How To Convert SEO Leads Into High-Paying Clients

One common problem that many SEO agencies and consultants run into is converting leads into clients. We have covered plenty of training on how to acquire leads.

Whether that’s running media buying campaigns, Facebook ads, or lumpy mail. There is an infinite number of ways to generate leads for your business.

But leads aren’t enough.

You need clients, and that’s where most SEO’s go wrong.

They are good at ranking. Good at marketing. But they suck at selling.

I’m not a sales expert myself. I am constantly practicing to improve my skills.

But I have figured out how to close high-end clients without physically meeting them, and repeated it on several occasions.

If you’re anything like me when I started, you have problems convincing prospects you’re an expert. You may have awkward silences on the phone. The client has trust issues and wants testimonials and examples. And you can’t manage to close.

In this training I’d like to walk you through my personal process for selling and closing leads, which completely changed my business.

When speaking to friends that also run very successful businesses, we noticed that we were using a very similar process after testing and refining it individually. Which shows how effective this is.

So let’s go through it…

1. Respond to the lead

If they have reached out to you, this is the easiest stage.

If you are cold emailing though, it can be a bit more difficult. You need to judge how good of a lead they’ll be.

Here is an example of a bad response from a cold email:

cost

This may be confusing because it looks like they’re showing buyer intent, which in a way they are, but this lead is bad because they are most likely going to be very price oriented.

No point eliminating a potential prospect here though. Just be careful with how you respond. I’d focus more on the value, and seeing it as an investment, than I would on the “cost”. So I replied to that prospect with this:

“Hi Leigh,

It doesn’t cost anything because if you have your website & marketing setup right, it’ll bring in more customers and make you more money than you invest.

If you want to go through what you can do and the value it can offer your business, let me know and we can have a quick call some time next week.

Cheers,
Daryl”

In the above example, he responded to my email and we moved onto the next stage…

2. Qualify the lead

In previous training we referred to this as a consultation call. It’s the same thing, the idea is to qualify the client and see if you’ll be a good fit to work together.

You should do this on the phone, there is absolutely no need to ever meet someone for this, but an email isn’t sufficient.

Your intention on this call is to see if they are a good fit for your services, find out their pain points, and close them on having a proposal made.

Newer sales people, including myself, have a bad habit of missing out this stage. The problem is though, without qualifying them, you have no idea what they want – so you can’t sell it to them.

Remember people saying, “Do NOT sell SEO”, and instead focus on results like more clients, more time doing their passions, expanding their team, etc. Well, this is where you find out what they truly want.

spin-selling

I’ve been doing this for a while now, but one great book I was reading recently, SPIN Selling, covers choosing the questions in an interesting way, the author (Neil Rackham) breaks questions down into 4 categories…

Situation questions

A situation question is intended to get facts about the prospect and their business. These are important because you will need facts for creating your proposal, but try to use as few of these as possible.

Here are a few example fact-based questions you may want to ask:

  • How long have you been looking to work with an SEO agency?
  • Just an estimate, how much is an average client worth to you during their customer lifetime?
  • Which areas do you cover?

Problem questions

These are questions designed to dig into a problem or difficulty your prospect has.

The first example question we used “How long have you been looking to work with an SEO agency?”, can potentially be a problem question, for example if they responded by saying…

“About 2 months now, we were working with an SEO agency before but it didn’t work out, so we’ve been searching for a new one”

Now your problem question is simple…

“Why do you think that was the case?”

Here are a few more examples of problem questions you can ask:

  • What made you decide to reach out to us? (May need to dig deeper to get into the problems)
  • What’s preventing you from expanding into X area? What’s preventing you from hiring someone for Y position? What’s preventing you from reaching your revenue goal of Z?
  • Why do you feel you aren’t receiving enough enquiries from your website now?

Implication questions

Once you understand the problems, you can use implication questions to cover the implications of these problems.

Here are couple examples you could ask:

  • Would you say being on the third page and having a poorly setup website is losing you many customers to your competitors?
  • What are you giving up by putting time into X, when you could hire someone to do that?

Notice how we are using the pain to dig further and find out what is happening as a result of that pain.

Here is another example: we know they have a pain of not being able to expand into a new area, next we want to find out what are the implications of that, maybe they won’t be able to grow the revenue enough to sell it and retire.

Need-payoff questions

These questions focus on the needs of your prospect. We want to know what they feel they need, then along with their pains, we can sell it to them.

