There was some really interesting discussion in the forum a few days ago about how to sell SEO. Specifically, a reseller asked:

"For those of us who really understand internet marketing and the process, it would be really useful if you guys discussed the product in more detail. Maybe Chad can sell to Adam using a consultative approach."

That is a really great question so we decided to record this video the very same day we saw this question. So here goes, no script, Semify tells all!


Good afternoon, Semify forum. We see some interesting discussion here today about how to sell seo. I wanted to record a video and get into this discussion. Specifically, I'm reading here, Chad, for us, hi, Adam and Chad, for those of us who really understand internet marketing and the process, it would be really useful if you guys discussed the product in more detail. Maybe Chad can sell to Adam using a consultative approach.

It would be really helpful for us and for new reps to learn how to sell seo. I think that's kind of interesting, Chad. So I thought maybe today, we'd do a free forum, go off script, and just chat a little bit about how can we help these guys, how can we role play for these guys, how do you get people into the right internet marketing product?

That's a great question. We did a webinar a couple months, ago, about three, four months ago-- and we'll make sure we reference it when we post this up on the forum-- but I talked about that a great way to start an engagement is to do an online marketing assessment. And that's really a good way of understanding what's going on with a client in terms of online marketing in general. So that might be are they using email, how are they doing with organic search, how are they doing with pay per click.

So really getting a sense overall what's going on. So make sure you reference that. Jumping right into how to sell SEO, there's one of three things that I always want to do when I'm talking to a customer and trying to understand what their goals and therefore, which products are appropriate. I always either want to understand. They may be doing per click and know that if I could just rank on this keyword, or if I could improve my position on this keyword, I know from paid search that I would get a great conversion rate.

My issue is I just don't rank well enough on that keyword. So that's always a great place to go, because they kind of understand the value of that keyword. They know they're paying a certain amount of money every month to bring that traffic in. So that's one great way to do it.

The other way is they also know their competitors. Most businesses out there are very keenly aware of their competitors. And it irks them to no end to see their competitors ranking above them. So that's often another great way to at least start to discussion, so that you understand what the objectives are before you start saying, OK, well, I'm going to throw you a plan three and a plan four. You need to start with what's the objective, what's the goal.

And, how to sell seo, then you can get into, how am I going to help you accomplish that goal? So you've got two profiles there, Chad. One is someone who's doing PPC. I would think that's probably one of the best places to start, easiest sells, because if they're doing paid search, they know how much that bill is to Google every month. And they're probably seeking you as the vendor, because they're looking to reduce their cost per lead. And they've done their research, and they know that SEO generally has a lower cost per lead.

But and they're ready to spend some money because they've got a budget. So that's probably dream scenario. But you're saying the second one is, you don't have paid search under their belt. They definitely know about their competition. They've been looking at it. And again, that's a fairly educated consumer also, because there are at least tuned into their rankings, they know about the channel, and they're studying it, and they're studying their competitors. So I think you're right. Those conversations are a little different. You probably need a different sales approach. What do you do when neither of those is the case, and you've got the less educated, less experienced, and I would suspect a lot of the folks, our resellers are doing when they're in this bucket, where they've never run paid search, they don't really understand search engine optimization. I know my approach has always been to try to couch the conversation in terms of they know, which is start with the Yellow Pages.

Remember in the old days, when the Yellow Pages was where it was at? Or maybe you ran an ad in the newspaper, and you bond with them around that topic. And you're like, yeah, I always hated the Yellow Pages, but looking back, I miss those days. You're like, yeah, well, Google is the new Yellow Pages. Is that the on ramp there there? Where does the conversation go from there, and how do you figure out which product to put them in? All good questions-- I think a lot of times, there is also people's experiences as well, because I have a lot of people who have come to me and said I don't like paid search. They didn't run an effective campaign. They probably blew their money on something. But for whatever reason, they just decided that they don't like paid search. And also the same is true with SEO. I don't like SEO. I've tried it, and it didn't work. Most, likely they didn't really have a successful campaign, because what they were doing wasn't the right stuff. But you have to also take those biases . And so if you totally have a blank slate, which is unusual, what I'll often tried to do is put together a phased approach, where phase one might be exploring and getting some ideas of what kinds of keyword volume there is with a paid search campaign, and then saying that at the 30th day or the 90th day or whatever you feel is right, that we identify and evaluate the paid search campaign and then look at what we can do from an SEO standpoint to move forward.

