Posted by DerekCosgrove
You can be the best SEO in the world, but if you can’t sell your services, it doesn’t matter.
The SEO agency I work for has grown from one to 10 employees in the past 12 months, and we could double our staff size within the next 12 months.
In the two years I’ve been in digital marketing, I’ve worked for a company that has been experiencing triple digit growth, but I’ve also worked for an agency whose stock dropped from $17 to $2.70 in the span of a year.
Since joining seoplus+ four months ago, I’ve signed up 15 clients. In comparison, the average experienced rep at my last company signed an average of 1.2 deals per month.
Based on my experience working with SEO agencies, I’d like to share four sales secrets I’ve learned that help ensure growth:
Secret #1: Keep your pipeline full
If you’re a sales manager, replace “What are you going to close this month?” with “What is your plan to keep your pipeline full?”
Let’s assume you agree with this and decide to focus constantly on building and keeping a pipeline full of opportunities.
I follow the 10/20 rule: At all times, my goal is to be working 10 opportunities and 20 leads.
If you’ve worked in sales for more than a week, you know that everyone defines leads and opportunities differently. I consider an opportunity someone I have presented with a proposal. I consider a lead someone I have talked to or who has contacted me, and believe they will turn into an opportunity.
If you always have a full pipeline, everything else falls into place. If you focus on just one thing, it should be to build a pipeline and keep it full.
Secret #2: Build your content strategy around sales
Technically this is marketing, but as a digital marketing sales person, you are a marketer.
Content doesn’t have to be a monthly blog about SEO tips or social media; it can and should be an event, a webinar, a video, a checklist, or a solution to your prospect’s biggest pain point. Your content should be something that you can share with a suspect (someone who isn’t yet in the pipeline) to turn them into a prospect or, better yet, an opportunity.
For example, during the lead up to Mobilegeddon, our SEO Expert Brock Murray and I recorded a live webinar about preparing for Mobilegeddon. We invited a ton of prospects, clients, suspects, and cold leads to participate.
Not only did this help us create new prospects, but it warmed up two ice cold leads we had not talked to in more than six months. They responded to the invitation and have become clients. Actually, the leads didn’t even attend the webinar, but we positioned ourselves as experts and got in front of them without calling to follow-up like everyone else.
Next time you create content, ask this: What information can we proactively offer our ideal prospects that will establish us as experts and help solve their problems? Then take that content and share it by email, phone, or social media with your target audience.
Put a call to action in every piece of your content. It could be an offer for free tips, an invitation to a webinar, or website analysis. Always offer something irresistible to help move people down your sales funnel.
Here is a current example of sales-focused content: Lead Generation Website Case Study.
Secret #3: Call prospects at the perfect time
Become obsessed with trigger events. When I’m prospecting, I always start with trigger events, which are prompts that lead your prospects to begin considering their marketing needs.
Some examples of what I focus on include a new decision maker entering a marketing role, a seasonal change impacting their business, a competitor doing something to impact them (e.g., opening a new location), the Yellow Pages renewal coming up, and a new website.
According to sales guru Craig Elias, 60-90% of sales go to the rep who contacts the decision maker during their window of dissatisfaction. If you’re calling decision makers outside of this window, you could be missing out on 90% of opportunities.
Make a list of events that lead your prospects to being in the window of dissatisfaction and then get in front of them at just the right time.
Secret #4: Referrals don’t just happen
Build a referral machine. I don’t know anyone in this business who is successful without referrals. In most cases, they come in slowly through relationships that just happen without much intention. But build a referral machine into your sales process, like we did, and referrals become a game changer.
Asking existing clients for referrals is great, but doesn’t scale.
The key is to regularly seek out and set goals about referral partners, not simply sales goals. Referral partners are like prospects: You need to build the relationship and prove yourself first. Eventually, leads will start to flow in.
My personal goal is to have 20 active referral partners that bring me one deal per year or more.
Some examples of my active referral partners are a Groupon sales executive, a lawyer who is well-connected, a traditional marketing agency, and a radio sales rep.
If you focus on implement the four sales secrets I just shared with you, I’m confident you will be successful in selling digital marketing solutions.
So stop cold calling and hard selling, and get out there and build a pipeline.
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!