Repeat after me…
There are only three reasons why a prospect will not invest in you (or your SEO agency)
- They Don’t Have the Money
- They Truly Aren’t Interested
- They Don’t TRUST you (or by extension your agency)
The first two issues are resolved when you follow the prospecting techniques you’ll read below.
Number 3 is something else altogether and it’s the one that most people get wrong…
You see, trust is the key factor to closing any sale no matter what you’re buying. Whether it’s a grocery item or a car. There are always trust signals that quietly close the deal. For example it might be a free trial, a warranty, or a brand name that’s been around for 100 years.
If you’ve ever made the mistake of buying without that level of trust – you remember it (looking at you – random Instagram gadget ads).
So how does all of this play out when it comes to building an SEO agency? Let’s get to it.
SEO Agency 101
Make sure you take care of your own house (website). No one wants to hear the “cobbler’s kids have no shoes” excuse. You need to set up a professional presence.
- A professional logo
- A branded domain name
- A website (shocker)
- Be sure to optimize each page very well. Do your research, write unique titles and metas.
- Setup a lead capture for email marketing (MailChimp is free)
- Use a scheduling system (Calendly works well and is free)
- Business phone line (Google Voice works well for this -You have to be willing to talk to clients on the phone)
The above items are all necessary in order to be taken seriously. Once you have them in place, you can move forward with prospecting.
Prospecting for SEO Clients
Step #1 – Target Prospects That Have Money For Marketing
There are a few key ways to ensure that you don’t run into the “I don’t have the money for SEO” objection.
This is pretty classic advice for new and experienced SEO’s alike. Providing SEO services has gotten competitive over the last decade. Picking the right vertical (or niche within it) does a couple of great things for your prospecting efforts.
First, you’ll find that the competition is reduced. It won’t be reduced to nothing, however, it will mean that you’re not competing with the biggest agencies in the world.
Second, and this may be even more valuable. You’ll be selecting a group of professionals that you’re certain can afford your services. One sale produced from the traffic you send them and your fees are paid for months or even a year. (Pro Tip: your job is producing worthwhile rankings – it’s up to them to convert it)
Classic verticals you may have heard of that fit that descriptions are:
- Vanity Medical Services (IE: the many versions of plastic surgery services)
- Car Dealerships
There are literally hundreds more perhaps thousands. All of these potential clients share one key ingredient…
They make a good amount of money PER SALE. That means it may only take one or two sales for them to recoup an entire year’s worth of your SEO services (even at higher end pricing). Often these types of client’s have a very high LTV or lifetime customer value as well.
All of that profit makes it a lot easier for them to say yes to hiring your agency.
Step #2 – Top 3 Ways to Find Those Types of SEO Prospects
A – Search Your Niche + City Name
What businesses are on page 2? Clearly they’d prefer to be on page 1. These days page 3 doesn’t product many good leads, but occasionally it will. Sound too easy?
Think about what you now have.
- A prospect in the niche you’re targeting
- A site that needs better rankings
- Contact information
Add their contact info to a spreadsheet and notes about where you found them.
How you contact them is your choice. However, we suggest a specific cold email strategy that’s much less annoying / tough than cold calls. More on that soon.
B – Scale Up After You’ve Practiced
You can really scale up this process pretty easily. But fair warning. You don’t want to do this until you’ve at least practiced the above on 10 contacts above. We’re just talking practice, you don’t have to wait until you have your first client, but it might help.
OK – so I’m certainly not going to take credit for this method. However, I’ve tested it and building huge lists of targeted prospects is shockingly easy with it. There’s a similar blog post to this one in fact, over on Ahref’s blog. It’s a great read.
You’re going to need access to that tool to accomplish this method. It’s worth it. I’ll let their author explain the nitty gritty details. In short, you can search Ahref’s database by keyword (or keyword and city), do some intelligent sorting, and BAM. You’ve got a list of potentially thousands of sites that fit your prospecting needs.
This is powerful. Because of that it should really only be used by experienced SEOs. If you’re just starting I could see this creating problems for you. That’s just this author’s opinion though.
