How To Sell Your Local SEO Services Like A Rockstar
Selling Local SEO in 2014 is an ordeal. Nowadays everyone and their cousin claims to be a Local expert. The “good guys” who actually know their stuff and can demonstrate results need to thrive for this industry to grow.In this guide, we hope to share with you some of the techniques that could help you, one of the good guys, thrive, get more customers and become Local SEO Sales Rockstars.
Find Your Niche
It’s extremely important that you establish your expertise in a niche that you understand, have worked with for a long time and have a passion for.
The basic tenets of local SEO holds true in all sectors, however, if you know the niche well enough it will be easier for you to learn and execute your plan for a particular business. Moreover when the business owner or decision maker sees that you really understand their industry they are more likely to open up to you and trust you. A dentist will not be impressed if you start talking about how to optimize their marketing plan for customers looking for orthodontists.
When you really understand the industry it will be easier for you to leverage the knowledge. It will also be easier for you to understand where the money is. If it’s a niche where people can’t afford to pay you more than couple of hundred dollars a month it wouldn’t make sense to pitch your whole plethora of services. At the end of the day you are running a business and you need to be profitable.
The massive advantage you’ll have being niche-focused when you’re selling to the local business audience cannot be understated. After all, even large local business sales-focused companies like Yodle and ReachLocal use industry-specific reviews to sell to the market.
Read about how industry guru Mike Ramsey is trying to build a multi-million dollar local marketing business focused on lawyers.
How to go about finding your niche:
– Look at who your existing customers are. If a majority of them are coming from one industry, it makes sense to go after that particular niche, provided there is enough demand.
– Figure out which markets need to most help with Local SEO and online marketing in your local area. For instance, if you’re in a state with fluctuating weather like Alabama, you should be targeting HVAC contractors who are probably going to be in high demand.
– If all else fails you can go after the golden targeting rule – legal, home services and medical – these industries all are very good prospects for Local SEO services; you should just pick one of them.
Brand Yourself & Establish Credibility
For a business owner to trust your words and for people to refer your work or seek your expertise they need to know
you. For that to happen, you’ll need to do some amount of groundwork that helps establish your expertise on a given subject/industry. After all, as a marketing professional, you should practice what you preach and market yourself.
You will need to create your presence both on and offline.
#1 – Establish your own website and social media following
Make sure you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus; be regular with posting updates on these sites as well as responding back to interactions. You can use software like Buffer and HootSuite to save time managing your social media accounts.
#2 – Frequent industry blogs and forums
Provide regular easy to understand content updates in your industry forums, blogs that these business owners frequent. Take genuine interest and involve yourself in local chamber of commerce, business gatherings, social events. It will help develop trust and bonding before you go ahead and try to sell your services to the businesses.
For example, if you’re focused on contractors, you might want to frequent forums like ContractorTalk; there are plenty of online forums focused on specific industries that you can participate in and engage with potential customers. Just do a google search for forums relevant to the industry you’re attacking and you’re bound to find a few.
#3 – Work towards becoming a “thought leader”
The holy grail of Local SEO marketing is becoming a “thought leader” or someone who creates content that is widely shared. This can result in a sudden surge in customer inflow and can gradually get you to the point where you’re getting a few customers a week.
a. Create useful content on your blog on a weekly basis; this needs to be something useful for a local business (your potential customer) to get more from their online marketing or business.
b. Start a newsletter and curate this list to include businesses who want to hear from you.
c. Write on other blogs to leverage on their existing readership. This can be a good start when you don’t have a brand and would much rather have your content reach a larger audience.
It is extremely difficult for small firms to survive the local SEO game alone. You will need people to build, develop and execute your plans. You will need designers, web developers, content writers, assistance in responding to phone calls & emails to sustain your business and grow.
Find likeminded people that you can work with. People who have the specific skillsets that complement your own and your needs will help you support and sustain growth in the long run. It will also give you the opportunity to specialize and work on things that you do best rather than trying to be a generalist.
While partnering, it is also important that you “spread the riches” – don’t try to be anything and everything, focus on your core expertise (i.e online marketing) and share other work (content, design etc.) with others. What you’ll need to do is create a “mastermind group” – eventually, as group members success, will also start sharing with you and you’ll all grow together.
The Solutions Pitch
Let’s be honest – we are all skeptical of the dreaded sales pitch. The over the top promises, the hyperbole, the lure of the Promised Land that failed to be delivered.
Rather than selling them a cookie cutter rehearsed sales pitch, provide a solution to their problem.
#1 – Do your homework about the business before you go in for the meet or getting ready to send out a proposal.
Do they have a website? If yes, is it responsive? Are their title tags optimized? How big is the company? How long have they been in business?