Here are some example questions you could ask:

  • If we were talking here 12 months from now, what would you like to have achieved from working together?
  • Just by being top, do you think that will convince your prospects you’re the better company to deal with?
  • Could a more high-end looking website attract more higher paying clients for you, rather than price oriented ones?
  • What would 15 new qualified leads per week do for your business?

 3. Close on the proposal

“Well John, based on everything you’ve said, this sounds like the perfect fit for you.

What we’ll do next is put together a proposal for you to explain exactly what you can do to achieve your objectives, then we can walkthrough it on a call next week.

Which day works best for you?”

This is the easiest close you’ll get to do. Nobody has ever turned me down at this stage. If people are interested enough to get on the phone and go through the qualification stage, they’re at least curious enough to see what you propose.

With that said, I have turned people down at this stage. If we go through the qualification call and I decide they aren’t a perfect fit to work with us, I simply let them know this is the case, and we end it there without any time wasting.

4. Follow up

Don’t wait until the proposal day to speak to them again. Immediately after that consultation/qualification call, send them a quick email to reconfirm the details and thank them for their time.

The more contact they have with you the better. You don’t want no shows.

5. Deliver the proposal live

It’s a big mistake to send your proposal over an email then sit, wait, and hope they get back to you. That will definitely work, but it drastically reduces your chances.

To get the most out of your proposal, you need to walk them through it.

jmLogo_107x79

For me, I use a mixture of join.me (it’s free), and a phone call. You could also use GoToMeeting, though I haven’t used it for this before.

Your proposal needs to walk them through what you’ll be doing for them. Don’t be vague, or give them a big list like a pricing table. Actually have a step-by-step walkthrough of what your service and strategy involves.

I recommend using Keynote or Powerpoint for this.

There is no need to worry about your strategies being grey hat. A good prospect will have no idea what is Google approved or not. If they do, it’s probably a sign they’ll be a pain to work with.

I even explain the whole process of buying expired domains that have trust and authority, and using them to build links to the clients website.

Make sure to relate it to them, and explain how it will apply to them only. Generic training and advice will only bore them. Keep them engaged throughout the presentation, ask them if they understand something, if they’ve heard of it before, etc. You need them to be paying attention.

It takes me about 40-50 minutes to deliver a proposal.

This part is the selling. You’re building value with the prospect, establishing credibility and expertise, and gaining their trust as a result of both of these.

Trust me, after the proposal, outside of the main ideas, your prospects will forget most of what you actually do. And that’s fine, the reason we are doing it is to sell, we don’t want them to do it themselves.

Once they’re sold on you, your company, and the service, you can move on and…

6. Close the deal

You need to ask them for the sale. People often wussy out at this stage. They qualify them, sell to them, but can’t manage to ask for the sale.

Asking for the sale can be as simple as saying, “Have you seen enough information to make a decision?”.

Remember one thing though…

Most people are not going to say yes to the first attempt at closing them.

Take the above question as an example, you may find someone will say something like…

“Yes, that was great thanks, I just need to think about it now”

At which point, it’s easy to panic and say:

“Okay great, well I’ll let you think about it…”

Or you can continue the conversation and try to close again later…

“Ok, that’s fair enough. But do you like the idea we’ve covered?”

And remember to bring up the notes from the qualification call, for example:

“John, do you believe me that this strategy is going to get you the 15 additional leads per week you’re looking for?”

At this point it’s important to focus on the things brought up during the qualification call. You know their pain points, the implications of those pain points, and what they are looking to achieve – don’t sell them SEO, sell them the solutions to these things.

Walking them through the strategy in the proposal is to make you stand out from your competitors, and position you as an expert that knows what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how well they understand it, they just need to have a rough idea of what you do. But that isn’t how you close them, that’s one of the big differences between selling and closing.

If you’re anything like me, the closing part is going to make you feel uncomfortable.

But remember this…

If you don’t manage to close this client, they’re probably going to buy from some awful agency that uses blog comments, article directories, and 80% exact match anchor text to rank – just because they know how to close. You’re likely one of the best SEO’s they’ll find (since you’re a reader here!), so you’re doing them a disservice by not closing them.

7. Get paid or Follow up

Once you close them, it’s a matter of receiving the money, and beginning your ranking process. If you haven’t fully invested into learning SEO yet, now is a good time to start studying. Check out our PBN guide, that will get you the basics done, enough to rank most clients.