C – Bidding for Work on Freelance Sites
This one may be a bit controversial. For some reason SEO’s find freelance sites to be beneath them or too competitive. The truth is though these site’s are full of potential clients that are raising their hands saying “we have money to spend on SEO.”
Sure you’ll be competing against low end providers. That’s not really a problem. Not all clients go for the cheapest option. Some people prefer higher end providers.
D – White Labeling Your Services
Offering white label services to other agencies is a great way to grow your own agency. White labeling simply means that you provide services under the brand of the agency that hired you.
Their client will see you as an employee of the agency they hired and you invoice the agency for your work behind the scenes. It’s a win-win scenario. You grow and the agency that hired you has a chance to scale.
E – Use Paid Advertising
What!? Use paid ads to drive more leads to my SEO agency? Insane! More leads are for losers!
Leads are the life blood of your agency, why would you ignore any source just because your specialty is organic traffic? It cracks me up when people leave comments on our FB ads that we must be horrible at SEO because we use ads. That comment is only made by someone who’s never built a business.
With that said you certainly want to leave this step until you’ve got a good amount of experience and clients under your belt. You’ll have your systems in place and know exactly who you your audience is. That’ll save you a lot of trial and error when advertising.
Step 2 – Making Sure They’re Interested
Cold prospecting is a very polarizing subject for marketers. Many love utilizing these strategies. Many do not. You’ll find many say that it doesn’t work. Do yourself a favor and ignore the negative voices on this subject.
Million dollar businesses have been built with cold email alone. It’s simply a numbers game as you’ve heard before. Maybe you contact 50 before you first client. Maybe 150. It will be worth it over time.
Your First Email Is crucial
Start sending emails. Your first contact email may look something like this (also an excellent swipe email on the post mentioned above)
Subject: Website issues
I’m Dustin, I’m looking for the appropriate person to speak with. I noticed a couple of issues with your website that might explain why it isn’t generating more traffic and revenue.
I noticed your site is on page 2 of Google in your location. Would if I sent a quick video over to you showing you why your competitors are out ranking you?
If you’re interested reply back with a simple “yes” and I’ll get the video right over to you.
Of course you don’t have to create a video for them until they say yes. We’re just looking for a “yes” or to be passed onto the appropriate person to speak with.
Step 3 – Building Trust
Step #1 – Create Video Reviews for Establishing Expertise
Start by doing some video reviews of sites in your niche unsolicited. The purpose of these videos are so that you can post them on your site to display expertise. They’re not for the site owner’s specifically. They’re demo pieces essentially.
Step #2 – Creating Video Reviews For Prospects
By communicating with these leads and sending them personalized emails and a video – you’re halfway there. Your showing them value with absolutely no commitment on their part.
What should the video look like?
Great question – you’ll find a lot of examples of these on YouTube if you simply search SEO audit. However, yours will need to include:
- Data showing them the problem (data showing their traffic value vs competition)
- Here are a few tips they can use to improve (Titles, Metas, Authoritative Content, Internal linking, etc)
These videos will go a long way in building the trust you need to close the deal. Without these a close will be few and far between (unless it’s a referral from a friend – that’s built in trust value).
Closing The Deal
To close the deal you’re at the very least going to need to speak with the prospect over the phone. A screen share call would at least allow you to show the prospect some data if necessary (IE: a proposal you may have made with https://qwilr.com/ or similar tool). The goal of this talk is to let them know what to expect and ask for the sale.
Here are some keys to closing an interested lead.
#1 – Be Honest & Be Yourself – No need to pretend to be some high powered sales exec. Here are some things you should let them know:
A – You’ll be fully transparent with your work (you’ll want to make sure you say this to them more than once. Your review video is a great time to get that in)
B – Let them know that even if you don’t require a contract it usually takes up to a six month commitment to see reasonable results. If you want them to sign a contract – that’s up to you but you can’t be afraid to ask.
C – Let them know what to expect when they are “on-boarded”
#2 – Ask For the Sale
You won’t say it like that obviously. You’ll find the phrase that works best for you. In the past when I was certain they understood the value and that they needed the help – I’d simply say:
“Let’s get this campaign started. I’ll shoot you an invoice via Paypal now”
You have to do this. If you let them off the phone at this point the sale is much less likely to happen. Get a financial commitment then and there.