You should be able to find all of this information fairly easily just by looking at a business’ website. To make things easier, analyze the important steps in the Local SEO Checklist to see if the business is doing everything right.
#2 – Take a look at how their business is doing online; what are their competitors doing?
Nothing closes a sale as fast as telling a business owner what their competitors are doing and how that’s helping them outrank. It drives the point across with evidence and helps you sell better. You can use a whole host of tools to check on competitor data including Synup, Ahrefs, Spyfu and SEMRush
#3 – Ask the business owner the most important questions you need to without wasting their time
Before you take the time and effort to prepare a proposal for a business, make sure you spend a few minutes with them on the phone asking the right questions. Ensure that your questions are short, concise, easy to understand and don’t take a long time to answer. The last thing you want to do is waste the business owners time on something you could have already gotten the answer for looking at their website.
Some questions I like asking when I’m doing pre-sales are:
– Are they doing any online marketing right now? Have they used consultants in the past?
– What kind of results have they seen with online so far?
– What kind of budget do they have for online marketing?
You should structure your questions based on what you think is important to ask.
#4 – Create an uncomplicated, easy to follow proposal
Break everything down to steps that the business can implement with your expertise that can help improve their performance. Show the business owner in steps what you’ll be doing, how long it’ll take and how it’ll impact their performance.
This will help them understand how you’re going to go about doing things and will also allay any unrealistic expectations they may have of you.
Be straightforward and promise what your can deliver. Believe me, it will take your business relationship to a new level when businesses know that you are not bullshitting them.
The business owner will actually appreciate the fact that someone is being honest with them unlike 1000 other cold callers who all promise them the first spot in Google overnight.
Closing sales is one thing, but generating leads is another. Lead gen is mostly a numbers game where you’ll need to generate as many (high quality) leads as possible that you can process.
The general mantra with this activity is experiment, track and expand the strategy that’s working out well for you.
Typical sources for leads include:
#1 – Cold Calls
The most oft used and abused lead-gen strategy there is. Works for some, doesn’t work for many. The secret to this strategy is volume, a proper script and quick hand-off to a real consultant. Stay away from this strategy if you’re afraid of rejection.
#2 – Direct Mail Campaign
Contrary to popular belief and opinion, this still works. While sending out direct mail, it makes sense to personalize it a little bit. Go one step further and tell them something they don’t already know.
– Advertisements on Online Directories/Newspaper sites
– Optimize your own website and local online presence
– SMB forums
– Radio ads
– TV Ads
– Newspaper Ads
Each of them have their pros and cons. You will need to try them you to find out what suits your need the best.
Listen to your customers
Every business has their strengths and unique set of problems. Do not go to meet a prospect thinking you know exactly what their problems are. You’ll end up alienating the client by trying to find problems to suit that services you can sell to them rather than finding a solution to the problems they are facing.
Listen to them closely, ask probing questions for more information and take a genuine interest in their affairs before you start talking money. They will appreciate it if you tell them that you may not be a good fit for the kind of services they are looking for. Its good to say NO upfront rather than delaying the inevitable.
Don’t Talk Jargon
We all understand that SEO is a complex process that takes months if not years to understand. Do not expect your customers to understand and be familiar with the terminologies that is prevalent in the industry.
Do not use jargons like robots.txt, xml , disavow, penguin, panda, pigeon, goat, unicorn etc to over complicate stuff. Most business owners will not understand the terms.
All they understand is “leads” and “revenue”. Educating the client on what we do is part of the job description, however, we need to know where to draw the line as we are not trying to train them to become Local SEO specialists.
Diversify Revenue Sources
Cashflow is the lifeblood of every small business. Keep tracking that at all times and make sure that one client alone doesn’t make up more than 15-20% of your revenue source.
a. One big client = bad news
The biggest mistake you can make running your consulting business is to have more than 50% of your revenue coming from one client. A lot of us have been guilty of doing this and have learn’t our lesson the heard. Always keep looking for ways in which you can diversify your revenues to come from multiple clients.
Afterall, you shouldn’t be “hostage” to a single-client and should have the freedom and liberty to drop a client if need be.
b. Always be collecting upfront
There is nothing wrong in collecting money upfront. You are providing top quality services and need to be paid well in advance. If you feel guilty collecting money from a customer, or have a customer who doesn’t trust you paying in advance, you should just fire them.
Never make the mistake of giving a customer a line of credit, whenever a client asks you this, ask them if they would work without getting payment from their own customers.
Where to engage and find expertise
Even the experts need help at times in this ever changing world of Local SEO. With the number of animals & birds (a-la penguin, panda, pigeon etc.,) the search engines are throwing into the mix every few months one needs to take a step back and learn about the latest and greatest in the industry.