Alternatively, if you don’t close them on the phone, remember to follow up.

Send them case studies and content afterwards. You want to make sure they are thinking about you. First thing, as before, send a follow up email immediately after the call and recap things.

.

There you go, 7 steps to converting your leads into SEO clients.

There are a lot of skills that will be useful for running a successful SEO agency.

The obvious one is knowing how to rank, but truthfully, that’s the least important thing to focus on until you have clients.

Another skill is the ability to generate leads. But generating leads is useless if you can’t close. And being able to close drastically reduces the amount of leads you need.

My advice is to focus on becoming great at selling and closing.

This is why I often say you don’t need to be good at SEO, or have any experience, to build an agency. I don’t mean this in an unethical way, you should always strive to deliver the absolute best results for your clients. If anything, it’ll make your business much more lucrative. But you don’t need to be an actual SEO expert until you have the client.

First, learn how to get clients. Otherwise knowing how to rank is useless to you.

That brings me to my final point, I’ve been thinking recently of doing the first ever Lion Zeal webinar on how to sell SEO. I’d like to show a small group of committed action takers, exactly how I’m using these 7 steps in my business. Including the exact questions, proposal template, and closes that I’m using to get clients.

If you’re interested, I’ll post some details shortly in the Lion Zeal Mastermind group.

Daryl

About Daryl Rosser

Daryl runs a six figure SEO business primarily focusing on local clients. He's extremely analytical, and his favourite ranking strategy is using PBN's.

16 Responses to “How To Convert SEO Leads Into High-Paying Clients”

  • Gary  April 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Great write up Daryl!

    • Daryl Rosser  April 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks Gary, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Zacc  April 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Great writeup as always, I think that one of the biggest missed points in any sales funnel is the follow up. Consistent follow up constitutes a good portion of our business that we would have lost had we not continued to follow up on a regular basis.

    • Daryl Rosser  April 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Cheers Zacc. That’s definitely true, most people give up and don’t bother with follow up. I’ve been guilty of it a lot myself, trying to come across as not needing them as a client, so never bothered to follow up. I think the better way to approach it is, think of your services as a cure, you don’t need the client, but they NEED you. You should do everything in your power to help these people get the cure they need.

  • Eric  April 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Great information as usual. I think that anyone that is doing work online whether a service or products could us these sales tactics.
    They would work over the phone, in emails, with copy. I appreciate the write up and I’ll have to check out that book!

    • Daryl Rosser  April 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Eric. For sure, selling is basically the same in any medium.

  • Jamie  April 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    i like that Daryl – i take it thats from SPIN SELLING?

    – S.ITUATION questions
    – P.ROBLEM questions
    – I.MPLICATION questions
    – N.EED PAY-OFF questions

    ive been in sales a long long time and as much as i use a consultative selling approach (which is what youre describing), i havent got it mapped out in the way you have here and yours is a handly little way of reminding yourself to follow your line of questioning in a sequential manner. THANKS for the recommendation of that book.

    ALSO, what i like about your article is that youre using examples directly related to pitching SEO services and coming up with real world q&a’s.

    ACTUALLY, i like the ‘join.me’ tip as well – am i right in saying youre using the free screen sharing facility and then speaking to your client over your own phone rather than paying the monthly charge with join.me?

    • Daryl Rosser  April 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      Exactly. I was also doing the consulting model for a long time before reading it, but the specific structuring of the types of questions to ask is a great way of doing it.

      Yeah, I use a phone call because I don’t want the potential technical issues of them needing to use a microphone on their computer. And it’s easier to just call them, rather than have them call into a conference call number.

      Glad you got value from the post 🙂

  • Azzam  April 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Excellent stuff.

    So Daryl, when you are going to do a course on setting up local SEO business for my list of 20,000?

    Itching to be an affiliate so I do not have to set up the course.

    • Daryl Rosser  April 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Azzam.

      No courses in the plan yet, but may be able to collaborate in some way. Will send you a message on FB and we can chat 🙂

  • Ivan  April 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve probably made only 20 phone calls my entire life (grew up in social isolation). Not exaggerating – really. This is totally irrational, but I absolutely abhorrrr the phone.

    But this only means I should practice, practice, and practice even more. A question for you Daryl:

    Do you know of a place where I can practice speaking on the phone? Maybe not just for sales purposes but for speaking in general? Like chatting on the phone with random (but normal[!]) people? I know there’s omegle and ChatRoulette but almost everyone there are pervs with malicious intents… Hopefully something like this exists somewhere.