And then again, if the bias is, I hate paid search, I'll never do paid search again, then you have to start with doing keyword research and looking at what other keywords out there. And if they don't know the competitors, then go find some of the competitors that you think would be relevant. So if you're talking about a local business that does roofing, search for roofers in your market, see who comes up, and then maybe use an online research tool to look at other keywords that might be relevant to that business as a way to start the exploration process.

I think those are good points. I also agree with you. From someone who has had no formal internet marketing initiatives, going from Yellow Pages to SEO, I feel like it's a pretty tough jump. That's zero to 60. SEO is a complex product. It takes a long time to work. Content marketing is fairly esoteric when you get down to it, and very complex, again. So I really like pulling them there right away is very hard, because there's so much education. They're just not ready for it, even if they say they are and have the time to listen to you. They just can't absorb and understand that quickly. And invariably, that 60, 90, 120 day itch comes along where they are expecting to see the results just like they're used to in the Yellow Page days. And SEO just isn't there, because it takes that much longer for content marketing really to work. So my advice is always, yeah, Chad, what you said, put them into paid search also on a pilot basis and say, no, look, I have to earn your trust and show you this migration path from Yellow Pages, something you understood, to online marketing.

And PPC is obviously the fastest way to do that. Get them leads. Make their phone ring. But tracking here is critical. You got to attract those phone calls. You got to record those phone calls.

How to sell seo? Don't run out and do this without analytics hooked up and phone tracking, because you need to be able to show them, look, you paid this money, and I got the phone to ring. And you're building trust there. And we know where the problem is. And you said it, Chad, some of them will have initial bias. I hate PPC-- too expensive.

Others will develop that bias over the first three months, say, wow, you're right. I'm getting the phone to ring. So they're starting to trust the internet. But I can't keep up this pace. I can't pay this cost per lead. This cost per client acquisition is too high-- subtle but important. Now, you've shifted the conversation from, I don't understand, don't trust the internet to, I like it, I want more, I just need it cheaper.

When thinking about how to sell seo, that's your upsell or your cross sell into SEO. But you don't do that day one. You've now had three months of bringing them phone calls. You can listen to the calls. You're also consulting with them about the inadequacies in their sales funnel, their follow up activities, their lack of closure. We know these are notoriously big problems for small business.

And they're going to impact that whole perception of value. For you, pitching this new internet marketing channel, it's all tied together. It's pretty complex stuff, but if you have this rigorous process, move them along, consult with them, talk to them through it, you can grow those guys and keep them for long term clients. And Adam, one other thing just to close this out, once you then transition from what the opportunity and what makes the most sense for that client, now, the other part of the question was, what plan is right? We've tried to give you some guidelines to help you identify that, mostly through what kind of keywords we're talking about. So we try to help you figure out if you want to target these three or four keywords, that this is the plan that would be most appropriate for it.

And the one other branch in the logic as you're picking how to sell seo, is you need to think about, is this is a local business, and will Google Maps be important? Or is this somebody that's more regional or national, where I can go with pure, organic SEO? I don't need to take on the overhead of the local part of the SEO program.

So that's what we often do, is it all starts with identifying the need. And then we transition into, OK, now that we understand the need and everyone is on the same page with that, we can now make some recommendations. And of course, it always goes without saying that you want to give your end customer a choice. Psychology always talks about three choices-- good, better, best. People will typically benchmark off the high. They don't pick the low. They don't want to be cheap. They don't pick the high, because they just don't. They usually benchmark up the high, and they pick the one in the middle.

So give them a good, better, best type of program suggestion. And that's typically how we would present a proposal for people. Cool. Well, thanks for your questions. Thanks for your participation in the Semify forum. That's us shooting from the hip to try to give you some guidance. We encourage some feedback and even more specifics. And we'd be happy to record some more videos. Otherwise, we'll see you around the forums.