How to Pitch SEO: Sales Tips for Appeasing Marketing Directors #BrightsonSEO |

How to Pitch SEO: Sales Tips for Appeasing Marketing Directors #BrightsonSEO

By / April 13, 2012

Today I’ve presented a few tips and tricks to gain the favour of marketing directors at #BrightonSEO.  Whether you are in-house or agency side, selling the value of SEO lacks the glamour of TV advertising, the accountability of PPC, and the buzz-factor of social media.  Here are a few tips and tricks to better promote SEO to marketing directors.


  • The secretary/receptionist is your best friend.  These are the gate keepers to your budget, and they’re invaluable.  Chat them up, find out what they like to do at the weekends, and ask about their families; when you have this type of rapport going it’s much easier to ask “has Mike had a chance to review my budget proposal with the MD?” or “Does Mike have any more meetings with other agencies this week?”
  • Say My Name.  The sweetest word to anyone, in any language, is their own name.  Use it often to maintain interest as you explain your justifications for increase in budget or while selling your SEO service.
  • Sharing is Caring.  The best way to get in contact with a new business lead or gain the favour of your in-house marketing director is to offer them something.  For instance, if I have an extra ticket to a marketing event or have acquired a niche report on a competitor of interest, I’ll be sure to share it with my new relevant new business leads.
  • Smile.  I know, an American telling Brits to smile isn’t convincing – but it works 🙂 Especially when you pick up the phone, people can tell whether your smiling in your voice.  If Marketing Director Mike has a choice of having a 15 minute meeting with Depressed Deborah or Smiling Sam – Mike will pick Smiling Sam.
  • Investigate.  You want budget, but what does your Marketing Director of choice hope for?  Is he stressed over the lack of traffic to a new site just launched?  Is he pondering how to spend the remaining budget from a TV campaign which was cancelled at short notice?  Ask questions.
  • ABC’s.  Repeat after me “Have I explained that clearly?”.  Marketing Directors are looking at the bigger picture, and as a general rule don’t understand terms like “build directory links” and “institute canonical tags”, nor will most admit they don’t understand.  So keep your explanations in terms a 10 year old would understand.
  • Open Questions.  An open question is any questions which initiates discussion and cannot be answered with a Yes or No.  Good open questions usually start with the words how, what, and why.  For instance, “How did you think last year’s SEO budget performed?” will reveal more detailed insight than “Were you happy with last year’s SEO spend?”
  • Positive words.  Setting a negative tone, with negative words and thoughts will automatically put dark evil clouds in your marketing directors mind.  Keep things positive, if you’re pitching for new business don’t speak negatively of other agencies, if you’re in house, don’t diss the way Bob the PPC Manager mismanaged his money and it would have been better spent on link building.
  • Shush!  As the investigator, it’s up to you to nod your head, take notes, and listen.  This is not a 50/50 conversation, it’s 90/10.  The more you listen, the more your are graduating into the role of trusted advisor instead of annoying employee harassing for budget or money hungry agency.
  • Alternative avenues for raising funds.  We can all talk about social search and personalised search till the cows come home, so why not look to dip your foot into the resources available in social media?  Is there an in-house team which could help build links through blogger relationships?  For agencies, can you exemplify why your approach works so well with social, and additional budget should be pulled in to work on a united approach?
  • What’s the impact?  Marketing Directors must legitimise everything they’ve spent, and so it’s these terms that you must present your solution to them in.  There are three main ways to do this – 1) Revenue 2) Rankings and 3) Traffic.
  • Revenue.  Evaluate the organic exposure you’re predicting you’ll receive in terms of revenue.  If you get position three for the term “dog insurance”, what does that look like for your marketing director?
  • Measure it as PPC.  If you’ve got a plan to boost rankings for a hundred of keywords, value that traffic as it would be worth in PPC exposure.   What sort of media budget would be required to the projected levels you expect?
  • Rank.  Appease their vanity!  How often do MDs and Marketing Directors search for themselves online?  A lot.  Plain how your plan will launch them to the top of the rankings for the terms that they hold dear to themselves.  Even if this isn’t your personal priority, if it’s their priority, work it into the plan as a key point.
  • Traffic.  Has a lot of money just been invested in a new website that’s invisible in SERPs?  Have conversions rates on site been poor due to the wrong sort of traffic arriving?  Explain how your strategy will deliver the right sort of traffic, and at what sort of increased levels?
  • Raise your hand with the answer to solve your Directors problems.  You’ve listened, you’ve asked open questions, you’ve learned what your Directors priorities are, you’ve understood what has gone wrong in the past and have put measures into place to ensure those bad things will never happen again.  So provide your solution!  This should be in the last 10% of your investigation, where you as the trusted advisor know what to do.
  • Take a Risk Yourself.  Guarantees are great, but holding them in place with tangible results puts a lot more girth in what you’re predicting will happen.  For agencies, this may mean discounts or refunds if certain projections aren’t met.  In house, this may mean striking deals around future performance – if certain results are met, more budget from lower performing avenues will be set aside for you in Q3.

Do you fly the SEO flag in house or as part of the new business function at an agency?  What tips and tricks have you come across to gain additional budget or sign a contract?

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