Back in my agency days, I sat in on my fair share of SEO sales pitches. These days as Raven Internet Marketing Tools' product marketing manager, I get to talk to a lot of prospective users. What I've found is that both sales pitches are quite similar, you just have to focus on two things: preparation and clarity.
Going into a sales pitch having done both your research and projecting what questions your prospective client may ask will go a long way. I find preparation to be even more important if you're pitching to a small business. At minimum, you should have looked at the following prior to your meeting:
- An understanding of what it is the prospective client does and who you believe their top online competitors tend to be. I'm always surprised by how many people go into meetings blind on these subjects. Not only does it help make the meeting more efficient, it shows that you've taken an interest in the project and allows you to ask better questions.
- First impressions of their site. From a quick scan, what can you immediately gauge from it? Is it clear what service the provide or what product they sell? Be sure to have a few ideas of what you will want to do with their site at the initial meeting
- Get an idea of 3-5 keywords you think they either are currently targeting and/or what you think might be a good fit for the SEO project. This is a way to help demonstrate your knowledge in the industry in a way that's easy for the prospective client to understand. I'll dive more into this in the "clarity" section.
- At least two different strategies you think they might be interested in. I've never been a fan of set SEO packages because every website is different and is in a completely different state. Given what your initial analysis of the site, have a general idea of two different strategies you could engage with them and what their pricing would be. You'll have more time to do a deeper dive into their site to get a more complete strategy put together, but you can at least have the foundation of it ready as it is inevitable that it will be discussed.
- Have case studies related to the campaign strategies you'll be recommending. It's great that you've worked with Client A before, but if the project wasn't similar in what you're recommending for them, what's the point? Make sure you leave it behind for them to review more in greater detail after the meeting.
Basically there are a few things we're trying to make stand out to our prospective client:
- We care about this project, which is why we've already invested some time on it
- We take pride in the work that we do, which is why we didn't come to this meeting cold
- This isn't our first project like this, and they can trust us
This is without a doubt the hardest part of any sales pitch. What you have to keep in mind at all times is that you are the expert and that's why your client is interested in hiring you. And as an expert you're much more familiar with the industry then they are or than they have time to be. As a result, you'll naturally start using industry jargon and acronyms and probably won't even realize that what you just said meant absolutely nothing to your prospective client. While you're in the meeting, do everything you can to avoid those terms when possible or to at least define them after you use it if you think it helps demonstrate your industry knowledge.
With any deliverables you leave with the client, whether that be a handout I mentioned earlier or just some general background information about your company, consider putting together a Quick Facts that lays out a summary of what they need to know about SEO to make this engagement go as smooth as possible. Include only the important definitions and explanations and try to make it as simple to read as possible. Also, think of it as a blog post you are hoping will go viral - include pictures and be engaging with the content. After all, you do want them to remember you.
8 thoughts on “The Keys to the SEO Sales Pitch: Preparation and Clarity”
Fantastic post which can be used as a kind of checklist for getting prepared for the SEO sales pitch.
My advice would be to approach the meeting with the mindset of their trusted advisor who is there to fix their problem *not* as a salesman.
In my experience most people don’t like to be sold to.
Thanks Cliff! That’s an excellent point and something people should really take note of. That can go a long way in helping them feel more comfortable and confident with you and your services.
You mention nothing of understanding the clients commercial objectives and therefore how an SEO strategy maps back to these. I think this is absolutely essential information required before going into the pitch as it demonstrates an understanding of the bigger picture and a commercial astuteness.
Very good point, Ben. However, in the past I’ve found that it’s very rare going into the sales meeting that the client has given you enough information to prepare something like that. We can make assumptions as to what those objectives are (based on their CTA on their site), but that’s assuming they’ve set that up properly.
Still, I think that it should definitely be something included in the post because it will still make you that much more prepared to give them a more accurate outline of what your SEO strategy may entail. Thanks for the suggestion!
Hi Taylor, no problem at all. My view is that the better SEO agencies look at the bigger picture and as such will look to extract commercial / financial objectives prior to the pitch meeting. We have always found prospects willing to give this information prior to the pitch…although sometimes (and somewhat worringly!) they dont always know what their commercial objectives are! If this is the case, it suggests a lack of a business plan, which will usually see us recommend they get this in place before they throw money at SEO.
I think this consultative approach is what seperates the good from the bad in the SEO market. The bad are willing to take money for SEO without considering the bigger picture whereas the better agencies will only take on SEO projects when the client is ready to invest i.e. they have a proper business plan in place, of which SEO can be aligned to.
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