Around here, we create an agenda before every meeting and share it at least 24 hours in advance. Having an agenda to follow can help you stay on track while allowing room for natural conversation and discovery.
- Make the call about the client: Although you want to highlight how you can help, resist the urge to shamelessly promote yourself. Instead, learn more about the prospect and how to solve their problems to build trust. Simply taking the time to have a real, human interaction – rather than going through a hard sales pitch – can build the foundation for a fruitful and genuine relationship.
We’ll help you revamp your digital marketing sales script (and help you scale!)
These sales call tips are a good reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to grow your business. With help from Kelly, you can edit your own SEO sales script to make it award-worthy.
And when you want to focus on perfecting your SEO sales pitch, you need fulfillment support you can count on. When we partner up, you can pay more attention to how to handle objections in sales calls and waste less time on the nitty gritty of SEO deliverables. For more information on how to start scaling your agency with our white label SEO program, get in touch with us today.