I’ve never really been a “salesy” type of person.
I don’t feel comfortable schmoozing people or over-promising things to them. Nor do I enjoy feeling manipulated by salespeople, and would never want a client to feel that way with me. Rather, I’m the kind of person who likes to keep my head down and focus on my local SEO work.
So naturally, one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is how to close an SEO deal. And unless you’re a Tony Robbins or Dale Carnegie, you may facing the same challenge and asking yourself, “How can I get better at closing SEO deals?”
If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Lots of people struggle to close the deal, often because they haven’t taken the time to learn a few basics. Luckily, it’s a straightforward matter and you can become more effective at closing. Best of all, you don’t have to resort to any used car salesman tactics to do it. Hooray.
Closing the deal has a lot to do with asking the right questions. While there’s some basic psychology involved (I’ll get to that below), asking the right questions can help your client understand what they’re actually after, leading them to your desired conclusion:
That they need your local SEO help.
So, what are the right questions to ask a client who just might be really interested in your services?
In the world of critical thinkers, they’re known Socratic questions. They’re questions that get to the core of an issue (just like ‘ol Socrates did), so you can break it apart and jump in to solve it. If it sounds complicated, it’s not. Here’s how to become a Socratic questioning whiz in four steps.
TIP >>> I highly recommend you take Brennan Dunn’s course: Double Your Freelancing Rate.
The first step is to ask your potential client what problems they’re having with their local SEO strategy (or lack thereof). Maybe something is broken on their website or their phone isn’t ringing enough. Let them talk about all of the SEO-related problems they’re having and hear them out. Let them vent everything. Spoiler: By doing so, you can swoop in at the end of the conversation as the hero who has the solutions to their problems.
After you’ve nailed down their main SEO problems, ask them what their worst case scenario will be if they don’t address their problems. Will their rankings tank if they don’t get their website fixed? Will they go out of business if they don’t get the phone ringing? The goal is to get them to realize that the problem is pressing (because it probably is), and that they have to take action before things get even worse.
Now that you’ve identified their problem and the worst case scenario, you can move the conversation in a more positive direction. This is where you should ask your potential client what their ideal outcome is. For example, what benefits would they see if their local SEO problem was resolved? Let them frame their own answer so they can clearly see the dangling carrot in front of them, possibly for the first time.
Now that you know what their wants and needs are, you can swoop in as the hero. Tell them you can attempt to fix the problem they are having (if you can actually do it). Give them hope that their problem can be resolved with your help. This will help them to see that there is in fact a solution; one that has the potential to turn everything around.
Once you’ve navigated your potential client from a problem-focused mindset to a solution-oriented one, it’s time to think about the proposal. Proposals should always be on your terms (not theirs), and the potential client is free to accept or reject it.
Let me explain a little more.
When it comes to SEO client proposals, you want to make it clear that you’re the expert, that your time is valuable, and that you can only take on some SEO projects if they’re a good fit. If this feels a bit unsettling at first, it may be helpful to consider:
Who’s been doing local SEO for years? You.
Who has a successful local SEO track record? You.
Who’s the one that is able to help? You.
Who’s going to solve their biggest SEO headaches? You.
By remembering that you’re providing a valuable service that will result in a positive outcome for your clients, you’ll:
- Project greater confidence when pitching.
- Help to weed out any bad clients that you might regret taking on later.
The truth is, you don’t want every prospective client that crosses your path. A bad client can be a nightmare — demanding that you drop everything to take their calls and fix things at midnight, (and want rock-bottom prices to boot). Just say no if they are not a good fit or if you don’t think you can get them the local SEO results that they need.
Speaking of “no,” I just read a fantastic book by Chris Ross called Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It. Ok, full disclosure: I listened to the audiobook because it was faster. Nevertheless, this book has a ton of great information in it, including the following tidbits.
You’d think that when trying to make a deal, the last thing you want to hear is “no.” But contrary to popular belief, that’s not always true. Turns out you may want to get a “no” at the beginning of a negotiation instead of a “yes.” To understand this, it helps to understand what yes and no really mean.
For starters, “no” doesn’t mean “I’ll never.” As Chris explains, when a client says no at the beginning, it often simply means:
- “I am not yet ready to agree”
- “I don’t understand it”
- “I don’t think I can afford it”
- “I need more information”
- “I want to talk it over with someone else”
It’s like, even if we do really want that new car, dishwasher, or gym membership, it may take us a while to get to the point where we’re ready to part with our cold, hard cash. In fact, hesitation is perfectly healthy and normal.
As Chris says, “If the client can tell you “no,” then they are not being manipulated. They feel in control and are much more likely to believe you’re a straight shooter. They’ll also be happier about whatever agreement you make because it didn’t feel like they were bullied into it.”
While in most cases you do want to eventually get to a “yes” with a client, don’t worry if it’s a no at the top. Once you secure a “yes”, it will be more concrete and genuine.
Have you ever considered the difference between the phrases “That’s right,” and “You’re right?”
A key difference is that “You’re right” is often used to get someone else to shut up and go away, whereas “That’s right” is an agreement. Big, big difference.
As you’ve probably guessed, you always want to go for a “That’s right” in your negotiations. When you can trigger a person to say, “That’s right,” you’ve effectively created an agreement that signals the other person feels you understand them. This can even cause feel-good chemicals to be released in the brain.
And when you can get a prospective client to the place where they agree with you and feel good about it, you’re that much closer to closing the deal.
Looking for more guidance on running a successful SEO business? Check out “Bring Home the Bacon“.