    As for sales tactics & closing, take a look at this beast:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nI-ikG3PbE
    You’ll catch some smooth objections to close transitions in there.

    And this guy for getting rid of fear over the phone.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkjNtyQBQ3Y

    Haven’t seen you in the forums so I thought you disappeared. Anyhow, thanks Daryl.

    • Daryl Rosser  April 30, 2015 at 5:52 am

      Before the last year or so, I was basically the same Ivan. First thing you need to do though, is change your stance. A phone is just a tool, and a very powerful one for growing your business.

      You don’t need a video to tell you how to overcome a fear of calling. A video will only motivate you, or give you strategies of what to say on the phone. Both will help, but you’ll still have the initial fear to overcome.

      My advice, if you want to get good at this, based on your past experience. Write a basic script out, and do 20 cold calls in a day. That will double the amount of calls you’ve done before 🙂 And it’ll only take a day.

      Cold calling is a scary way to start, but just go all in man. It’s irrelevant the result of this. Whether you book any appointments (which should be your focus), or not, it gives you great practice at speaking with someone on the phone. Doing a cold call is completely different to a warm call, if they’re expecting your call, it is significantly easier. That’s why it’s even better to start with cold calls, you’ll learn more, faster.

      You want experience, so when that first prospect comes in requesting a call, you can confidently get on the phone and speak with them like an expert.

  • Nate  May 2, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Daryl!

    Awesome stuff. I read SPIN Selling earlier this year and it help me get a verbal agreement for my first client for SEO, Adwords and Facebook.

    I’d love to sit in on that webinar, too.

    • Daryl Rosser  May 2, 2015 at 6:14 am

      Thanks Nate!

      Congrats man, that’s really cool.

      Still running through some ideas for the webinar, will post details in the group shortly.

  • Joe Stewart  May 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    It’s a great process. Well written, easy to duplicate, makes qualifying the customer easy and focuses on their pain points and how you can resolve them.

    The only thing that I’d consider adding is scarcity and a bit more urgency. I’d want them to know that I’d like to work with them, but that I intend to work with someone in the area, so I wouldn’t want to put it off. It wouldn’t be right to try to rank two companies for the same keywords, right?

    If they said they wanted to think about it, I’d probably say something along the lines of “I can appreciate that. Is there something specific that you wanted to think about. Did I not explain something clearly?”

    When someone says they have to think about it there’s almost always an objection or pain point that hasn’t been resolved yet or something’s bothering them and they need their mind put at ease.

    If I ask a few questions and can’t get the answer out of them I’d then ask “if you’re honestly comfortable with everything we discussed, is there anything in the whole wide world that would keep you from getting started today?

    If they still want to think about it I’d back off. However, if I were able to get an honest objection from them I’d try to resolve it on the spot. It could be a money problem and they’d need to be closed again on that issue. They could be concerned with the length of the contract. Instead of a 12 month I might consider dropping it to a 6 month. After all, if he’s making money at that point he’s not gonna want to stop, right?

    If I couldn’t get a commitment, at that point I’d gracefully back away and give him some space for a couple days. I’d also immediately start contacting other businesses, but I wouldn’t mention who I’d been talking to.

    That would actually give me some leverage if I told someone else that I’d been working with someone but they don’t appear ready to make a decision, but they could at any moment. I’d say something like, “as a business owner, I know from experience not to put all of my eggs into one basket. I’m sure you can relate to that, right (first name)?”

    Anyhow, as I said, I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve been in sales for decades. If the sale isn’t closed at the time of the presentation when they’re very warm and receptive, I’d think that the odds would get lower as they begin to forget important little things that were said, how it was going to help them, etc.

    Just my take. I’d love to hear different viewpoints.

    Joe

    • Daryl Rosser  May 17, 2015 at 6:41 am

      Cheers Joe.

      Scarcity is definitely an element to include in your sales process. I do it in a similar way you mentioned, letting them know that we can only take on one company in their area. But I also tell them that we don’t take on many clients every month in general because we like to give each ones campaigns a lot of personal attention. Scarcity is great for helping them to make a decision, most people are taught from a young age to “think about it” and “sleep on it”.

      I agree, as soon as the call is over, your chances of closing are dramatically lower. The best you could have done at that point is pre-scheduled a time to talk again, and have a solid follow up process.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!